Facsimile Magazine, published by Haoyan of America. Volume Two, Number Five, 2008. ISSN 1937-2116.
Table of Contents
The bicycle has had a considerable effect on human society, in both the cultural and industrial realms.
Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles helped reduce crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses, with all the knock-on effects this brought to society. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking, and three to four times as fast.
Recently, several European cities have implemented successful schemes, known as community bicycle programs or bike-sharing schemes. These initiatives are designed to complement a city's public transport system and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution. Users can take a bicycle at a parking station, use it for a limited amount of time, and then return it to the same, or a different, station. Examples of such schemes are Bicing in Barcelona, Vélo'v in Lyon and Vélib' in Paris.
In cities where the bicycle is not an integral part of the planned transportation system, commuters often use bicycles as elements of a mixed-mode commute, where the bike is used to travel to and from train stations or other forms of rapid transit. Folding bicycles are useful in these scenarios, as they are less cumbersome when carried aboard.
Until recently, bicycles have been a staple of everyday life in the People's Republic of China. They are the most frequently used method of transport for commuting to work, school, shopping, and life in general. As a result bicycles there are almost always equipped with baskets and back seats.
The diamond-frame safety bicycle gave women unprecedented mobility, contributing to their emancipation in Western nations. As bicycles became safer and cheaper, more women had access to the personal freedom they embodied, and so the bicycle came to symbolize the New Woman of the late nineteenth century, especially in Britain and the United States.
The bicycle was recognized by nineteenth-century feminists and suffragists as a "freedom machine" for women. American Susan B. Anthony said in a New York World interview on February 2, 1896: "Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood." In 1895 Frances Willard, the tightly-laced president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, wrote a book called How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle, in which she praised the bicycle she learned to ride late in life, and which she named "Gladys", for its "gladdening effect" on her health and political optimism. Willard used a cycling metaphor to urge other suffragists to action, proclaiming, "I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum."
Male anger at the freedom symbolized by the New (bicycling) Woman was demonstrated when the male undergraduates of Cambridge University showed their opposition to the admission of women as full members of the university by hanging a woman bicyclist in effigy in the main town square. This was as late as 1897. The bicycle craze in the 1890s also led to a movement for so-called rational dress, which helped liberate women from corsets and ankle-length skirts and other restrictive garments, substituting the then-shocking bloomers.
Bicycle manufacturing proved to be a training ground for other industries and led to the development of advanced metalworking techniques, both for the frames themselves and for special components such as ball bearings, washers, and sprockets. These techniques later enabled skilled metalworkers and mechanics to develop the components used in early automobiles and aircraft. J. K. Starley's company became the Rover Cycle Company Ltd. in the late 1890s, and then simply the Rover Company when it started making cars. The Morris Motor Company (in Oxford) and Škoda also began in the bicycle business, as did the Wright Brothers. Alistair Craig whose company eventually emerged to become the engine manufacturers Ailsa Craig also started from manufacturing bicycles in Glasgow in March 1885.
In general, U.S. and European cycle manufacturers used to assemble cycles from their own frames and components made by other companies, although very large companies (such as Raleigh) used to make almost every part of a bicycle (including bottom brackets, axles, etc.) In recent years, those bicycle makers have greatly changed their methods of production. Now, almost none of them produce their own frames.
Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some sixty percent of the world's bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles. One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labour in China.
The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of the United Nations considers a bicycle to be a vehicle, and a person controlling a bicycle is considered a driver. The traffic codes of many countries reflect these definitions and demand that a bicycle satisfy certain legal requirements, sometimes even including licensing, before it can be used on public roads. In many jurisdictions it is an offence to use a bicycle that is not in roadworthy condition.
In most jurisdictions, bicycles must have functioning front and rear lights when ridden after dark. As some generator or dynamo-driven lamps only operate while moving, rear reflectors are frequently also mandatory. Since a moving bicycle makes little noise, some countries insist that bicycles have a warning bell for use when approaching pedestrians, equestrians and other bicyclists.
By Julia Tcharfas
By Haoyan of America
One of my more unusual rides to work with two close calls. Also happened to be the day (May 1, 2008) I decided to document my journey...
By Bike Snob NYC
Over the last few days I’ve received a couple of spirited and thought- provoking comments. There was this one from last Friday:
i love how you call out "lawyers, doctors, dentists" as if you are somehow above them because they may choose to ride a single speed or fixed gear bike and yet who are you to judge? some guy who sits behind his computer and rants the same shit everyday..."you're ruining my subculture, stop riding bianchi pistas!!!" if you're so offical why don't you stop bitching and spend less hours in front of computer and more on a bike. pathetic. btw, have some balls and post this.
And this one from yesterday:
When exactly did you become so bitter? It seems as though everything and everyone annoys you in some way, shape, or form. I'd really enjoy your blog if you were just the slightest bit more positive, but I suppose that's what the whole snob part calls for. Oh well, who else would every disgruntled messenger and hipster turn to when they need their pretentious/I'm better than everyone except for my tight group of friends fix. You're a fine writer, far better than myself, but can you for just one day not check craigslist looking to make fun of someone? Something tells me you would never say such things to someone's face, and that's something you might want to consider.
Are they wrong? Certainly. Missing the point? Absolutely. Twisted maniacs? Very possibly. Even so, I’m a firm believer in using criticism in order to better yourself, and as such each of these comments prompted periods of introspection and soul-searching that lasted literally minutes. So instead, rather than criticize others, today I’d like to take some time to analyze the very nature of cycling itself. I hope you’ll bear with me today as I ponder the bigger questions:
Cycling is symmetry. D’uh. It’s a concert of balance, a harmony of tension and a symphony of opposing forces. This symmetry is evident in every aspect of the endeavor.
Furthermore, like yoga, asceticism, or curling on mescaline, cycling is a means by which we discover our true inner selves. Each bicycle journey, no matter how short, is also a journey within. If it wasn’t for cycling, would Lance Armstrong have discovered his acting prowess? Would Phil Liggett have become a coffee mogul? Would Mario Cipollini have been described as “flamboyant” and “charismatic” instead of simply being arrested for being a perverted freak in a catsuit? I too have learned volumes about myself from riding. For example, by mountain biking I’ve learned from my tendency to ride around obstacles instead of over them and from my technique of stopping, dismounting, and visually inspecting drop-offs before riding off of them that I am both lazy and cowardly. I’ve also learned by being dropped from races and rides of all kinds that I don’t like it when things get difficult, and that no matter what you’re doing you can always quit. And that is a beautiful lesson. Knowing that life itself is optional is the key to getting through it.
In the past I’ve made a distinction between the “cyclist” and the “guy on a bike.” The former is a type of person, while the second is a coincidence or a circumstance. My definition of “cyclist” is two-fold:
1) A “cyclist” rides a bike even when he or she does not have to.
Someone who rides out of necessity is not necessarily a cyclist. For example, the drunk driver who must cycle to work because his license has been taken away is not a cyclist. Nor is the delivery person who does not ride, look at, or think about his bicycle after hours or on days off. However, if you opt to ride a bicycle even when it is inconvenient to do so or you could be doing something else, then you’re probably a cyclist.
2) A “cyclist” is someone who owns a floor pump.
Owning things doesn’t make you a cyclist. Having clipless pedals, or training wheels, or a closet full of cycling attire doesn’t do it. Even owning a bike doesn’t necessarily do it. Hey, if you borrow a bike every time you want to ride you may very well still be a cyclist. However, if you don’t have a floor pump you’re not a cyclist. Using a mini pump or even a frame pump for home use shows a disturbing lack of commitment to proper inflationary technique. And relying on a local bike shop (or worse yet a gas station) for your air is like eating out every single day for your entire life—at Denny's.
This is one of those deeply profound questions, like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” Yes, triathletes ride bikes, but they also swim and run and are generally weird. Well, in light of my definition of “cyclist” I think I have an answer. A triathlete is a cyclist provided he or she would still ride even if the cycling portion of triathlons was officially replaced with some other activity, such as rollerblading or curling while on mescaline. If in such a situation the triathlete says, “Hey, that sucks! Well forget triathlons, I’m going to keep riding,” then he or she is a cyclist. But if the triathlete immediately puts all his or her bike stuff on Craigslist and buys a big heavy rock, a broom, and some peyote, then he or she is just some freak in a half-shirt.
I suppose at this point you’re thinking I’m going to say that frame material is irrelevant, and that furthermore even the bike itself is secondary since anything that can carry you forth on a ride is more than sufficient. Unfortunately though that’s not the case.
The ideal frame material is a hybrid. The perfect frame would consist of a carbon downtube for lateral rigidity and vertical compliance, a titanium seat tube to cancel out road buzz, one steel seatstay and one aluminum seatstay (aluminum on the driveside), one titanium chainstay and one carbon fiber chainstay (carbon on the driveside), one iso-truss top tube with patented “Groin Gr8er” technology, and a bamboo fork to smooth the whole thing out. Riding a bike like this would be an explosive and orgasmic epiphany that would launch you straight to nirvana like a blissed-out circus freak being fired from a cannon.
Dizz Hicks, due entirely to his brilliant “Flirtin’ With Dizzaster” ad campaign. “I am Specialized?” I don’t think so.
By Frisbee Jackson
To the older couple swinging their hands held, walking down Broadway towards the park as the sun, snug in the sky, slowly came off its pedestal—
To the father playing catch with his young son in the brilliantly green front lawn,
To my neighbors, who I suspect are slightly tipsy, and are speaking several decibels higher than necessary on their deck about driving (quote: "there was a fucking garbage truck driving on the wrong side of the road"),
Thank you for this beautiful day.