More about skirts and helmets

The past two days, I have worn skirt and blouse outfits similar to what I wore in my last post, with a helmet, and drivers were pretty nice, but not as totally nice as before. Again, maybe it’s in my head, but it’s interesting to ponder.

For anyone who is “meh” about the Mary Poppins Effect talk because they don’t experience it – Mr. Dottie is right there with you and he’s perfectly content to ride a faster bike in construction-site work clothes, thankyouverymuch.

In an unrelated observation, the skirt below came down to my mid-calf, but was nowhere near my back wheel when I sat on the saddle. There are very few skirts that require a skirt guard, so I encourage those apprehensive about biking in mid-length skirts to give it a try. Just make sure your skirt is not touching your back wheel before setting off.

Hey, today’s Friday – happy Friday! I’m excited for the weekend because Trisha, Melissa and Erin, another friend from Nashville, will be in Chicago. I don’t know if Erin will be up for riding in the city, but I know Trisha and Melissa will be. This is when having multiple bikes comes in handy. I’ll be a mini bike share system. :)

  • Victoria See

    I don’t think the Mary Poppins effect works when faced with female drivers. A woman tailgated me for over a mile down the road yesterday afternoon, hanging two feet off my rear tire and honking the whole me. I—skirted and helmet-less—was scared out of my ever-loving mind. I’m never leaving my helmet at home again.

    http://pedestriantwopoints.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-went-to-go-home-like-usual-today.html

  • http://pin-hole.tumblr.com Dave

    I think it’s another of those things that just depends on the person – but I think for a majority of the population, the more you look like just someone they might meet walking down the street, the more likely they are to identify with you and therefore to treat you humanely.

    Clearly, as Victoria’s example shows (and I’m sure we all have some of those), this doesn’t apply to everyone, and some people are perfectly willing to intentionally scare you off the road to serve their own convenience.

  • http://pin-hole.tumblr.com Dave

    I think it’s another of those things that just depends on the person – but I think for a majority of the population, the more you look like just someone they might meet walking down the street, the more likely they are to identify with you and therefore to treat you humanely.

    Clearly, as Victoria’s example shows (and I’m sure we all have some of those), this doesn’t apply to everyone, and some people are perfectly willing to intentionally scare you off the road to serve their own convenience.

    • Vanessa Allen

      the only skirt I have had problems with are those skirts that have dipped edges on either side that flap in the wind behind me.

      I wonder what a yakkay type helmet does to the mary poppins effect? I notice people are nice-ish. But I wear a helmet that looks like a hat- am often in skirts and usually am riding a trike with kids. I think that should be called the Happy school bus effect.

  • http://www.cyclinmissy.com CyclinMissy

    I’ll be in town Saturday for the UofM/Northwestern game (at a bar somewhere) and then running the marathon on Sunday. I’ll be keeping an eye out for you lovely ladies on bikes!

  • steve_a_dfw

    Drivers are totally nice to me regardless of what I’m wearing, though they are nicer when I ride my bike than when I drive. People at Starbucks are nicer when I wear a helmet.

  • Vanessa Allen

    the only skirt I have had problems with are those skirts that have dipped edges on either side that flap in the wind behind me.

    I wonder what a yakkay type helmet does to the mary poppins effect? I notice people are nice-ish. But I wear a helmet that looks like a hat- am often in skirts and usually am riding a trike with kids. I think that should be called the Happy school bus effect.

  • Bess

    first time commenting here – I recently moved to chicago and I dig your blog (my Nashvillian brother recommended it). I thought of your last post yesterday when I was biking my 6 mile commute and had a couple in a giant SUV drive very aggressively close to me, then yell and me and give me the finger. I wondered what kind of Mary Poppins image (or not) I give off as a girl, often dressed in skirts and flats or heels, but with a sporty style of helmet. I sort of think my riding style (fairly aggressive, I admit) speaks louder. Anyway, I tend to have more of a problem with lighter-fabric skirts flying up in the front than getting caught in the wheel!

    • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

      Some people are just crazy assholes and I consider them outliers when discussing the Mary Poppins Effect. :)

  • Inspiredcyclist.wordpress.com

    Helmets or not, skirts or not, people should be courteous (and in the case of driving, cautious).
    Hope you have an absolutely fabulous weekend. I will look forward to reading about it!

  • Karen

    I think there is a lot to the Mary Poppins effect. I’ve been referred to as MP a few times and it seems to me that when I’m dressed for work, wearing nice shoes, for example, people slow down, they look. I think they’re just a bit more cautious. Maybe my feminity causes them to be a little more protective of me.

  • Karen

    I think there is a lot to the Mary Poppins effect. I’ve been referred to as MP a few times and it seems to me that when I’m dressed for work, wearing nice shoes, for example, people slow down, they look. I think they’re just a bit more cautious. Maybe my feminity causes them to be a little more protective of me.

    • http://letsgorideabike.com Trisha

      I totally recommend your bike share system! :) Hi from your living room.

  • http://letsgorideabike.com Trisha

    I totally recommend your bike share system! :) Hi from your living room.

  • Graceful

    If I wear a looser skirt the hem gets caught on the seat as I dismount and pulls the bike over on top of me. Not a classy way to exit the bike!

  • Graceful

    If I wear a looser skirt the hem gets caught on the seat as I dismount and pulls the bike over on top of me. Not a classy way to exit the bike!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be honest. I’ve never experienced the “Mary Poppins” effect on my cycle, helmet or not, dresses/skirts or not. I’ve come to the conclusion that at least part of it is the privilege of being conventionally pretty and thin. I am neither, though I do dress very very conventionally feminine. The spot where hatred of bike riders intersects with hatred of fat people can be a particularly vile place to be.

    I think there’s also an implied privilege of a certain level of disposable income. The ‘ladies’ bikes often ridden by people talking about the MP effect are often not cheap (even vintage 3spds seem to go for a goodly amount of money on Craigslist).

    And isn’t it sad that some of the bike riders least likely to bounce back easily from an auto accident are probably the least likely to benefit from the halo of any MP effect. I see a lot of Mexican/Latino and African American riders around here, most likely riding to work, on cruddy bikes mostly, and probably only because a car is out of reach. If I think I’m harassed a lot on my bike, I can see plainly how awful some drivers are to these cyclists, how close they’ll be driven past or yelled at.

    I guess I get sick sometimes hearing so much about an effect that mostly benefits only those that are pretty privileged already. Yeah, it’s great not to be harassed on one’s bike. I get that. Personally I live for those days when I ride past the local high school and no snot nosed kid yells “fat ass” at me. But you know, it’d be nice if we lived in a society where there was respect and space given to all cyclists, whether they are a pretty lady in a skirt on a Dutch bike or a poor person on one of those bikes that some bike bloggers insist on calling ‘bike shaped objects’. Or a fat person like me.

  • Anonymous

    Drivers are totally nice to me regardless of what I’m wearing, though they are nicer when I ride my bike than when I drive. People at Starbucks are nicer when I wear a helmet.

  • Bess

    first time commenting here – I recently moved to chicago and I dig your blog (my Nashvillian brother recommended it). I thought of your last post yesterday when I was biking my 6 mile commute and had a couple in a giant SUV drive very aggressively close to me, then yell and me and give me the finger. I wondered what kind of Mary Poppins image (or not) I give off as a girl, often dressed in skirts and flats or heels, but with a sporty style of helmet. I sort of think my riding style (fairly aggressive, I admit) speaks louder. Anyway, I tend to have more of a problem with lighter-fabric skirts flying up in the front than getting caught in the wheel!

  • Inspiredcyclist.wordpress.com

    Helmets or not, skirts or not, people should be courteous (and in the case of driving, cautious).
    Hope you have an absolutely fabulous weekend. I will look forward to reading about it!

  • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

    Some people are just crazy assholes and I consider them outliers when discussing the Mary Poppins Effect. :)