Chain Reaction [SwerveCalgary.com]
The cycle-chic movement sprang from a single photograph taken by a Calgarian in Copenhagen. It’s now a worldwide phenomenon, with cyclists choosing style over speed. They’re contributing to a more sustainable city and looking good, sans helmets.
The mystery grabs you first. Who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Where is this? Then, the incongruity seeps in, and you start to question everything else. When was this image taken: last week or last century? What’s with the red handbag? And the most important question, the one that sparked everything: How can she ride a bike wearing that? My brain runs through that sequence every time I look at “the photo that launched a million bicycles.”
It was a soggy November 14 in 2006, on a street in Copenhagen, Denmark, the kind of day that only photographers love, because of the light. Mikael Colville-Andersen, a long way from the southeast Calgary community of Fairview where he grew up, was out with his Canon, just “doing some street photography,” he says. That’s when he caught the image. He posted the photo (shown at the top of this page) to Flickr, and the comments started rolling in. “Great photo—the washed-out sky, the guy leaning into the curve and of course the yummy girl with the long skirt on the bike really make it.” Yummy girls always help photos on Flickr, but there was something more here. Colville-Andersen liked the reaction, so he took some more. “When you have an audience, you just keep going,” he says. “It just kind of snowballed.”