SHEFFIELD is making its mark in the international fashion stakes - on two wheels.
It is being acclaimed alongside the likes of Barcelona, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and Copenhagen for its ‘cycling chic’ - and it’s not for the tight-fitting outfits worn by the likes of Bradley Wiggins, but for everyday clothes.
The only two other English cities at the head of the pack are London and Brighton.
The movement was launched in 2007 by Danish journalist and film maker Mikael Colville-Andersen, who has been photographing fashionable Copenhageners on bicycles for some time.
He said: “We aim to highlight that bike culture is an effortless pursuit. No Lycra needed. No fancy gear. Just get out and ride. Style over speed. Man or woman.”
His blog, copenhagencyclechic.com, is not only a fashion guide, but aims to shows how riding a bike, in your own time, in your own clothes, can improve the quality of life in cities.
Sheffield, where numbers of cyclists are steadily increasing, despite the hills, is seen as a fully-fledged member of the ‘Cycle Chic Republic’.
Mair Hughes, of Nether Edge, launched Sheffield Cycle Chic three years ago.
“I wanted to inspire others to cycle, by showing the diversity of cyclists in the city and to show cycling as a normal means of getting about in your everyday clothes,” she said.
“To me the blog shows that Sheffield cyclists come from a wide range of backgrounds and ages and use their bikes to get to school, to work, to go shopping, or even just to walk the dog.”
The website has grown and is now also under the wing of local photographer and city cycling instructor Jeff Carroll, who takes regular portraits around Sheffield.
He said: “At Sheffield Cycle Chic we celebrate riding bikes in our normal attire. However, if your normal attire happens to be stylish then so much the better.”
Jeff added: “I’ve been cycling in Sheffield for over 20 years, and there are a lot more Sheffield chic cyclists than people think.
“I think the numbers are growing exponentially.”
Jeff and Mair note that Sheffield has a long way to go as a cycling city compared to Copenhagen, where a third of commuter journeys are cycled, usually in normal clothes.
But Sheffield already has companies pushing the cycling percentages, notably the two big hospitals with about 5% of staff regularly cycling to work, and Sheffield University with 9%.
Developments in Sheffield this year include the Sheffield Cycleboost scheme to provide loan bikes along with commuting and maintenance support to companies and communities in the northern half of Sheffield and the creation of off-road bike lanes, as well as a continuation of cycle training in all Sheffield primary schools.
NB Not all Sheffield cyclists choose to wear helmets. Within the cycling community, there is controversy over their effectiveness.