Dutch Bikes in the New York Times
Posted on 16 April 2009
Seems like our blog is all about New York these days. Last week we reported on Batavus supplying two hundred bright orange bikes to the Big Apple, this week its a full page spread spread in the New York Times on Dutch Bikes. Looks like NYC is on fire for Dutch bikes...well, its about time. Chicago had it figured out around two years ago, and Toronto almost six years now. NYC loves its trends, this is one trend already here to stay.
It's a truly great article, and even includes a quote from NYC Batavus retailer George Bliss at Hub Station, who states:
“I use to think that car culture was the problem, but now I think it’s bike culture,” he said. By that he meant that the discourse about city biking is dominated by cycling zealots who don’t have the desire, or the skill, to attract people who don’t see themselves as cyclists, just as people who ride a bike to work.
Like George we've known this for some time. Bike shops are typically the weakest link in the chain when it comes to selling real urban solutions (Detroit automakers could be accused of the same!). Perhaps this is why established Dutch companies like Gazelle - who received quite a bit of copy in the NY Times article - are choosing retailers like Club Monaco instead of real bike stores. It makes sense, but it's not smart. It's a frustration we understand, but Curbside Cycle is living proof that an established bike store can be savvy to the urban bicycle market and offer stylish transportation options in an equally stylish environment. This goes for with-it retailers like ModSquad Cycles in NYC as well.
This year we have seen several bike companies enter the fray in North America. Some are excellent (Azor), some are faux copies made in China (Electra), some we have never heard of (Velorbis) and some companies don't seem to be around any more (Jorg & Olif). Dutch bikes may be all the rage, but a good Dutch bike is a product of integrity. Do some research. Buy an established brand and above all, buy it at a real bike store. Otherwise, beware.
Emblazoned with handsome men in suits on bikes, the article adds a whole new level of legitimacy to that object of culture that the Dutch actually find mundane - the city bicycle. But what is mundane to the Dutch is revolutionary to the North American. Indeed, the article states,"the Great Downturn may have its first real status symbol", and we couldn't agree more. After all, a man in a suit on a bike may be the sexiest thing on earth. A man in an Italian sports car stuck in gridlock is one more thing you can smile at as the world breezes by. Now, if we can just get Obama on that Batavus bike (see next post).