My work has me spending much time on college and university campuses. Among the myriad fads that are sweeping the dirtbag and hipster college student sets these days is riding the retro bike around. My feelings on this fad is “more power to them”. I’ve got no qualms with college students on meager incomes recycling old steel bikes found in landfills or yard sales.
Every once in a while a really cool old bike will find its way onto the rack outside my office building. One of my students, a kid named Mike, rides a classy old Flandria fixie. Mostly what I see though are dilapidated rides that leave me wondering if they would even work. That is until I see the bike’s owner pedaling across campus to their dorm or next class.
The Rule violations on these machines are countless. Just look at the picture above. The rider of this bike obviously has no awareness of Rule #48 and Rule #49, let alone an attempt at following them. I ask though, do the Rules even apply to bikes and riders such as this? Probably not. Like the coffee trader in Rwanda, the bike taxi in India, or the messenger in the city, these bikes are merely beasts of burden and serve their riders only in function, ignoring form.
Far be it from me to critique these dedicated cyclists using a canon of Rules they know nothing about. Whatever their motivations are for riding, whether it be retro-posuer style, some ideal of being green, utility, economy, etc., they are undoubtedly riding more than I am through the winter months. I can’t fault them for that.
// The Rules