11 June 2011

Short Skirts on Bicycles Celebration in New York City

It all started with a simple tweet from New Amsterdam Bike Show's Twitter account on June 9th, 2011:

Our friend Jasmijn was stopped in SOHO by NYPD for riding in a skirt! The officer said she could distract drivers... http://fb.me/123fHxfKl

What may appear as a joke has proved to be yet another ridiculous incident involving uninformed police officers stopping cyclists for fictional infractions or to chastise them with self-invented rules. The YouTube wunderkind at the moment is this guy with this film. (Sigh... we remember when that film only had 300 views... :-) ) Then a mother got hassled in London, too.

It's the story about the New Yorker getting hassled by some schmuck cop for wearing a skirt and risking 'distracting drivers' that has really gotten Cycle Chic all hot and bothered.

Firstly, the number of women pedestrians wearing skirts in New York in the summer exceeds the number of skirts on bicycles. By a million or so. Give or take. So where are the cops going after pedestrians?
He Fancies Her
Like this shot we nabbed a few years back. Where's the squad car harrassing the New Yorker on the left? Where are the police going after the motorists instead of Ignoring the Bull in Society's China Shop?

Skirts and bicycles. Skirts on bicycles. This incident in New York is much more than one silly cop. This is about the roots of Cycle Chic. About the roots of Bicycle Culture.

The bicycle transformed human society more quickly and more effectively than any other invention in history. From the 1880's and onwards, it served to liberate the working classes and, equally importantly, it served to liberate women for the first time in modern human history.

The bicycle provided women with an amazing transport form. Giving them independent and freedom of movement. Sure, the bicycle spawned the invention of the bloomers - pants for women - but skirts and have rolled hand in hand for over 125 years.

That bored, uninformed cop in New York may have driven away feeling like he was justified in hassling the cyclist in question. But his action is a direct affront not only to the bicycle as transport, but to female cyclists everywhere. Whether they wear skirts or not. Back in the early days of the bicycle women were spit upon - by men - for having the nerve to ride a bicycle. Let's not return to that.

One of the most popular articles here at Cycle Chic over the past four years has been:

THE CYCLE CHIC GUIDE TO CYCLING IN SKIRTS AND DRESSES. We have highlighted countless times how the skirt and the bicycle are made for each other - just see the billion blogposts under the Cycling in Skirts and Dresses tag here on the blog.

So a New York cyclist getting shit from an NYPD cop is farcical and it is just plain wrong.

So we were pleased to read the twitter buzz about a potential protest ride in New York on the @bikepeacenyc twitter account. Hashtag: #shortskirtprotestride:

"Short Skirt Protest + Ride and Love the Broadway Bike Lane" this Thurs nite. Meet up Columbus Circle. Sass and class please

As far as we can make out, the Short Skirt Protest will take place this Thursday at 7:00 pm. Ride starts at 7:30 pm.

A sassy ride, sure. But it's an important ride. Enough schmuck cops making up their own rules. Enough attacking the bicycle as transport for Citizen Cyclists in our cities. Enough Taliban-esque moralising about what people should wear on bicycles.

If you're in New York on Thursday, show up. Wear a skirt. Or a kilt if you like. This is fun but this is important.

Skirts and Bicycles:
Surveying Her Kingdom
The golden Cycling Girl from 1933 surveying her bicycle kingdom above Copenhagen's City Hall Square. In a skirt.

Vintage Bicycle Posters: Dürkopp Vintage Bicycle Posters: The Crawford Vintage Bicycle Posters: Humber and Co Vintage Bicycle Posters: Grand Manège Central
Bicycle posters: 1900, 1895, 1895, 1894

Copenhagen - Gay Spot of Europe Denmark - The Country for your Holiday Denmark - Country of Smiles and Peace Danish Bicycle Culture Promotion 1995
Danish tourism posters: 1940's and Danish cycling campaign, 1990's

Canberra, Australia 1950 Rita Hayworth and Friends
Office workers in Canberra, Australia: 1950's and Rita Hayworth & friends: 1950's

Copenhagen Vintage Cycle Chic Copenhagen Bicycle Traffic in Rush Hour
Copenhagen rush hour: 1960's

Vintage Bicycle Posters: Raleigh
Bicycle poster: 1972

Lara Inc Switch Flops Cycle Chic (6)
Sydney, Australia: 2010

Montreal Cycle Chic 014
Montreal: Last week

Cartier-Bresson 1968
And Paris, 1968. By Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Let the revolution continue.


thatgirlinnewyork said...

bollocks. as an omafiets-pedaling lady in nyc, i wear a skirt every damned day. some days they're short, other days, they're shorter. no one's pulled me over for it, but in this new paradigm of harassing cyclists, nothing surprises me.

this is not unlike the kerfuffle over south williamsburg, brooklyn hasidic leaders getting the city to cut out bike lanes in their neighborhood, because they wanted to shield their residents from "immodesty":


twelvedaysold said...

Good for the riders that will be going out this Thursday!

Hopefully you'll be able to showcase some of the pictures taken that day on the blog as a follow up.

tog_girl said...

the idea of officials thinking that they have a right to tell someone what they should wear on a bike... seriously! shouldnt they start with some of the lycra clad boys! ;)

cewek said...

What a load of codswallop! I didn't realise NYC is run by the Taliban these days!! Gals cycle with your short skirts on with pride! Take back the streets!

Ken said...

That cop must be fired! He/she obviously has no work to do.

ATX Bikette said...

Ugh. When most of cycling population wears lycra, it can be hard for those who never ride to understand it can be done in regular clothes. I rode a bike in my swimsuit in Key West, and nobody said a damn thing, even though me and my friends were getting honked at every block.
And maybe they should ticket those guys who can't help but harass women on the street by honking instead of the women just trying to go about their daily business. That's an issue here in ATX where I just had to train myself to ignore them.

Anonymous said...

Off topic -
any idea what's the average ride to work in Copenhagen (other European cities)?

bird industries said...

Love it! I wish I could be in NYC for this. Let me know if we can provide any of you skirt-wearing beauties with skirt garters. birdindustries.etsy.com

Giulia said...

Uh oh. I just did a post on this & now I see some Twitter talk that it's a marketing scheme. I hope not.

evan said...

The cops here are enough to make me want to move - and don't get me started on the traffic. NYC is sucking but somehow I still can't bring myself to leave.

ibikelondon said...

It's the slutwalk of the cycling world!

Frits B said...

@Giulia: A marketing scheme would be counterproductive. If you're trying to sell highly recognizable bicycles, the last thing you want is antagonizing the police, for fear that vindictive traffic cops go out after your customers.

SD said...

Why are authorities wasting their time prosecuting bikers?? This has been taken too far as this is not the first article I have read similar to this in the past week. Bikers are being punished for breaking the law, when really they are the ones doing us a favor by choosing to commute in an eco-friendly way. They should be rewarded, not punished!

Philippe said...

It smelled fishy, and it was :
Anyone interested in a bridge ? I can sell you one...

Ingersoll Watches said...

I won't even dare to wear bikini while taking a ride on my bicycle trough the city - but I would wear a skirt. The girl in the first photo is really sexy :)