Monday, January 18, 2010


I've spoken with a few people from Toronto in the past couple months and almost all of them know Igor Kenk.  Some actually found a bike (at one time, their own) in the stacks of Kenk's pantheon of stolen rides. 

What a strange combination of enthusiasm for the bike, twisted bike theft nightmare, and serious doco formality.  

The video tells a compelling story about the love amongst people in North America for their bicycles, and the vision these bike freaks maintain in the face of increasing environmental concern.  Oh, and it also describes a maniacal bike theft magnate who often employed the mentally ill to do his dirty work.  

Perhaps a problem with the approach to the bicycle in North America, as seen here in this Canadian documentary, is that it's an approach laced with evident passion.  The average person does not and probably will not feel as passionate about riding a bicycle as the average North American bike nut.   But that does not mean said average person is passionless about neighborhoods and cities that boast a hospitable bicycle culture.

So I'm not sure the last bit, about how, "the outburst over lost bikes (Igor Kenk stole them!) revealed just how passionate cyclists are about their rides.  That passion is now fueling a global grassroots bike revolution, that's threatening a car, and will transform the future of transportation."

This "passion for our rides" may in fact be the sort of "fetishism" (to alter a phrase borrowed from Mikael Colville Andersen) with personal transport to which the average person is unlikely to relate.  

For example, bike theft in Copenhagen or Amsterdam is a familiar part of life.  In-convenient but often un-avoidable, bike theft plagues these bike culture capitals.  But because bicycles are so common, it's easy to find another one...and few are deeply upset about losing their city bike.  Because if the Danes and Dutch have a nice bike (and heaps of them do!), it lives inside and gets the double lock treatment when it ventures out.

A passion for bicycles will take us a long way.  But can it in fact "fuel a grassroots bike revolution?"  

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