I look at the developing cycling café culture in the UK with both admiration and amusement. I mean, I Iive in Belgium and I cannot imagine a café that is not for cyclists. Head out on a Sunday and you can spot carbon fibre and aluminium frames, electrics, mountain bikes, Dutch standups, and city hybrids stacked outside the café windows, cyclists decked out in anything from spandex to blue jeans, all enjoying some refreshment before heading on.
The UK cafés have become a phenomena, with the Guardian featuring the London range. As for those further abroad, there are dozens of similar cafes across the country.
My local cafe has a dozen bikes outside their doors every day. On weekends, a sponsored club is often in the bar in a post-ride mode.
The idea that cyclists would focus on those identified as ‘cycling friendly’ would mean cafés almost overrun wth two wheels and their attached cyclists. There are so many cyclists, we simply go to our favourite haven.
And yet, head to Google and type in ‘cycling cafe Belgium’ and check the map return. A mere handful appear. That idea of a café that is dedicated to cycling is far harder to find, but they are coming. A few more open every year – nothing on par with London, yet.
London has become become addicted to the new trend. Cycling cafés are like the reincarnation of the wine bars of the eighties. They are appearing everywhere.
OK, calling them wine bars is slightly disparaging. Sorry.
The cafés celebrate the developing cycling culture in the UK that has taken hold in most major cities. London has seen massive changes in the past few decades, doubling the number of cyclists on the roads and threatening to have more bikes than cars moving on the streets during rush hours.
The cafés offer a location, a destination, where cyclists will be welcomed for the fervour, not mocked for their dress, nor teased for their non-motorised decisions. And, if you are slightly less bothered by the negative connotations given by the cycling, then it is just a fun way to celebrate your cycling allegiance.
Meanwhile, for us over here in Belgium, we are going to ride the bike to any and every café, lean our bikes on the walls, and get a coffee.
Regardless, next time get into London, I will be part of the growing masses who will visit a cycling café – and hopefully advance the awareness of cycling even further into the city’s consciousness.
When in London, do the as the cyclists do and head to a cycling café. There are a few in London now. Places and spaces for fixies and carbon fibre components, all to be watched while consuming cappuccino and cake.