Monday, October 12, 2009

How To Get More Skirts On More Bicycle Seats

Of course, I can't speak for all women, but since the subject is being bandied about the bicycling blogosphere, I figured I'd add my feminine two cents. Women probably have a good idea of the type of bike that would lend itself to commuting and they more than likely realize that they don't need special clothes to ride in since a lot of the bikes they're seeing are in clothing stores (or the store's website or catalog). So now that it's simple enough for a girl to find a bike, what else does she need to hit the streets?
  • Information. Knowledge is power. Classes will help with confidence when one is timid about mixing it up with cars on the streets. Bike maps enable a woman to avoid particularly snarled streets when she's carrying precious cargo, like the kiddies, or when she wants a less hectic commute. Who doesn't want that? I cite G-maps Pedometer as a "chic enabler," but this article cites three articles with a lot more information on bike mapping and links. You can also think locally and try your neighborhood civic association's website. The East Atlanta Community Association is a good example--they give bike routes in text form to popular Atlanta destinations from EAV.

  • Infrastructure. I'd like to see a lot more political will behind cycle commuting before even touching the what-should-be-built-where question. Heck, I'd just like to know that the money is there.

  • Super cheap car insurance. I mean the kind that garners a girl big savings for driving no more than a certain amount of miles. Driving a car less often should lead to the cost effective trifecta of less wear/maintenance/repair, lower fuel costs, and lower insurance costs. A few American companies offer this type of pay-as-you-drive insurance.

  • Accessories. Women need to know that there are myriad ways to transport goods by bike that don't require them to schlep anything on their backs or shoulders making them arrive sore or funky at their destination. They also need to know about all the different cargo bikes, seats, and trailers that enable one to transport kids by bike safely.

  • Facilities. Staying fresh shouldn't be a problem when one has the proper basket, panniers, trailer, etc. to transport items or little people while riding slowly. However, some of us do live in some pretty warm and sultry climates so there are certainly a lot of women who deserve the extra security of having a place to clean up at work. At the very least, gyms across the country should be offering their facilities to cyclists at special rates, like this. It's just good business.


anna said...

Sounds all right to me, and also easy to achieve. However, the most important thing is that women get involved themselves. I can't speak about every country, but in Austria most of the traffic planning (and marketing, if existent) is done by men. And that explains also why women's needs are not always heard. There certainly must be more gender mainstreaming in traffic planning. I wrote about it once, but only on a very basic level: women and transport.

Charlotte said...

LOVE the image!

Jett said...

Your post is well-timed. Our 3rd Friday Commute (event on Facebook) plans to discuss "more skirts on bikes" this coming Friday.

I've linked this post to the "Bicycle Commuters of Atlanta" group that sponsors the monthly social commute. Your post will help keep the buzz going.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

Anna: Government agencies across the board could use some gender mainstreaming. It's so odd that these politician/political appointees who are usually married with children don't seem to have a clue or concern about what women/mothers need. Does it really take a woman in the room, breathing down their necks presumably, to get action on issues like food safety or more livable communities or pay equity? Jeez!

Charlotte: Thanks!

Jett: I'm glad I was able to do my part in keeping women and cycling in the conversation.

mappchik said...

Excellent post. I think you covered it quite well, so will just add emphasis to one word.


Sections of bike lane in busy areas would make a world of difference. Riding side streets to get near a destination isn't a problem. That last 1/4-1/2 mile of main road between side street and retail/office is bad enough to change many folks perception of the whole utility cycling idea as being too dangerous.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

Mappchik: It's uncanny that you said,

"That last 1/4-1/2 mile of main road between side street and retail/office is bad enough to change many folks perception of the whole utility cycling idea as being too dangerous."

That describes a bike path that begins near the East Lake MARTA station (I think) and ends near Agnes Scott College in Decatur. A crosswalk connects the path to a gated entrance on campus, but I don't recall seeing a crosswalk that connects to the antique store just yards away. There are no bike lanes to help you get to the Italian restaurant just yards away from the shop or guide you through a left turn to get into Decatur Village where numerous shops, eateries, and the huge Dekalb County Public Library are located. The traffic situation is really sketchy off-path, but the path merely loops back on itself at Agnes Scott.

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