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?
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:
The golden Cycling Girl from 1933 surveying her bicycle kingdom above Copenhagen's City Hall Square. In a skirt.
Bicycle posters: 1900, 1895, 1895, 1894
Danish tourism posters: 1940's and Danish cycling campaign, 1990's
Office workers in Canberra, Australia: 1950's and Rita Hayworth & friends: 1950's
Copenhagen rush hour: 1960's
Bicycle poster: 1972
Sydney, Australia: 2010
Montreal: Last week
And Paris, 1968. By Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Let the revolution continue.