"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Travel
May 19, 2007

Monocle on Bicycles

Monocle has quickly joined my list of “must read” magazines (along with The Atlantic, New York, Vanity Fair and Sound on Sound). I’ve been describing it as “an intelligent version of Wallpaper*,” which is more than a little ironic since Monocle is actually the product of Wallpaper* founder Tyler Br?ªl?© (see here, here and here). […]

Monocle has quickly joined my list of “must read” magazines (along with The Atlantic, New York, Vanity Fair and Sound on Sound). I’ve been describing it as “an intelligent version of Wallpaper*,” which is more than a little ironic since Monocle is actually the product of Wallpaper* founder Tyler Br?ªl?© (see here, here and here). Despite having regained (to some extent) it’s focus as a design-oriented journal, Wallpaper* has suffered from intermittent quality over the last 5-6 years. So, it is will be interesting to see how the tighter and more politically-minded Monocle fares.

The last edition had a focus on Bicyles, which grabbed my imagination. I was an avid cyclist in my youth and young adulthood and thoroughly enjoyed cycling during our ’05 summer holidays. Never owning a car again would be fine by me, but I’d love to pick up a bike again. However, bicycles are, with good reason, a rarity in Hong Kong (or at least the Hong Kong I live in).

Reflecting on it, the bike versus car question is so loaded for me, it’s almost a non-starter. In terms of fitness, convenience, aesthetics and in some cases even speed, it’s bikes all the way, especially for urban travel. Factor in the environmental impact and it is a knock-down victory for the humble two-wheeler. The downside is, of-course, all about scale and network. No bike lanes and agressive (or selfish) car-drivers ruin the whole equation. Monocle featured the dutch city of Groningen as an example of a town planned on a human, bicycle-able scale. My quick mental audit revealed that every city on list of “favourite places to live in the world,” and almost every location on my “places I wish I owned a hoiday house” is easy on the pedal. That’s a lot of food for thought.

Monocle also highlighted five bike makers whose products are geared (pun intended) to the urban rider; Skeppshult, Alta, Arrow (Japan), Cykelmageren and Jopo. Not a mountain bike or flourescent finish in sight all the bikes were stylish and elegant (for comments on the piece see here and here). If that wasn’t enough, you can even buy your own Monocle branded bike, built by Skeppshult (for ¬£600).

[tags] Bicycle, Biking, Urban [/tags]

Responses
Toni 16 years ago

Interesting – thanks for that.

I rather think bicycle beauty is in the eye of the beer holder – sorry, beholder. But variety is the spice of life, and urban bikes certainly bring variety to the cycle lanes.

c. wess daniels 16 years ago

I’ve never heard of this magazine, but it looks great. Thanks for linking to it.

I wish we didn’t have a car either, I am not quite sure how my wife would get to work (it’s about 20 miles away) but otherwise we’d be all for it. I am enjoying England’s more bike friendly cities, nothing like LA.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

The car issue really does come down to location. Growing up in Australia, there are lots of places outside the cities where a car is close to essential.

Perhaps we could do with more clear articulations of the ethics of car ownership. Certainly I’ve been thinking lately about rights and responsibilties on this topic.

Oh and without doubt beauty is in the eye of the beer holder…

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