Guest Post: Valerie Schafer Franklin, OnMogul.com
Are you on the fence about bike commuting? We need more women to commute by bike, and more importantly, we need more women to feel safe commuting by bike.
Here are top 5 reasons why women can seriously consider bicycle commuting, with resources and links. The time has never been better to get back on the (bicycle) saddle!
SAFETY IS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER
1. While not perfect, it's never been safer to ride a bike in most US cities. Bicycle infrastructure is on the rise like dedicated bike lanes and bike routes, "bike-shares" like NYC's CitiBike are popping up in most major cities, bike awareness is growing, and there are more and more clever solutions for bicycle visibility and safety than ever before, from lighting solutions for night visibility to clever helmets with turn-signals. Google Maps now provides decent cycling directions in most cities, there are dedicated bike route apps like MapMyRide and BikeMaps.net, and large US cities publish city-specific bicycle route maps. Your best bet for getting started? Cycle where you see other women cycle, and on dedicated bike routes.
FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE COMFORTABLY
2. There have never been more tools, products, or infrastructure to help you with the logistics of your commute, even with kids in tow. Bicycle storage lockers, condos and office towers with dedicated bike parking, and even bicycle valet services are on the rise in all major cities as bicycle commuting grows. Innovative bicycle u-lock solutions, nifty bicycle handles (that we make!) to help you carry your bike, and classy, wear-to-work, women-specific work-to-bike clothing, are just a few of the new and creative solutions being invented every day (search for "bicycle" on Kickstarter, you'll be amazed what you'll find!)
Check out our Top Gifts for Women Cyclists for a curated list of handcrafted, American-made bicycle accessories that women bicyclists of all kinds will be sure to appreciate: urban commuters, adventurous mountain bikers, and long distance cyclists alike!
BIKES HAVE STYLE
3. Fashion and cultural acceptance for the bicycle have transformed the image of the cyclist from a sweaty male spandex geek to a rainbow of riders. Woman bicycle cartoonist Bikeyface, the rise of high-fashion bicycles specially designed by the likes of Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, and Pharrell Williams, the growing number of celebrities spotted riding bikes (George Clooney!), and even the growing use of cycling as an office team-building exercise, have all changed the face of cycling from one of solitary athleticism to one of for the everyday socialite.
A NETWORK OF SUPPORT
4. Social support for women cycling has grown by leaps and bounds as women get organized. The invention of the bicycle played a key role in the women's suffrage movement of the 1890's, bringing women the independence to travel where they willed. Now you can ride in women's bicycle clubs, join a women's bicycling discussion group online, take women-only bicycle tours, and enjoy women-owned bike shops catering specifically to women riders in key cities around the country.
EXERCISE - OR NOT!
5. The evolution of bicycle design has never made beginning cycling easier, even if it has been years since you last rode. Electric bikes (self-propelled), electric-assist bikes (assisting your propulsion), and bikes designed to be comfortable and beautiful while allowing upright posture, are expanding the reach of cycling beyond gifted athletes. Recumbent bicycles are there for riders with back problems, and modern trikes are there for riders with balance problems. And with the Danish paving the way, there are more options than ever before for cycling with kids. Yes, bicycling can be great exercise, but you don't have to get sweaty if you don't want to!
BONUS: MECHANICS NOT REQUIRED
6. Although you certainly can learn about your bicycle's anatomy at many women-focused bicycle mechanics classes, you don't have to learn to be a bike mechanic to get into bike commuting. Just like eventually most people outsourced their car maintenance, you can do the same with your bicycle now. Good Samaritans abound on popular cycling routes to help you when you have trouble mid-route, and bike mechanics at cycle shops scattered throughout town can help you with any repair, modification, or upgrade you want to make to your bicycle. Increasing numbers of city public transportation vehicles, buses and trains, have spots to bring your bicycle along, and if you're not in the one of those cities, there's even a bicycle roadside insurance and assistance program - a AAA for bikes!
The time has never been better for you to get back on your bike!