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Janis Cooke Newman

Urban Ledger: My Two-Wheeled Kingdom

I could tell you that I started riding my bike to work because I wanted to save the planet. But really, it was an article in The New York Times Style section. (My significant other swears I will do anything if it appears in The New York Times Style section. However, I have yet to take up shower-skipping-as-fashion-statement, a concept that appeared in an issue this past fall.) This story featured a number of stylish young women from Brooklyn (where else?) who managed to turn bicycling into a catwalk-worthy event. These two-wheeled fashionistas could be found pedaling their vintage cruisers across the five boroughs in Prada skirts, bibbed sweaters, and kitten heels. Studying the photographs of these excruciatingly chic women whizzing through NYC traffic sans helmets, I desperately wanted to be one of them, despite the fact that my closet contained not one of the aforementioned items of clothing. And that I was somewhat fuzzy on the definition of a kitten heel.

Nevertheless, the following morning, I pumped up the tires of my granny-geared bike—because SF is hillier than all five New York boroughs put together. I pulled on an Athleta yoga skirt, which, while not Prada, does possess its own stretchy style, and opted for my usual SF footwear: cowboy boots. Thanks to the pointy toes, they turned out to be surprisingly easy for navigating toe clips. Following the example of the chic young Brooklynites, I also chose to ride sans helmet, a decision I amended after two days, realizing that a massive head injury is very difficult to render stylish.

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