There are a lot of cycling magazines on newsstands–Bicycling, Velo News, Mountain Bike, Road Bike, Cycle Sport, Cyclocross, BMX Sport, etc–covering pretty much every single angle of bicycling possible, as long as it treats the bike as a sports/specialty machine. In the last issue of Bicycling Magazine there was only one article geared towards commuter bicyclists, a list of tips for an easy commute which amounted to about 2/3 of a page, the rest filled with ads and pictures. The slow bicyclists are simply underserved in the print media dept, and that’s where The Practical Pedal comes in.
This free newsprint magazine comes out quarterly of Bozeman, Montana. The magazine is also available for free on PDF and each issue, current or past, can be read in full at the website. This allows people who live in areas where the printed magazine is not freely distributed to have a chance to read the articles, but the print version is certainly the focus of the creators.
In the age of the Internet, publishing a print magazine is a ballsy move, and in the latest issue (#5) the editor addresses the digital/newsprint dichotomy, musing on what kind of content goes on which medium and why. You won’t find here any breaking news from the cycling world, any in-depth reviews of bikes/equipment, or any event listings. What you will find are articles about the bike in a day-to-day environment told in artistic, sometimes amusing ways, as well as ephemera dealing with the bike as practical vehicle.
For example, in Issue #5, you’ll find a story about a bicyclist and a driver at an intersection, a comparison between two cargo/utility bikes told as a post-apocalyptic story, and an article on the pros and cons of buying online vs a local bike shop. Throw in some short fiction and a couple of op-ed pieces and you’ve got this very neat 16-page celebration of the slow bicycle lifestyle.
I greatly enjoyed Issue #5 and subscribed to get printed copies delivered through the mail; yes, I could get it via PDF, but the idea here is to give them support to continue producing the magazine. I also ordered a bundle of 100 copies which I’ll be distributing around town as much as I can, be it at stores or to fellow riders at events like Bike Miami.
Check out The Practical Pedal and spread the word about this publication for the regular bicyclist.