[Can] New York revert to New Amsterdam? Can the bicycle, the urban answer to the wild mustang, slow down and put fenders on? Can the urban cyclist, he of the ragtag renegade clothes or shiny spandex, grow up and put on a tie?
Serious obstacles stand in the way. Even as bicycle sales and ridership are up, even as the city becomes more bike friendly than ever, the extreme poles of bike culture are still in many ways hostile to biking as it is done in the Netherlands. There, where riding a bicycle to work in a suit and tie is as notable an act as drinking a cup of coffee, there is no bike culture — all culture includes the bike.
James Vicente, a court attorney at the Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn, knows the quandary. After a trip to Amsterdam five years ago, Mr. Vicente was inspired to ride to work in his suit and tie. (He converted his road bike to a fixed-gear bike, with detachable fenders.)
“I liked the perversity of it,” he said. “I liked saying: ‘Anyone can do this. It’s normal.’ I never ride with a helmet either, even when people are telling me I’m an idiot. Riding a bike should be normal, and you shouldn’t have to wear a funny Styrofoam hat.”