The Cycle Chic movement is perplexing to me. I enjoyed the conversation that Elly Blue had with Elly Kristin Tieche in Momentum Magazine back in October, especially the points that Elly (I respect you as a professional, but is it cool if we are on a first name basis, E.B.?) made about cycle chic objectifying women and instead of getting more women on bikes, is focusing more on making us conscious of our body image while riding. Elly revisits this topic in a recent post over at her blog, Taking the Lane.
I hypothesize that Cycle Chic’s true message and appeal is at its base, at least in North America, is that it seeks to normalize a gendered code of conduct that, sadly, still holds considerable appeal among both sexes. Its message is that bicycling can be a means of, rather than a barrier to, conforming to a certain set of standards of gender and class stereotypes. Access to these standards is far from universal.
In order to truly break down barriers to bicycling, it’s necessary to understand what those barriers are; which requires listening to people, rather than mocking them. It will also require, perhaps to the chagrin of Cycle Chic purists, a whole hell of a lot of activism. I don’t know about Denmark, but here in the US there’s a lot of work to be done on multiple fronts of gender parity and cycling policy, from the floors of community bike shops to the halls of Congress. Great things can certainly be achieved while wearing high heels, but never solely by doing so.
I really encourage you to visit Taking the Lane and read the rest of what Elly has to say. And please, read the comments! There are some really interesting discussions happening around the complex Cycle Chic movement, feminism, safety... what do you think??