Monday, 20 June 2011

What to wear... cycling?

New bike-pedestrian route in South Winnipeg
I live in blue jean and tee-shirt country.  However, I have to say that I have noticed some pretty stylish people riding their bikes to work in the morning.

Bike to Work Day 2011 is approaching.  I have to commend the city for promoting cycling as a form of everyday travel. Winnipeg has not been the most bicycle friendly city I have encountered. But I have to admit that the city has embraced this mode of transportation in the past year.

The new bike and pedestrian routes are a welcome addition to the city.  It gives the cyclists a sense of safety that one does not have when riding on the road next to drivers that don't seem to want to share the public space. There are a lot of those kind of drivers in this city.

Life as a cyclist in Toronto seemed a lot safer. Those carefree rides wearing floral Fashion Crime skirts down Queen Street.

So needless to say, I welcome the new bike and pedestrian routes.

But since I am talking about it, aren't they beautiful? And I do admit that riding to my weekly trip to the bakery I do feel a great deal safer.

So, will I be riding my bike to work on Friday?  No. I wish I could be one of those stylish peeps cycling to work. Sadly, there is no safe place that I can confidently lock up my bike.  It doesn't stop me from cycling in my off-work life though.  So what to wear?

I love looking at old bicycling photographs from the turn-of-the-century. The couple on their four-wheeler didn't let cycling stop them from being stylish. And I love that they are wearing hats!

In this 1896 illustration the "winter bicycle girl" sports a fashionable attire including some well-heeled footwear. Why is it that cycling in heels seems to be something exotic or out of the ordinary? Women have been doing it for over a century!

Were they on to something?  

Safety-wise I think they might have been.

Blog writer Constance Winters of Lovely Bicycle! asked readers what they thought about the Mary Poppins Effect.  Yes that Mary Poppins, the character popularized in a series of children's books by Australian born novelist P. L. Travers.

Well, the theory goes that "only a monster" would hurt Mary Poppins and that it explains the different cycling experiences women would have based on her outfit.

Burda Style 7489

Basically, the belief goes women riding their bikes in a dress or skirt are treated nicer by motorists on the road.  Do I think that it is far fetched?  Absolutely not. I've noticed it during my years of cycling.

I might be more comfortable wearing a pair of shorts and my Burda Style tunic but I have always felt safer in a dress.

That works for me since I love wearing dresses and skirts.  But what about men, do they also experience a change in attitude from drivers on the road if they wearing a suit of business attire?  Hmm, I wonder.

What do you think?

Do you believe in the Mary Poppins effect?

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