Tag Archives: women and cycling

How to: bicycling in a long dress

Bicycling in a long dress is possible! In fact, with the right set-up, it’s downright simple. Some may ask, “Why even bother biking in a long dress?” My response is that my bike is transportation and I do not want it to dictate what I wear (except pencil skirts, those are crazy – unless you convert it!).

If you are interested in learning how, read on!

Three major factors determine how successfully you can bike in a long dress: the dress, the bike, and the technique.

The Dress

Must allow enough freedom to move your legs in a cycling motion. The skirt needs to be relatively full or made of stretchy material with a slit, such as the one pictured above. Test the dress’s bike-ability before leaving (or purchasing) by doing some knee-lifts.

The Bike

Must have several characteristics to work with a long dress, unless you tie your dress up by your knees. First, a step-through frame (has anyone done this with a diamond frame??). Second, a covered chain to keep the skirt from being eaten and/or greased up. Third, a skirt guard if the skirt is full, so it won’t get pulled in the rear wheel spokes. Note that this was not an issue with the dress and bike above. Fourth, fenders, otherwise your skirt will rub against the rear tire. Finally, a clean frame is a good idea, since your dress will rub against it a fair bit.

The Technique

For the most part, you can bike as normal. You may benefit from hitching the skirt up a bit, to provide more give around the thighs. Experiment to determine what works best for each dress. You may also want to dismount fully at stoplights, to reduce stress on the seams of the skirt.

Here is a quick video that covers the topic. I did this on the fly yesterday, since I happened to be wearing a long dress. I’m not a professional film-maker, so not the best quality video ever, but I hope simply seeing someone bike in a long dress is helpful.

Have any of you biked in a long dress or skirt? I’d love to hear stories and additional tips in the comments! Please feel free also to share photos, via either html or links.

{For more advice, come out to my The Lady and the Bike class in Chicago tomorrow!}

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March’s women-who-bike brunch

The Women-Who-Bike Brunch tradition continued this month. March’s brunch took place at Tweet in Uptown with a great group of 15 women (and the restaurant hostess wants to join us next time!). I did not get as many photos as I would have liked, but here is a sampling of the awesomeness. :)

My biscuits and gravy!

Cool quirkiness: chicken hat and baton twirler jacket

No trespassing!

Chic knit hats

Meself

The next brunch will be April 1st – that’s right, April Fool’s Day. If you’re interested in joining us, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.

Is anyone out there organizing brunches or other get-togethers in their own cities? It’s such a great way to meet cool new people – highly recommended!

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February’s Women Who Bike Brunch

Yesterday the Chicago Women Who Bike Brunch descended upon Haymarket Brewery in the West Loop.

Tab: Bikers

Haymarket is a great place for big groups and easily accommodated our table of 25.

The food was delicious, especially for a brewery, and I enjoyed some of the best French toast ever.

The mimosas each came with their own mini bottle of champagne!

After a long and luxurious meal, we headed outside to chat and slowly unlock our bikes.  The weather was partly sunny and 40 degrees, so there was no big rush.

A few of us decided to go back inside and embark on some Haymarket beer taste-testing at the bar.  Such a good idea!  Their beer is as good as their food.  (Thanks, Sara!)

I always look forward to celebrating a new month with this great group of women!

If you’re in the Chicago area and would like to join us, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.  Our next meet-up will be a happy hour this Thursday.

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January’s Women-Who-Bike Brunch

The first Women-Who-Bike brunch of the new year marked an excellent start to 2012! The lure of beautiful weather and the highly-acclaimed new restaurant Nightwood drew 23 women, including several first-timers.

Because the restaurant was in Pilsen, about 8-10 miles from my house depending on the route, I met up with a group of six to bike together. Sunday morning is the best time to cycle and low traffic allowed us to ride side-by-side and chat most of the way.

After a delicious meal, we all spent a good amount of time outside, chatting and bike-gawking.

Martha took some photos for her fab blog, Bike Fancy.  Other highlights: Purple!

Carrie’s Fluevog boots and the skirt she made herself!

Everything about this outfit with the headscarf, orange coat, lace slip, brogues, and leather bag!   Comfortable windbreakers!

A pink DeFietsfabriek and glam sunglasses!

Letterman jackets, leopard scarfs, and chic black!

Red jackets!

The two of us biked home together along the Lakefront Trail, chatting the whole way, taking the 18th Street protected bike lane that I blogged about here.

Good times, Ladies!

Anyone in Chicago interested in joining the monthly brunch group? Email LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.

Also – Chicago’s Critical Lass Ride is this Thursday.  Who knew January would be such a great time for bicycling?  Take advantage of the freakishly mild weather!

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November’s women-who-bike brunch

The Women-Who-Bike group has been coming together for brunch every month for over a year now.  November’s brunch was number 13.  There were 20 of us, a great mix of regulars and new faces, plus Trisha.  I was especially excited to have a group of teenage girls and their mentors from West Town Bike’s Girls Bike Club.   (Much more about them in a future post!)

I was so busy eating and gabbing, I managed to take pictures of only a few of the women, so this is merely a sampling of the awesomeness.  :)

I must give thanks to Bleeding Heart Bakery and Cafe on Chicago Avenue.  Even though they don’t take reservations, they accommodated our large group, plus the food was delicious and our waitress was super sweet.

 

If you are in Chicago and interested in joining us for brunch, we meet on the first Sunday of the month.  Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com to get on the mailing list for the details.
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Mary Poppins Effect in the Media

“The Mary Poppins Effect is a matter of humanizing the bicycle rider,” says Ms. Brackett, who co-authors the blog LetsGoRideaBike.com. “It helps drivers realize bicyclists are people too.”

Crains Chicago Business magazine has a little article about the Mary Poppins Effect by Claire Bushey. You can read the entire article here.

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July Women-who-bike Brunch

July’s women-who-bike brunch in Chicago on Sunday was a lovely little affair.  (I believe most of our ladies were resting up after the annual overnight L.A.T.E. Ride.)  We set up a picnic on the banks of a river just off a recreational bike path.  Everyone brought a little something to share and there were lots of fresh berries, homemade pastries, and refreshing spiked drinks.


The weather was a bit hot and there was a flat tire at the end, but nothing that the ladies could not handle.

It was so lovely to meet new people and to see familiar faces!

Are you in Chicago and interested in joining us?  Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike.com.  All women-who-bike (or are-considering-biking) are welcome!

More events coming up:

  • Women-who-bike Happy Hour: July 20, 6:00, Blue Line Lounge
  • Tour de Fat: This Saturday, July 16, Palmer Square
  • Seersucker Social: This Sunday, July 17, 1:00, Streetside Bar
  • Critical Lass: Thursday, July 21, 6 pm, Polish Triangle

Hope to see you there!

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June’s Women-who-bike Picnic Brunch!

Sun, women, bikes, brunch, sangria, fresh mown grass = a perfect Sunday morning.  This month’s women-who-bike brunch was a picnic on the lakefront, with everyone bringing a dish to share – and boy were there some delicious baked goods!  Although Chicago has scores of great brunch restaurants, the picnic was so much better than being cooped up indoors.  After about 8 months of cold, Chicagoans know how to enjoy the summer!

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves now.













Thank you, awesome women, for choosing to spend your Sunday morning with the group!
As always, women in the Chicago area who would like to join the brunch (or one of the happy hours – next one on Monday, June 13) should email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com.
Hope to see you there!  :)
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January’s women-who-bike brunch

My third women-who-bike brunch was the biggest yet, with nearly 20 women gathering together on a freezing Sunday morning to enjoy each other’s company and $3 mimosas. I love these brunches for the opportunity to sit down and have great conversations with so many smart, fun women. Next we’ll expand to happy hours, in the spring we’ll start some group rides and from there we’ll take over the world.

What an awesome group! I tried to get everyone’s photo, but did not quite succeed. Here are some cool blogs that were represented: Ding Ding Let’s Ride, This Little Bike of Mine, Bike Fancy, Two Pitties in the City (cutest dogs ever), Po Campo, and Chicargo Bike. If I indadvertedly left anyone’s blog out, feel free to leave a comment to say hi and link to your stuffs. :)

As always, if you’re interested in attending our next brunch on the first Sunday of February, email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com.

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Out of My Way, Boys!

What follows is a glimpse at the mindset of a female bike commuter. I assume I’m not the only one who has these thoughts and impulses. :)

I am not a competitive person, more happy when everyone is a winner. As the weather warms and I see all the – mostly male – cyclists jockeying for position in the bike lanes, I feel a combination of amusement and annoyance. Opting out of the commute-as-race mentality is one reason I love riding my Dutch bike.

That said, sometimes my ego kicks in when I ride Betty Foy and I end up pushing myself a lil’ more than usual. There is a correlation between this phenomenon and listening to Lady Gaga on my iPod.*

I’m not delusional regarding the limits of my skillz and my petite steel mixte, but I can ride pretty fast. On my Betty Foy, I pass the majority of cyclists on the lakefront path, except for those serious guys and gals in jerseys, especially in the spring when most are emerging from hibernation. (On the streets I usually take it easier due to all the traffic.)

Anyone who rides at least 10 miles a day, every day, all year is bound to get pretty good at it.

Today was one of those ego days.

On the lakefront path this morning, I saw in my rear view mirror a lycra commuter gaining on me. I decided to kick it up a notch, thinking he would eventually pass, but at least I would show that I’m not such an easy mark. To my surprise, the distance between us grew and soon he was far behind.

On the streets this evening, I had to deal with guys all up in my space, trying to crowd me out at lights. You know what I’m talking about – riders stopping next to me and creeping ahead before the light turns green. This behavior pushes my competitive button for two reasons. First, crowding me at an intersection is unsafe when I’m trying to maintain my line between moving traffic and parked cars. Second, the stereotypical attitude – based solely on my gender and appearance – that I am an obstacle to be overtaken irks me. Not so fast, boys! Methinks you should get out of my way. Yeah, I’ve got a pink helmet, basket, skirt, heels. And…? Sure enough, I soon left those guys behind.

Most of the time I’m happy to let others expend energy on this kind of stuff while I la la lalala along, taking in the scenery, especially while riding my Oma.  But sometimes I can’t help asserting myself.  It’s kinda fun!  I even start daydreaming about racing on a Sweetpea Little Black Dress wearing lycra, but really I’m very risk averse.  Plus, those hardcore women would kick my ass ;)

{And now, random scenes from my Chicago day. Note the very special Dottie fuel: gourmet cupcakes!}


*When riding in the streets, I sometimes listen to music, only in my right ear and at a very low volume. I’ve assessed the risk and determined it safe for my situation. Plus, it does wonders for my sanity and general cheeriness.

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More Gender Gap Analysis from the Media

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

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.

Continue reading

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Safety and Security Concerns

I’ve mentioned before that I live a couple of blocks from Elizabeth, a blogger at BikeCommuters.Com. We met by chance last winter on our way home from work in the dark and freezing cold. I was waiting at a light and when it turned green I told her to go ahead because she would be faster than me. I managed to stay with her about half way home and we chatted a bit before she dropped me and Oma :)

Elizabeth and Me

Elizabeth and Me

We met up last night for a beer (or two) in our neighborhood, and she had just attended a focus group discussion on women’s safety and security issues with bicycling and walking. I wanted to participate, but had a scheduling conflict. Elizabeth gave me her discussion guide print out and I thought I’d post some of the questions here to see what you all think. The focus group was women-specific, but I’m interested in hearing from everyone.

How safe do you feel in your residential neighborhood? Is it a comfort level that allows you to bicycle and walk at any time of day of if you chose to?

What are some of the things that influence your decision to bicycle or not to bicycle?

What do you see as major safety and security concerns?

My thoughts: I feel very safe in my residential neighborhood. Chicago is a big city and I’m sure lots of people don’t cycle for fear of crime, but I’m privileged enough to live in a fairly affluent neighborhood on the north side. Still, I don’t walk alone after dark.  I feel much less vulnerable on my bike, so I will cycle alone after dark, but not later than midnight or so. I hate taking public transit alone at night – I don’t feel that the el trains have enough security. Overall, my major safety concerns deal a lot more with traffic (drunk drivers, dooring) than with crime.

How about you?

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More on Women and Cycling . . .

Picture 1Check out today’s BBC Woman’s Hour, which posits that women are actually more at risk on a bike than men (six out of seven cyclists killed in London by “heavy goods vehicles” this year were women), though no real reason or further figures on this were given. Training videos for truck drivers, safety devices like proximity sensors, and other ideas for improving cyclists’ safety are discussed. It’s nothing ground-breaking (I was disappointed that the discussion with four female commuters focused on, you guessed it, helmet hair), but at least women are speaking for themselves, even if it’s just for a minute or two. You can download here (right-click and “save target as”) or stream it live here.

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Women’s Voices

In Trisha’s Mind the Gender Gap post (which was featured on StreetsBlog) she discussed the shallow way that the media deals with women and cycling. In response, many real women left fantastic comments. I want to highlight their stories and viewpoints here with no filter. That’s something the media could learn – if you want to know more about women, simply ask them!

Melissa M. on her new oma

Melissa M. and her little guy on a new oma

Read on for the goods…

Continue reading

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