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        Showing posts with label subversive photos. Show all posts
        Showing posts with label subversive photos. Show all posts

        29 June 2017

        Egyptian Cycling History - Then and Now - Subversive Photo Series

        In this latest installment of our "Subversive Cycling Photos" series, we travel to Egypt. The same utterings are heard here as most other places. About how "it's too hot to cycle" and "oh, but we never had urban cycling here..." With these historical photos, we once again bust some myths, like we've done for Singapore, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, New South Wales, Vancouver, Oslo, Dublin, Canberra, etc.

        Copenhagenize Design Company has had the pleasure of hosting architect and urban planner, Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal, on an exchange from Egypt made possible by the support of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute. He curated these photographs highlighting a long and proud history of using the bicycle as transport in his country.

        By Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal

        Egypt's President Sisi has been on a bike ride or two, like this one in 2014. He has said that Egyptians should cycle more and that the country can save 16 Egyptian pounds for each 20 km cycled. He has, however, failed to provide any infrastructure.

        In the recent memory of some Egyptians, cycling used to serve a much wider group of users than today. Residents in Port Said, a port city on the Suez Canal, are proud that cycling used to be their main mode of transportation. Indeed, during rush hour, the ferries were loaded with the bicycles of employees going to work. It´s a narrative that is heard in many other cities, usually followed by remarks about how women and children used to feel much safer cycling in cities and how there used to be many more bike shops - especially those serving a double-purpose. Shops that were also garages that would clean, repair and store bikes overnight.

        Stories of huge bicycle racks next to office buildings, factories and schools are heard across the nation, from the north to the south. The textile factory in Shebin, a city in the northern Nile Delta used to host one of those, which was removed after cycling disappeared under the weight of car-centric planning.

        Egyptian Cycling History
        A bicycle rushing past an omnibus, Port Said, late 19th century.

        Egyptian Cycling History
        Cairo, early 20th century

        Egyptian Cycling History
        College Saint Marc students, Alexandria, early 20th century

        Egyptian Cycling History Egyptian Cycling History
        Left: A magazine article about the opening of a factory in Qena, south of Egypt. Factories were associated with bicycles in the 1960s.
        Right: Bike shops used to be a very common sight, catering to many clients. Port Said.

        Egyptian Cycling History 1950s
        Caption reads: “University girls in Asyut are more practical than their colleagues, overcoming traffic problems by using bicycles” a quote from a magazine. Asyut 1960s.

        Egyptian Cycling History 1935
        Street scene, 1935.

        Egyptian Cycling History 1980
        Bicycles were a normal sight on the streets, at least through the 1980s.

        See more historical photos from Egyptian cycling history here.

        Cycling Persists in Egypt

        Egyptian Cycling Culture
        “Change the way you commute” An advertisement in Tahrir square for vacation houses on the red sea coast. Summer 2016.

        For many Egyptians, like other places around the world, cycling has become something unusual. Something subcultural, something done by poor messengers to transport goods, something for kids to do or a tool for advertising luxury, gated communities (photo, above).

        Egyptian Cycling Culture
        Bike parking at a school in Assiout, Southern Egypt. Photo credits: Yusuf Halim.

        In many areas in the south of Egypt and the Nile delta, one can, however, still witness a wide variety of bicycle users. In Assiout, in the more conservative south, one can still see huge bike racks in schools (above) and public buildings.

        Egyptian Cycling Culture
        Bicycle user on a vintage bike. Photo credits: Osama Aiad

        While in other cities, men in their 50s or 60s riding vintage bicycles serves as a reminder that cycling is not alien to Egyptian minds and culture.

        Egyptian Cycling Culture
        Bread delivery man riding in a Cairo street while holding wooden trays and reading a newspaper. Source: facebook page; Everyday Egypt

        When former bicycle users from this generation are asked about the reasons for the decrease in cycling modal share, they talk about the change of time, about the era where cars were much less and streets safer and you could feel safe about your kids rushing on their own through the streets. They also talk about the availability of bike racks near homes and work, and services around the city. All practical reasons that could easily be addressed by cities that aim to have less congested, less polluted streets with a better quality of life that is not exclusive to luxurious gated communities. Not to mention a healthy density and an economic alternative to sprawl.

        Egyptian Cycling Culture

        Unlike the old era, attempts to build bike infrastructure in the few last years in Egypt haven’t achieved the required goals. Instead of being used as an example of how cycling doesn’t fit the Egyptian culture, these projects must be addressed critically.

        Egyptian Cycling Culture
        A symbolic stretch of bike lane.

        The bicycle lanes painted on the Shahid corridor, an 8-lane highway in the desert, 14 km from the center of Cairo and 3 km from the nearest residential low density suburban area doesn’t seem to be a logical location to start.

        The UNDP project of cycling lanes in Shebin are often ignored by bicycle users; the lanes deal poorly with intersections, also they don’t provide enough safety for bike users from traffic and are very vulnerable to be overtaken by car parking.

        Safety and the perception of safety is a main issue keeping down the numbers of bike users and, if not addressed properly with infrastructure, cycling will not rise again as transport in Egyptian cities.

        30 December 2015

        Oslo - Subversive Bicycle History

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: Bygd?y Allé, Oslo // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1943 // Norwegian Folkemuseum

        A new article in our Subversive Bicycle Photo Series. Images of cities back when the bicycle was a normal transport form - as it was everywhere for decades. Subversive because if news got out that our bicycle history was long and well-established... well, then... The 99% might start doing it again. Lord knows THAT would be a catastrophe. So keep this to yourself.

        The good people at the City of Oslo's Sykkelprosjektet (The Bicycle Project) - which is effectively Oslo's bicycle office - understand one of the main challenges facing us when trying to reestablish the bicycle as transport in our cities.

        The short-term memory of humans.

        Everywhere I travel with my work I hear the same thing - often from people who should know better. That urban cycling isn't possible "here". The usual myths about climate/topography are mentioned (and promptly busted) but also tales of how they have "never cycled here".


        Luckily, intrepid followers of this blog started to delve into the local photo archives and a great many photos have been harvested and presented in this series from all over the world.

        Now it's time for Oslo. Sykkelprosjektet found some photos in the archives of two museums and put them on their Facebook group.

        Cycling. A normal transport form in the Norwegian capital. For decades. On regular bicycles. Don't tell Captain Spandex and his crew, let alone the car lobby. And to think the City is actual throwing money at e-bike subsidies, but totally and completely ignoring the kind of bicycle that served the city for almost a century. Wasting taxpayer money on putting more motorised vechicles on the streets is rather ridiculous.

        But let's let these photos from a rational, intelligent age speak for themselves, shall we?

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: Drammensveien, Oslo // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1940 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

        Just traffic.
        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: ?vrevoll Galoppbane, B?rum (horse racing track) // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // 
        Year: 1941 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

        Bike Parking at the horse races in B?rum.

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: Ingierstrand, Oppeg?rd // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1941 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

        Bike parking at a beach near the city.

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: Katten, Oslo // Photographer: Unknown // Year: 1950 // Oslo Museum

        Bike parking at another beach near the city.

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: Dronning Blancas vej, Bygd?y, Oslo // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1943 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

        Just traffic.

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: R?dhusplassen/City Hall Square, Oslo // Photographer: Arne Tjensvold // Year: 1950 // Oslo Museum

        Just a normal bike and a regular citizen outside City Hall.

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location unknown // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1943 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

        Great skirtguards. Normal thing all over the world back then.

        Oslo Bicycle History
        Location: Skaugum Asker // Princess Astrid, Princess Ragnhild & Prince Harald. // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1939 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

        Three mini royals on wheels.

        13 September 2013

        Subversive Bicycle Photos - Rio de Janeiro

        Rio de Janeiro 1940s - Vintage Cycle Chic
        Before the Girl from Ipanema, there was the Bicycle from Copacabana. 1940s.

        It's been a while since we've released Subversive Bicycle Photos, not least because we fear that our bicycle tires will get slashed in the middle of the night by the automobile industry for uncovering secret photo documentation about how cycling used to be normal in every city in the world. This is, however, the age of Snowdons and Assanges and we have been inspired to keep on at it, despite the consquences.

        While we are slowly chipping away at the bizarre but nonetheless prevalant misconceptions that bicycles are a new-fangled intruder in cities and all the ridiculous comments like "people won't cycle here... it's too hot/cold/hilly/", they remain a hurdle. Despite over a century of evidence to the contrary.

        Do NOT let these photos get out. Use a proxy server in Tajikistan when viewing them and delete your cache. Nobody must know that cycling was a normal transport form in Rio de Janeiro. It's our little secret. Especially don't tell the president of the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras. She was quoted recently that she "loves traffic jams. They're good for business."

        Lord knows what she'll do if she sees these photos from the 1940s.
        Rio de Janeiro 1940s - Vintage Cycle Chic
        Bicycle parking on Copacabana Beach, 1940s. We love the classic Danish Bulldog child's seat.

        Rio de Janeiro 1942 - Vintage Cycle Chic

        Rio de Janeiro. 1940s.

        Thanks to Zé Lobo and Tiago for the photos. They're probably hiding somewhere in the Amazon as I write this.

        For more photos that you MUST NOT VIEW, here are some from Los Angeles, Canberra, Queensland, New South Wales, Vancouver, Singapore, Dublin.

        08 January 2012

        Subversive Bicycle Photos - Los Angeles

        Los Angeles. 1900. Spring St. near 8th.
        The latest installment in our Subversive Bicycle Photos series is from a city that enjoyed a modal share for bicycles of 20% at the turn of the last century and built impressive protected bicycle infrastructure like this 10 km, elevated cycle track back in 1900.

        Alas, the bicycle disappeared from this area that was described like this in an 1897 newspaper article: "There is no part of the world where cycling is in greater favor than in Southern California, and nowhere on the American continent are conditions so favorable the year round for wheeling."

        Thanks to our reader, Rick, we found some subversive photographs showing the bicycle as an accepted and respected part of life in Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Public Library archives.

        As ever with these subversive photos, do not let them get out. If society at large were to learn that the bicycle used to be an integral part of life for Citizens Cyclists and not just some recent sub-cultural activity for middle-class white men, who knows what might happen. People might realise that riding a bicycle used to be normal and could quite possibly become normal again. Who know what resistance might appear. At the moment it's just this, but it could get worse. We all know what happened when the car industry went after another competitive transport form.

        Burbank. 1908.

        First Street looking east from Yale Avenue in Claremont in 1915.

        Los Angeles. Ca. 1890. 632 South Broadway.

        Balboa. Newport Beach. 1940s. Photographer: Herman Schultheis.

        Los Angeles Bicycle Police Squad. 1904. Broadway past 6th St.

        Los Angeles. 1905. Rambler Bicycles at 207-209 West 5th Street near Spring.

        Los Angeles. 1902. Commercial High School participate in the Fiesta Floral Parade with a bicycle float.

        Los Angeles. 1915. Hill and 4th.

        Los Angeles. Ca. 1904. Main and 9th. Bicycle Parade heading for Griffith Park.

        Long Beach. Ca. 1895. Pine Avenue.

        Los Angeles. Ca. 1930s. Variety Arts Theater.

        Los Angeles. 1899. Spring Street.

        From left:
        - Portrait of Japanese boy with bicycle and notebook ca 1900.
        - Grace Toya with bicycle at the Tule Lake internment camp 1945.
        - Los Angeles Bicycle Club 1890s.

        Los Angeles High School's Kodak and Bicycle Club ca 1900.

        From top left:
        - Los Angeles ca. 1930s.
        - LA Rooftop Stunt 1930s.
        - Ditto.
        - Los Angeles "Old Settlers Parade" 1937. Photographer: George J. Cooper

        Leela McAdam nee McCabe - winner of the best decorated bicycle for the 1900 Fourth of July parade in Lompoc stands outside her home at 137 South J Street.

        Oh, and tell your local bike polo playing hipster that he/she is soooo old school. Bike Polo in Los Angeles, 1930s.

        Might be fun to see photographs taken these days from the same locations. Let us know if you take them.

        Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archives.