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Thong Underwear Sign of Healthy Bicycle Culture? 22

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Montreal bicyclist – Photo by James Schwartz / RateMyVelo.com

While out for a morning jog with my dog yesterday, I noticed a lady with black thong underwear hiked up above her pant line while riding a bike along Toronto’s Queen West.

Not more than 3 metres behind her was a man on a bike – one hand on his handlebars, and his other hand holding up an iPhone snapping multiple photos of the revealed panties.

Perversion aside, could the mere presence of revealing and stylish undergarments on a city bicycle be a sign of a healthy bicycle culture? This question occupied my mind throughout the day and I came to the conclusion that yes, it is indeed a sign of a healthy bicycle culture.

It certainly isn’t something you would see very often in a city dominated by sport/gear crazed cyclists (Vancouver), or the lycra-clad racing culture that dominates Australia.

Throughout Canada, there are only two cities where I can clearly see the beginnings of a healthy bicycle culture: Toronto and Montreal. And I define a healthy bicycle culture as one where you would see plenty of regular people in regular clothes riding to a restaurant, or to a shop, or to work without cycle-specific gear.

In this video I recorded in June on an average 30-minute morning commute, you can clearly see the lack of cycle-specific gear on everyday Toronto bicyclists. It more closely resembles the Dutch or Danish bicycle culture on a much smaller scale:

Spotting that black thong on Queen street yesterday reminded me that although Toronto’s mayor and City Hall are keen to rid bicycles of the streets to “make room for cars”, a healthy culture of everyday people using bicycles to get from point A to point B already exists.

The focus of Toronto’s current mayor to bring more cars into the city will only drive more people to use bicycles (pun intended). And the City Council decision to tear out existing bike lanes will only solidify the resolve of the grassroots advocate groups who have been fighting so hard just to get the small amount of infrastructure that is now being torn out before our eyes.

Vancouver indeed has much better bicycle infrastructure and is blessed with a progressive, visionary mayor, but Toronto beats Vancouver in that it has a strong culture in its infancy of regular people that use bicycles to run their errands or to get to work – just like in Amsterdam except on a smaller scale.

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Amsterdam bicyclists – Photo by Amsterdamize / RateMyVelo.com

And for those cities that are more focused on the sport/recreational side of cycling, they too can enjoy their own thong underwear on cyclists:

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Photo of cyclist thong by Marla Showfer

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

    Interesting post and nicely put together. I think it is a sign of a health bicycle culture for sure. You should see the guy around Austin that cycles with nothing but a thong….hahahahaha. It’s a little creepy, but he’s quite famous.

    Darryl

  • scott sportsman

    I don’t agree with your “sign of a healthy bike culture”, but that aside, spending time in downtown Vancouver (including the west end, kits, and east van), or any of the major arterial bike routes/paths into the downtown, and the number of “regular people in regular clothes” riding bikes far exceeds the “sport/gear crazed cyclists”, with the exception of rain gear; perhaps you consider rain gear as “sport/gear crazed”.

  • grrlyrida

    Recently I was like the guy you mentioned in your article, snapping a picture of a pink thong in front of me. The “woman” however was 6’3 and wasn’t wearing much else other than a lot of make up. So I think you’re right, I see a lot more people here in LA and West Hollywood wearing regular clothes and riding upright bikes on my commute. I think it’s a good sign.

  • scott sportsman

    I don’t agree with your “sign of a healthy bike culture”, but that aside, spending time in downtown Vancouver (including the west end, kits, and east van), or any of the major arterial bike routes/paths into the downtown, and the number of “regular people in regular clothes” riding bikes far exceeds the “sport/gear crazed cyclists”, with the exception of rain gear; perhaps you consider rain gear as “sport/gear crazed”.

  • grrlyrida

    Recently I was like the guy you mentioned in your article, snapping a picture of a pink thong in front of me. The “woman” however was 6’3 and wasn’t wearing much else other than a lot of make up. So I think you’re right, I see a lot more people here in LA and West Hollywood wearing regular clothes and riding upright bikes on my commute. I think it’s a good sign.

  • http://www.fullfat.ca Octavian

    I wish I could ride around in jeans. I get sweaty and uncomfortable though, so I have to wear a set of clothes while riding (generally bike-specific, but not lycra) and change into work clothes when I arrive at work.
    About the other point you make, the mayor sets the direction and goals of the council, but councillors are free to disagree and vote against him. Your city council decided to tear down infrastructure, supporting the mayor, so maybe some blame should go to those that supported him.

  • Anamerican

    I’ve spent a lot of time in both Vancouver and Victoria, and while Vancouver has more of the celebrated infrastructure, Victoria has people on bikes. Last I checked, their modeshare was higher than Portland OR. Bike commuters are everywhere at rush hour, and during downtown events there are thousands of bikes locked to anything available.

  • Montrealize

    Woooo!! East coast rules!!

    Seriously though, I totally agree with you James. Thongs poking out are a good sign.
    Additional ones seen in Montreal this very season: cycling while holding umbrella, while reading a book, side by side holding hands, sid by side kissing, two on the bike girl sitting guy stand-pedaling, two on the bike girl sitting on boy’s lap, cycling while taking pictures (me), cycling while texting (to the point of falling off: wrote a post on it!), flip flops galore, barefoot cycling, pyjamas on Bixi, moving serious furniture on bikes, political campaigns on bike (last municipal election), drag queen guided bike tour of the gay village (last summer) and the list goes on…

    Did you find out whether the thong pics ended up on the net somewhere?

    • Robin Rombs

      A word to the wise: neither Toronto nor Montreal are on the East coast.

  • Montrealize

    Woooo!! East coast rules!!

    Seriously though, I totally agree with you James. Thongs poking out are a good sign.
    Additional ones seen in Montreal this very season: cycling while holding umbrella, while reading a book, side by side holding hands, sid by side kissing, two on the bike girl sitting guy stand-pedaling, two on the bike girl sitting on boy’s lap, cycling while taking pictures (me), cycling while texting (to the point of falling off: wrote a post on it!), flip flops galore, barefoot cycling, pyjamas on Bixi, moving serious furniture on bikes, political campaigns on bike (last municipal election), drag queen guided bike tour of the gay village (last summer) and the list goes on…

    Did you find out whether the thong pics ended up on the net somewhere?

  • Guest
  • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    In defence of Vancouver, they are seeing more ‘regular’ people riding now, but the image shown by many advocacy groups is the sporty image still.
    I believe if they ever remove their helmet law, they will see more regular people cycling.

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    In defence of Vancouver, they are seeing more ‘regular’ people riding now, but the image shown by many advocacy groups is the sporty image still.
    I believe if they ever remove their helmet law, they will see more regular people cycling.

  • Robin Rombs

    James,
    Have you spent any time in Vancouver or Victoria?
    TONS of ‘regular people’ ride all manner of bikes out here.

    Ever pick up a copy of MOMENTUM magazine out of Vancouver? Nary a ‘sporty’ cyclist to be seen!

    You don’t have to hate on other cities in order to promote cycling in your own, sir.

    Good day to you,
    ~Robin
    Victoria, BC

  • Robin Rombs

    James,
    Have you spent any time in Vancouver or Victoria?
    TONS of ‘regular people’ ride all manner of bikes our here.

    Ever pick up a copy of MOMENTUM magazine out of Vancouver? Nary a ‘sporty’ cyclist to be seen!

    You don’t have to hate on other cities in order to promote cycling in your own, sir.

    Good day to you,
    ~Robin
    Victoria, BC

  • Robin Rombs

    A word to the wise: neither Toronto nor Montreal are on the East coast.

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  • http://www.socialskateboarding.com/brand/bones-bearings lucyana34

    I don’t think it work most of the time, But whatever you point out here its good. Sign of healthy bike culture is depend on different things. Lovely sharing. Thanks!

  • http://www.socialskateboarding.com/list/complete-boards lucyana34

    I don’t think it work most of the time, But whatever you point out here its good. Sign of healthy bike culture is depend on different things. Lovely sharing. Thanks!

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    Healthy bicycle culture has different sign in different countries. I don’t want to argue with your point. It also effective and relevant with issue. Thanks!

  • http://www.brandretailers.com/ lucy_mary86

    Healthy bicycle culture has different sign in different countries. I don’t want to argue with your point. It also effective and relevant with issue. Thanks!