We might as well get it over with. It's high time to tackle it. Answering that question of questions about our cycling culture. Here's the Cycle Chic Guide to Bicycle Commuting #3:
How do you ride a bicycle in a skirt?!
I think we've been putting it off for so long because it really is a strange question to ask Copenhagen women. In a way, it's like asking a peroxide blonde, Texan, trailer-trash mamma "How can you shoot a gun in that NRA t-shirt?!"
"Y'all just do it, bubba. Now git off my lawn."
Being a male of the species - and not a Scottish or Fijian one at that - I don't consider myself an expert on the subject. In order to answer the question I figured I'd ask the experts. The cycling women of Copenhagen. Every one of them has tried it at some point. But as there are roughly 250,000 of them each day on our bike lanes, I figured we'd narrow it down.
So... I asked a few of Cycle Chic's favourite Danish fashion bloggers. Cycling Copenhagen women with their style on fire and their bicycle basket filled with shopping bags.
First up, Susanne from Modlerstyle. Designer and stylist, too.
Wifealiciousness... in a dress... on a bicycle.
"How do I cycle in a skirt?! I just cycle... in a skirt! If it's a long, loose dress, it's obviously easy. If it's a tight skirt, I just pull it up a bit and cycle with my knees a bit closer together - one is, after all, feminine. I'll get to where I'm going either way."
Um... okay. That seems pretty straightforward. Already I'm feeling silly for asking the question.
So what does the always charming Marie, from Marienade have to say? Surely there is more to it that all that?
"I live dangerously - so I put on a dress. Mount my bicycle. Start pedalling. And let the wind decide if my knickers will be introduced to the world."
Uh... that was pretty simple. Casual. Just as straightforward. Which is how I suspect the whole art of riding a bicycle in a skirt or dress is. Brilliant! Thanks, Marie.
Devil may care, but why should you?
Let's see what Mr & Mrs Cycle Chic's favourite fashion blogger has to say. Bloggerella will surely provide us with some insight.
"How to ride a bike in a skirt? First things first - you need to be wearing a skirt. So step away from the spandex. Put on a skirt and preferably a pair of heels and hop on your bike heading for work.
There are, however, some pitfalls to be avoided. If like me, you're not into excessive thigh flashing, keep in mind that short and tight skirts tend to ride a bit up while pedalling along. And a usually decent wrap-around skirt can, with one little puff of wind, burst the thigh-flash-o-meter.
That being said you can take all the precautions and still be revealed by a single gust. In that case do a little damage control and hold on to the skirt Marilyn Monroe style."
Okay. Maybe now we're getting somewhere. And when Bloggerella refers to Marilyn Monroe style, here's what she means:
The fine art of casually placing a hand in your lap while riding. It makes you appear frightfully cool and it serves a anti-wind gust function.
Let's hear from the eternally cool Acie at Agurkeliv.
Acie from Agurkeliv on her bicycle.
"Loving short skirts... and cycling, too. I was 4½. It was summer. It was yellow - my new bike. My new bike without training wheels. It was love.
The kind of love that I would later develop for short skirts, dresses and high heels too. However, the love for my bike never faded - as time passed and I got older it changed in size, color and style. But I always loved it. The same goes for my skirts and dresses – they changed in size (...dammit!), colour and style (some would say that they just got shorter and shorter...). But I always loved them too.
Cycling in short skirts is sort of like walking in high heels. To those who are not used to it, it’s scary, a little strange and considered unnecessary. To those who do it every day, it’s nothing.
When I ride around Copenhagen in skirts I always I always have one hand free to ensure that the skirt doesn’t move too far north. Constantly pulling the skirt down is, however, not necessary. The hand is a safety option. Insurance. Like having a pair of back-up flats in your purse.
In most cases the skirt will stay where it’s intended, if you make sure to ride with your knees pointing slightly inwards. And as is also the case with walking in high heels it’s a matter of practice. It’s about daring to try!"
Thanks, Acie! So, another great bit of advice from yet another Copenhagener who knows what she's talking about. She mentioned the 'hand in the lap' move and the 'knees in' tip, too.
Get your knees in, Mother Brown.
Last but certainly not least, let's give the podium to Kia from the splendidly named Fierce og Fattig på SU! blog. That translates as Fierce and Broke on Student Subsidies!
"Cycling in a skirt in Copenhagen is rumoured to be a challenge. I cycle often around Copenhagen in skirts and dresses and my mantra is simply "Just do it." If you're 'unlucky' you can comfort yourself by thinking that you probably made a lot of men's day. It comforts me when a gust of wind suddenly causes more men to find me extremely interesting.!
Thanks, so much Kia! We appreciate your point of view [and are secretly thankful for living in one of the windiest cities on earth...]
So there you have it. Seems all quite simple, really. Of course, at the end of the day, this post is a bit superfluous. About 8 and a half minutes after the Safety bicycle was invented about 120 years ago, there was a woman riding it in a skirt. And then another one. And so on.
History repeats itself or history never stopped doing it?
Which begs the eternal Cycle Chic question... if it's normal and has been normal for over a century, why are people out there trying to sell you "cycling clothes" and all sorts of crap you don't need?
THE CARGO BIKE ADVANTAGE
Anyway, here's a unique Copenhagen angle to the Cycling in Skirts and Dresses question. The advantages of cycling on a cargo bike are many, and Copenhageners, if anyone, have discovered that. There are about 30,000 cargo bikes in the city. Demographically, it is mostly families who have one. But the cargo bike provides the Supermums of Copenhagen with an added feature. If you're wearing a short skirt, you are conveninently placed behind the cargo bay, which is handy if you're the type who worries about wind gusts et al.
Cargo bike protection.
As you all may have noticed I have quite a few photos of people cycling in Copenhagen. For this post I went through my Cycle Chic set on Flickr to look for illustrative photos of Copenhageners cycling in skirts. I found... um... over 250. Including photos from Paris, Japan and other countries. I probably missed some but I wasn't really concentrating. Nevertheless, I put them in an independent set. You can see it in a slideshow right here. Make a cup of coffee, lean back and be inspired. Photos tell the story.
If you're pressed for time, I narrowed the 250 down to a Director's Cut of my favourites. 42 in all, also viewable in convenient slideshow format for your viewing pleasure.
And ladies, let's hear from you about riding in skirts or dresses!