Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Heels, Skirts and Bicycles

More and more women are starting to get out on bicycles, creating a women's bike movement I'm proud to be a part of. As a result, we are seeing marketing and products geared towards the female rider, as well as an increased number of women bloggers. Each such woman offers a different perspective and insight on how to support and encourage women in their two-wheeled adventures. In a recent post by my new friend Melissa, of Bike Pretty, she responded to another female blogger's rather heated piece about how writers out there need to stop focusing on what women wear when they ride and empowering them to learn how to care for and repair their bikes, stating that this knowledge was more important in increasing female cycling numbers. In Melissa's rebuttal, she discusses how it is important to look at ALL possible characteristics of a female rider, noting most importantly that: 

"There is a point to demonstrating how easy it is to bike in heels. It’s a direct counter to all the ways that cycling is presented as a sporty inconvenience. If I can bike comfortably–in heels even–I’m sharing the message that riding a bike for transportation is an easy part of a fashion-conscious lifestyle."

I couldn't agree with Melissa more. Riding a bike does make you a card carrying member of the "Bike Mechanics Union", if there is one. Nor is it mandatory to know how to change a flat, grease a chain or replace brake pads. What riding a bike provides is so much bigger than that; it offers freedom, individuality and pure joy. Part of that freedom is that you can LITERALLY ride a bike wearing whatever you feel comfortable in on whatever bike makes you happy.

They may not be heels, but I certainly
love being able to bike in even my
fanciest flats (and look, they match my bike)!
It's no secret I dress in whatever I like when I ride. Many times that includes dresses, long skirts and most certainly heels, because that's what fills my closet. It truly is important to present the image that cycling is not a specialist sport and that anyone from 8 to 80 and beyond can do it. By riding in my every day clothing, I am showing that riding a bike is accessible to anyone. When my daughter wears her sundresses and sandals, she reminds the average person that riding a bike is something any child can do, and it doesn't require a huge expense to do it.

Beyond the topic of heels though, there's a bigger point. Sure, it's very handy to know how to fix a flat, and, conversely, to present images of average women riding a bike in their every day clothing. When it really comes down to it, though, we need to celebrate each and every female cyclist out there, regardless of their biking style or knowledge. With women being the key demographic that will indicate a greater acceptance of cycling around the world, by acknowledging that there are women of all ages, abilities, cultures, etcetera riding bikes, we will be appealing to a broader range of women. We are all individuals with different interests, and all that is accomplished by pressuring women to learn the intricate ins and outs of bicycle repair, or to purchase the "necessary gear" before they dream of sitting on the saddle and pedalling will only work to deter many women who just don't have the time or interest in all the fuss. All they want to do is get on a bike and start riding, and that should be supported and celebrated each and every time.

Here's a future rider exemplifying making riding
simple for women
Admittedly, yes, not only do I ride in heels and my Sunday best from time to time, but I also know how to perform general maintenance on my bike from time to time. I like to feel handy and use tools, but I also like handing my bike off to a professional to give my bike the TLC it needs. That does not make me less of a rider, just one who accepts my limitations and appreciates other people's expert knowledge. As I see more and more women on bikes, it indicates that there is a growing appeal. This means that what we are doing, all us women out there, is demonstrating that riding a bike can be easy, fun and safe, and that there is something out there for each and every female rider and her tastes. So let's continue this positive trend, supporting each and every lady rider out there, whether she rides in heels or runners, because both play an important role in creating a welcoming place for the women of today and those of tomorrow.


  1. You absolutely do not have to understand bike repair in order to ride. Are only mechanics allowed to drive? Should cobblers be the only ones allowed to walk?

    1. Here here! Thanks for the read and for so succinctly reinforcing the idea that anyone can ride. :)

  2. A bike suitable for everyday utility use will last decades outdoors with almost zero maintenance. Buy the right tyres/tubes and you'll hardly ever flat. And when you do, use a LBS. The idea that you need to know *anything* about bikes to ride one is nonsense. I know people on $4000 roadbikes who can't change a tyre, let alone a chain or anything complicated.