Reactions to our bike commuting can come in two extremes. Some act like we are superwomen or daredevils for riding everywhere, even in winter. Others act like we are frivolous and silly for riding in skirts with Dutch bikes. Neither of these extremes are accurate.
My gut reactions to these two viewpoints vary just as wildly. I want to assure the “superwoman” group that riding a bike is a simple and fun act that requires little more than sitting and pedaling, while I want to curtly inform the “silly” group that we are out there riding every day in any weather, while they are curled up on the couch reading back issues of Bicycling Magazine.
So I must ask myself, which reaction is more accurate? Is cycling a simple act that anyone can perform or a determined act of sheer will? Can we reconcile the two? (I was looking to capture a little of both in the photos.)
The press lately has been fascinated with women on bikes. Reading these articles brings us a mixture of pleasure, optimism, frustration and annoyance. While mainstream acknowledgment of transportation bicycling is positive, the coverage regarding women has been shallow. Back in June the New York Times and Treehugger published articles that focus on women’s appearance and risk aversion – flaccid analyses that Trisha took head on in Mind the Gender Gap. Our female readers made their thoughts known loud and clear, which I highlighted in Women’s Voices.
My sister and nephew
Now Scientific American has jumped into the discussion with its article, “How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road: To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want.” While there is the typical assertion that women are more risk averse than men, based on “studies across disciplines,” there is also an interesting note that even within the same city, women’s cycling rates shoot up when one counts riders on protected paths.