Why I Blog About Women and Bicycles

UPDATED: Some people see this blog and ask, Why?

Good question! The answer is, because more women should ride bicycles.
I’m not sure why or how cycling got to be a male ‘thing’, but I first really noticed the sharp contrast in large group rides such as the Midnight Mystery Ride. It seemed that only a third or even a quarter of the participants were women– and that struck me as kind of weird.

From Oli Scarff/ Getty Images via Slate.com

Think I’m being paranoid or that maybe these were isolated incidents specific to Portland? Actually, no. Read this recent article about gender gaps in biking that says on average in the U.S. only 1/3 of cyclists are women. This Scientific American study from 2009 about getting more people on bikes suggested that men outnumbered women only 2:1 as far as ridership– although a survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation that year reported that 76% of all trips by bicycle were taken by men. (Check out a goldmine of statistics at PeopleForBikes.org.)

Pink skirt is me, one of only 3 women on this ride. (Some riders are out of frame.)

Don’t be intimidated! One thing is clear here, and that is that men really like riding bicycles. So if you’re looking to meet fun & fit single men, group rides could be a good way to do that! And I already wrote about how putting my long-distance boyfriend on a bicycle was part of what got him to move to Portland. Now we ride bicycles on ‘date nights’. :):):)

Rick & his bike The Safety Cone
Boyfriend snagged thanks in part to riding bicycles

Through sharing my experiences and those of friends and the community, I hope to show fabulous women everywhere that riding bicycles is both possible and worthwhile.

More like it! (Although I think we were still the only women and outnumbered 3:1)
That pastel bike is Gem, I still have her.

In this blog, I aim to address the main things keeping women off of bicycles:

  • Concerns about clothes.

Catherine Baba knows all about riding in designer dresses and heels. #Favorite

Such concerns might give pause but certainly have not stopped a dedicated lady cyclist. True, there is an art to dressing the part and remaining comfortable and fabulous on the daily– ask Francesca Patricolo, who wrote bicycles and fashion as our first guest poster.

  • Concerns about fitness level.

This is something that for whatever reason seems to keep people from bicycling or really starting any kind of exercise at all, and it’s hugely ironic if you ask me. Why:

    • If you start exercising consistently, you will inevitably get more fit.
    • Cycling is fun no matter what your current fitness level is.
    • Whining about something you can easily change as an excuse to not try new things is lame.
Not to worry if you need help getting past hurdles, though– this blog will be full of plenty of motivation for riding your bicycle.

    Headed out for a cruise then jog to start getting back into shape for Spring.
  • Concerns about chores.

Women often cite chores such as grocery shopping and picking up the kids from soccer as reasons for not riding a bicycle more, the Slate.com research finds.

  • Concerns about hassle.

  • Concerns about discrimination.

  • Concerns about comfort.

We’ll get to this one a lot.

  • Concerns about safety.

Safety is a legit concern. Bicycles are vehicles that ride in the streets, and cyclists can be hurt, injured, or killed if not vigilant. Cycling is not more dangerous than driving a car, however: Odds of death in a car accident are 1:272 by General Health calculation, yet just 1:4,147 for death by bicycle– and those were in 2009 terms, when there were more cycle accidents and fewer motor accidents than reported in 2013 and 2014.

Cycling smart doesn’t need to require a ton of expensive gear, either. It requires basic safety measures, following the rules of the road, and paying attention. Read here for a fabulous girl’s list of cycling necessities. There will definitely be more posts on staying safe.

UPDATE MAY 13: Just this week here in Portland, a cyclist was struck in a dangerous intersection and lost his leg, sparking a large protest at the dangerous intersection and a follow-up protest scheduled for today. These concerns are real, and highlight that cyclists need to be hyper-vigilant.

Just to note, I’ve been riding a bicycle regularly since grade school, and I have never been in an accident with a vehicle or seriously injured in a bicycle accident in any way. Minor injuries are common, and truthfully, at some point you will fall and your clothes will probably become a casualty. Yet this article in Discovery News reports that in 23 million bike shares in 36 cities, there have been ZERO fatalities. I don’t wish to undercut the importance of safety as a priority concern, but I also don’t want anyone deterred because of the myth that riding a bicycle in the city is unsafe.

I love cycling and spend a lot of time around bicycles!

A pedicab in México DF.

Last week I wrote a sort of rambling late-night Memory Bike Lane post with some old photos I dug up. It’s probably the least coherent of all posts, but I wanted to address the fact that riding a bicycle has been an important part of my life and that it’s something I care about a lot. That’s the other reason why I blog.

Plans for the Future

School is almost out for me, and I plan to do a lot more riding and reporting for the blog, addressing the chief concerns of women. Since Summer is coming, a local calendar of bicycle events for fabulous ladies in the works, and I also plan to create resource pages for buying your own new or used bicycle, finding the right accessories, staying safe, and so forth. Very exciting.
I also would like to get more guest posts out, so stretch out your typing fingers, ladies and gents!

Happy Trails!


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