I went to the store to buy some pants today (yes, I know, black Friday and all but I really needed some pants). I was surprised to see that Levi’s is now selling bicycle “commuter” jeans that are water resistant, have extra sewing on the inseam for ruggedization, stretch fabric, a “utility” waistbelt to carry a U-lock, antimicrobial protection against odors, and when you turn up the cuff, they have a reflector sewn in. Kudos, Levi’s! Unfortunately, I didn’t like them as much as the pair I ended up buying but I’m glad they are available. Clearly designed with the Mission/Williamsburg hipster crowd in mind.
Here is a video showing the Japanese bicycle umbrella holder in action. In this TV interview with the inventor, we learn that it has been around for 30 years. He claims they never have accidents from wind but that people should show courtesy for fellow cyclists and pedestrians so they don’t get any injuries. His next project is to design a streamlined bicycle umbrella that is long and narrow to prevent accidents. The video is amazing, showing how they really work in action and just how many there are. Apparently, they are most popular in Tokyo and especially Osaka. You see them after about 20 seconds in.
Just in from my Okinawan informant:
Another interesting random fact about bikes in japan, it’s against the law to put your umbrella up while on your bike and it was controversial whether to ban umbrella holders (さすべえ or sasubee) as well. The thing is, umbrella holders are considered to be for old ladies (obasan) in tokyo, but in Osaka it’s difficult to find a woman without one- even young girls in their 20s!!!
They’re dangerous with the wind, umbrellas first of all, people are pretty determined to ride their bikes even in typhoons so they first banned using umbrellas, then i guess someone argued that having both hands on the bike doesnt really make it completely safe, they do fly away, like mary poppins I guess. And people try to ride their bikes in such crowded places, you know how it hurts when you get poked in the eye by one!
Check out more details and close up pictures of how these things work here (in Japanese).
Laura also spotted this rusty old Swedish Kronan bike from what looks like the bike parking next to Malmö central station (which is also where the photo headlining this blog is from). Notice how it has a seat cover tucked under the seat. Clearly, they are more interested in protecting their pants from rain than their bike!
Not sure why Swedes seem more concerned about staying dry. Danes never seem to bother much with seat covers, even when they leave their bike on the street without any covered parking. Admittedly, there is more often covered parking in Copenhagen though so that could be the reason.
My housemate Laura spotted this bike parking infrastructure in Malmö this weekend. Looks like a nice solution for keeping your seat dry!
I saw this at the Sail Festival in Amsterdam. Seemed a bit extreme for a short term parking solution, but certainly keeps the water off!
Sometime back in China I saw a simple solution to biking in the rain without the pain of getting wet or letting your bags or any other form of luggage get wet. It was a perfect answer to commuting in the rain. It was something like a raincoat just that the front part was extended to the handle bar and it had a little clip to clamp it to the handle making a small canopy to cover the entire front part of the bike. There was enough space for a kid to sit without getting wet. This whole thing cost hardly 2 US dollars.
With this simple solution one doesn’t need to bother about umbrellas anymore. (Pictures are on their way)
Posted in China
Tagged gear, rain, weather
Bicycling with an umbrella is quite popular in Holland, despite the wind. Here are a few girls demonstrating the classic style. There are now sleek umbrellas specially designed for the purpose that are a bit more aerodynamic. The pink colored clothes in the images are for the gay pride parade which had just finished before these were shot.
Notice how her umbrella is buckling under pressure. The heels and bag over the shoulder are nice touches.
Fairly classic. Note the cyclist with umbrella going down the other street behind her.
She looks like she’s struggling a bit. Using a U-lock, which is pretty uncommon here.
Of course, when I tried it, my Indian umbrella was immediately turned inside out and one of the metal points popped out. I also found it a bit tricky to ride with only one hand. Keeping the hand next to the bell free is probably more important than the shifter. Since my bicycle has handlebar brakes, this also compromised my ability to brake quickly so starting and stopping were more complicated.
Apparently, this is also quite common practice in Japan. Haven’t seen it much in Denmark.