In car commercials, drivers are often slick dudes or chicks dressed to kill in fancy cars tearing up an empty road that we can tell from the aerial view snakes through a gorgeous, green countryside. Usually the voice of a British person tells us how great the car is with sexy car engine noises coming to a crescendo at his or her pauses. Alternatively, "fun" and "affordable" cars are sold through ads were a young, hip person drives a car full of friends to an exciting night spot in a big, bustling city bumping the hottest tunes along the way. Of course, if people rode around in cars full of friends maybe there would be some emptyish roads outside of the least densely populated parts of this nation and we wouldn't be consuming gas so ravenously or putting alarming amounts of CO2 in the air. These commercials are pure fantasy, but I don't think they're fantasies about transportation as much as they're about transport--strong or intensely pleasurable emotion synonymous with ecstasy. The commercials are selling the idea that one kind of car will make you sexy and "posh" (hence the British narrator). Another kind of car is the key to fun. Why aren't bikes sold that way? There is probably a large segment of the population ready to dial into bikes for transport.
I think these lines from Helen Lee's fashion blog reveal a lot.
"Personally, I think Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meister) has adorable taste, so when she was riding about the Hamptons in the first few episodes of Gossip Girl this season, I wanted a retro style bike too. Even though I had not ridden a bike in at least 10 years."This may not be just about a television show (because I fail to see how a few episodes of a vapid "teen" drama could sell anything to an adult so well); this could be about the writer's fantasy of being fashionable, airbrushed-to-perfection, and privileged. Such a fantasy isn't uniquely hers. I've often leafed through the pages of the newest Anthropologie catalog and thought, "My gawd, I want to live in this world!" This soft-focus world of pitch-perfect retro style and beautiful locales has included European utility bikes for years. The first bike I ever saw in the catalog evoked the fantasy satirized here--it had a huge basket on the front along with all the proper accoutrement and even a double kickstand. I believe it was called "The Market Bicycle." Now they sell this Italian beauty and even though a gal isn't riding through Tuscany she can still shop at her local farmer's market and find the ingredients for a great meal. Unlike car commercials, I think fantastic bike commercials would sell a fantasy that women could achieve to some degree (men too). One makes her own leisure time riding a bike to work or on errands in whatever clothes she likes--no need to wait for a vacation or a huge decrease in traffic. And when cycling, one can actually enjoy the gorgeous green countryside and the company of one's friends unlike a person driving a car. Don't let the British narrator tell you any different.