Posted on August 01, 2017
Once upon a time, bicycling was only for fanatics who would wear nothing but Lycra and complex head covers. Now, however, more people are using their bicycles, preferring them over cars, particularly in terms of city driving. Interestingly, the real passion and drive behind this new trend comes from how women are leading urban cycling!
Cycling in urban areas is now safe and highly accessible. Cities all over the country are engaging in civic improvement, bicycles have been improved to be more stylish and there is a range of beautiful cycling gear out there, including dresses. Unsurprisingly, women have jumped at the opportunity to show the rest of the country how it is done. And, in typical power to the women style, governments are taking note and are further redefining urban culture.
Cycling advocates have been successfully lobbying city officials all over the country. As a result, streets are more livable and public spaces are more inviting and safer for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Cities have been increasing this accessibility in a staggered way and it has proven to be successful already. Between 2000 and 2007, for instance, there was a 203% increase in commuting by bicycle in Chicago. Philadelphia saw a 104% increase between 2005 and 2008, while San Francisco witnessed a 53% increase since 2006.
A number of mayors have become true advocates for this movement as well. Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City's Transportation Commissioner, pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has already completed a range of infrastructure projects specific for bikes. These include doubling the number of miles of bicycle lanes and an addition of 6,000 bike racks across the city. The mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, personally painted bike lanes for a new citywide program's inauguration. And Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, launched B-cycle, which is a program that allows for bike sharing. And those are just a few of the examples out there.
Another reason why cycling is becoming more popular among women is safety. Looking at New York City, there has been an increase of 66% in bicycle usage between 2007 and 2009. This means that this particular method of traveling is becoming safer, particularly if they are in greater groups and are therefore more visible to motorists.
What women truly are leading on, however, is a change in culture and style. Women cyclists do not wear the strange Lycra outfits and huge aerodynamic hats. Rather, they look for stylish gear and appropriate clothing, including dresses and coats. It is also known that they tend to wear brightly colored items, which means they are more visible to others on the road. Interestingly, there are now entire sections in such papers as The Sartorialist and The New York Times that focus specifically on female cycling dress-sense.
Women wear all types of attire on their bikes, from professional to casual. They also wear all types of shoes. Added to this is that the feminist movement is still growing strong and that women are playing an increasingly visible role socially, economically and politically and it becomes clear why they are the true ambassadors for cycling.
Our country has to adjust to the fact that women are leading the way. Cycling had been for a long time a male dominated sports and those who did commute on bicycles were also predominantly male. To this day, 80% of professional cyclists are still male. However, commuter cycling and cycling for fun is being taken over by women. There are now special frames and pedals that allow women in skirts and high heels to comfortably ride their bikes.
Finally, the trend is believed to be because of personal health. The only other sports that is growing as quickly in this country as cycling is yoga. Both of these activities help to lower stress levels and make people feel better overall. Additionally, it is easy and cheap to make these activities part of your daily life. Women also prefer to be stylish, rather than to be fast, which also plays an important role.
Looking across the pond, we realize that our country is actually lagging behind. In Europe, women have been riding bicycles for decades in the knowledge that they are safe. Cities all over the continent have invested heavily in making cyclists' infrastructure better. What women in Europe wanted - and got - was the same as what women in this country want and, hopefully, will soon get. It is known that a small effort in improved infrastructure makes female bike usage soar, well above male bike usage.
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