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» Is There Such a Thing as a 'Feminine' Way to Ride a Bike?

excerpts from an ongoing discussion of the intersection of femininity and cycling. more at: atlanticcities, 16.04.14.

"I don’t find labels very interesting or useful so I don’t tend to think about things through that type of lens. For me, feeling ‘feminine’ means being completely myself. Sometimes that’s in a dress with my hair flowing in the breeze, and sometimes it’s when I’m riding up a hill on my single speed in a sweaty, torn tank top. It’s both when I ride aggressively and when I ride relaxed. It can be when I return a smile at an admirer or when I scowl at catcalls. I feel the least “feminine” when I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. Thankfully, that’s rare — especially when riding a bike since it’s such a feeling of freedom. In fact, the first thing that popped in my head when I read your post was ‘freedom’.”
–April Eileen Economides 


"#replacebikewithwalk If we were to change bike to walk in this title: "Is there such a thing as a feminine way to walk", the discussion would be focused on the actual act of walking, not what the women were wearing when they walk. And still, when it comes to bicycling, the act of wearing something other than the unisex bicycle uniform of either lycra or t-shirts and jeans or equivalent is somehow worthy of such discussion.

I wear a dress and heels to ride my bike to work because that’s what I wore to work when I drove. Somewhere along the way I got smart enough to realize that if I rode slowly I didn’t have to change clothes on arrival or change my style and wear a bike uniform that didn’t suit my professional dress style.

As I said in my blog post [31.07.12], I look forward to the day when we don’t have to critique what people (especially women) wear when they ride a bike. It’s silly and divisive.”
Lady Fleur

I read through many, though not all, of the comments on Elly Blue’s post on this subject. Jesus…Not quite sure why bicyclists are so damned opinionated (and quick to suffer offense), but my theory is that we’re all a bit prickly because we know we’re 2nd class citizens in America, and we suffer pangs of envy when MCA (copenhagen cycle chic) posts pix of beautiful people (face it, many urban Europeans look absolutely smashing compared to most Americans) on his website riding safely in settings most of us can hardly imagine. So, we wear our battle dress (helmets, neon Lycra, etc.), misunderstood, expecting the worst, and, well, that would make almost anyone feel like Mr. Crankypants, eh?

Add to that a healthy dollop of feminist/gender critique, the immediacy of the internet, and whoom! Up goes the smoke and out come the CAPS LOCK.

comment by Stephan on Lady Fleur’s blog post

those are comments I picked out because they’re ones I agree/relate with most.

  • I support cycle chic—riding bikes should be normal—don’t have to get “gear”, can just bike wearing clothes you normally wear. 
  • but you often won’t see me dressed fashionably when I’m on my bike. main reason is just that my default everyday outfit is: jeans, t-shirt, hoodie (totally don’t-care-college-student-california look, i guess), and because i don’t like girly things aside from painting my nails.
  • when i first started cycling, it was a short 5-minute ride from hillcrest in san diego to the ucsd hillcrest medical center (for the shuttle to ucsd campus). i didn’t change what i wore. short bike ride, but my body doesn’t like heat much and i always wound up quite sweaty. plus, crotch blow-out. or holes in jeans. had to get jeans patched.
  • so i got tired of that. also moved and had to bike farther distances (4-5miles). started wearing jeanshorts over leggings, and a sports-bra-tank-top, and chrome wool jacket if cold. i bring a t-shirt and bra to change into before entering the classroom (but still sweating because i rarely leave home early enough to give myself enough time to cool down outside.)
  • basically, i just wear whatever’s most comfortable for my needs. if i had a five-minute bike-commute again, i’d probably wear more “regular” clothes. also, i just like to bike fast and consider my commute the only exercise i really get.
  • if i had some special occasion to dress up for, i’d go more “cycle chic”. like if someone were to take me out to a fancy dinner or event..

also: important distinction—cycle chic vs bike porn.

» Caltrans Endorses the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide

Before, bicycle infrastructure throughout California has been dictated by the car-focused agency Caltrans because local engineers rely on Caltrans-approved designs to protect local municipalities from lawsuits. As a result, city planners were often hesitant, or flat out refused, to build innovative treatments like protected bike lanes that don’t appear in Caltrans Highway Design Manual.


“It’s a permission slip for cities, for engineers and planners, to do the good, well-vetted, proven work that we know we can do to make our street safer,” said Ed Reiskin, president of NACTO and director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. “It’s only a first step — ultimately, we’d like to see the changes in the Highway Design Manual to see it actually integrated into Caltrans documents. But this is a huge step forward, and great leadership from Malcolm, Secretary [Brian] Kelly, and Governor [Jerry] Brown,” who commissioned a report that recommended Caltrans adopt the NACTO guide.

The guide includes design standards for infrastructure including bike boxes, physically protected bike lanes, contra-flow bus lanes, and even parklets. Although these improvements have been implemented in cities in California and the world, they have been considered “experimental” until now. The NACTO guide has only been endorsed by two other states, Washington and Massachusetts.

“Endorsing NACTO basically says this manual can be used alongside the Highway Design Manual and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices as an appropriate reference when you’re looking at possibilities for new street designs,” said Dougherty.

read more: streetsblog, 11.04.14.
NACTO urban street design guide.

» The Simple Power of the Bicycle

another article summarizing transportation x urbanization x climate change x advocacy x urban planning.

Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, fine particulate matter alone, much of which comes from transportation related emissions, is responsible for up to 30,000 premature deaths each year. Yet transportation is one of the areas that we, as individuals, have the most ability to control. A whopping 60% of carbon emissions generated by transportation in this country originates from cars and light trucks (the remainder mainly from heavy-duty vehicles & airplanes). The average person who bikes five miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving a year – the equivalent of 100 gallons of gasoline saved and 2,000 pound of CO2 emissions avoided. This equates to saving 5% of the average American’s carbon footprint. This means that regular people like you and me have the greatest potential to turn this problem around.

Simply put, too many people are burning too much fuel in single-occupancy vehicles. Fortunately, a surprisingly straightforward, inexpensive, and low-tech solution to this problem is right under our noses or, more likely, stored in our garages..

Americans are no different than our friends in northern Europe when it comes to making basic lifestyle choices. How we decide to get to work, bring our kids to school, or move around for errands or recreation is largely based on what’s most convenient and expedient for us personally, not some grand environmental motivation. If it’s easier and faster to drive, we usually do. If transit is most convenient, we take the bus. If biking proves speediest and most enjoyable, then we’ll pedal.

Unfortunately for our environment (as well as our pocketbooks and general health), American communities have largely been built to prioritize automobiles, making it a challenge to see bicycling, transit, or walking trips as the most attractive options in many places.

This is where the work of bicycle advocates can be most effective. Our focus is on improving the policies, plans, and investments needed to make communities bicycle-friendly so that more people have the option of biking for more of their trips.”

by Leah Shahum, sfbike.
read more: stanfordenergyclub, 07.04.14.

» Bike share program looking to expand to East Bay in 2015

Under the program an MTC committee will consider on Wednesday, Bay Area Bike Share would install 60 bike stations in an 8 1/2-square-mile area of the East Bay and stock them with about 750 bikes — 450 in Oakland, 300 in Berkeley and an undecided number in Emeryville. Locations for the bike stations are yet to be determined.

Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville were chosen for the next expansion because of the area’s population density, its numerous transit lines and stations, and the presence of colleges and universities, said Randy Rentschler, a commission spokesman.

"The East Bay has some notable advantages," he said. "It’s relatively flat, has lots of public transit and destinations like universities, and lots of bike lanes. It has a whole lot of things that can make a bike share program a big success."

sfgate, 07.04.14.

first time actually having lunch out on the park blocks. 
man, portland’s so european.  not only is there easy, direct public transit from the airport to downtown, but there’s a median/boulevard park as well.
not sure why you would 700c a heavy vintage citybike, but i guess if you wanted the white rims that badly…
complete bike on sale for $150 in LA/SD area.the rear wheel is flip-flop, so you could even ride it fixed!
In their headlong search for modernity through mobility, American urbanites made a decision to destroy the living environments of nineteenth-century neighborhoods by converting their gathering places into traffic jams, their playgrounds into motorways, and their shopping places into elongated parking lots. These paving decisions effectively made obsolete many of urban America’s older neighborhoods.
— Mcshane, C. (1979). Transforming the Use of Urban Space – A Look at the Revolution in Street Pavements, 1880-1924. Journal of Urban History, 5(3), 279-307. (p.300)
Why are there so little black people in Portland?

Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000
by Karen Gibson, PSU, 2007. [PDF]

my summary of the 20pg academic article:

  • Oregon was a Klan state. very prejudiced, white.
  • WWII got black people out to Portland to work at shipyards (also SF, Oakland, LA, San Diego).
  • after the war, Portland didn’t build housing or create other jobs for blacks, so they were pretty much stranded.
  • the wartime temporary housing got flooded, so blacks moved/crowded into the Albina district (North Portland)
  • there was a time when middle-class blacks could afford home ownership, but it wasn’t legal
  • bankers/realtors/discriminatory lending practices prevented blacks from owning homes, or getting loans to rehabilitate their homes. scam loaning companies also swindled lots of people. (ex. families thought they bought the house, then later they wanted to sell it and move, only to find out the contract never gave them ownership)
  • redlining didn’t allow blacks to move elsewhere. white flight.
  • construction of the Emanuel Hospital, the Memorial Stadium, and the freeways destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced residents. worse: plans to construct a VA hospital, razed a lot of homes, but federal funding dried up and it was never constructed. all that was left was vacant lands and unfulfilled promise of jobs.
  • crack epidemic (LA gangs came up to sell at higher prices) and bad economy. housing in worse condition. last part of the “devalorization” cycle.
  • media (Oregonian) did a series on the predatory lending practices in Albina. state attorney general investigated the scam loan companies. 
  • the City of Portland moved ownership of the vacant properties to nonprofits. the PDC (portland development commission) was really nice to white people and gave them loans and grants to move in. but the younger white people didn’t have a good attitude; they didn’t want to become a part of the existing residents.
  • realtors marketed Alberta Street, a black business corridor, as the “Alberta Arts District”. white businesses replace black businesses. gentrification.


also: Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? portlandoccupier, 28.11.12.

Gentrification transforming face of Oakland.
"The housing market conditions are completely out of control, with no real accountability to the people who are being displaced," said Robbie Clark of Causa Justa. “These stark rent increases, people being forced to move far away and commute longer — these are not signs of healthy communities.
The Causa Justa report emphasized that government and the public need to do more to keep low-income people in their homes so they can enjoy the benefits of gentrification without being displaced. Stricter rent control and anti-foreclosure laws, more affordable housing and greater public input in planning decisions would help, the report said.
"It’s true, I’m beginning to see white people in (deep East Oakland). … The only reason it hasn’t happened sooner is because we have six shootings a day around here," she said. "The question is not whether this change is good or bad. It’s how do we find a balance, and how do we start the conversation?”
read more:  sfgate, 09.04.14.
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