How to Bike In a Skirt

My least favorite season has descended on Reno with a stifling hot vengeance. I ride home every day for lunch in addition to my regular ride during commute hours, so when temperatures are in the 80s and 90s as they have been for the past couple weeks, I feel the brunt of that heat. At this point in the year, wearing long, fitted pants is basically out of the question, so you can find me most days riding to and from work in a dress or a skirt.

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Here’s one way to do it. Could be a bit much for a Reno summer, though.

A lot of people (and clothing manufacturers) make a pretty big deal about riding in a skirt. How can it be done?! Won’t yards of lace get tangled in the spokes? Won’t our dignity be impeached? Lucky for you, readers, I have put together an exclusive Reno Bikes two-step guide to riding a bike in a skirt:

Step 1: Put on a skirt.

Step 2: Ride a bike to your destination.

It really is that easy. A typical dress for me is semi-roomy (no yards of extra material but not skin-tight) and hits just above the knee, and I bike in these with no other special accommodation most days with no incident. In my experience, the dress rides up maybe to the mid-thigh level, still keeping things far more covered than an average pair of shorts. Occasionally, a sturdy gust of wind will introduce a little flutter into the skirt, such that a little more leg is exposed and I have to readjust the material. What can people see as I bike toward them in this getup? Not much. First off, I’m pedaling in a dress, not standing stock still in the nude. Even if they could see right up the old skirt, it would only be for an instant, and all they’d see was some fairly tame leg. Second off, all the information they’d get from this rare glimpse is readily available at your nearest public pool. This is just one fairly body-confident woman’s opinion, but I don’t see the presence of skirts as a good excuse to avoid riding, or as a reason to spend a bunch of money on very specific bike-friendly technical skirts with uncomfortable built-in shortlets to preserve the delicate modesty of my more uppity neighbors. If you are wearing a skirt and you want to ride a bike, you have my permission to just do it.

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Rad ladies, rad clothes. Dignity in tact.

If covering up a little more when you’re wearing a skirt or dress would make your ride more comfortable and pleasant, then by all means, do it. On extremely windy (or cold) days, or with quite short dresses and pencil skirts that I have to hike all the way up around my bum just to get on the bike, I’ve been known to slip on a pair of bike shorts underneath so I don’t have to think about it. If you don’t have bike shorts, a pair of low-profile regular shorts will work just fine as well. The point is to just to wear whatever makes you feel comfortable in your own skin on the bike, and to know that your choice of attire doesn’t have to dictate your choice of transportation.

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Here’s to Small Victories

I’m easing back into work this week after a bike-filled vacation (more on that in a few posts to come), and it feels like a good time to take things slow and celebrate some small victories, in no particular order:

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve has started saying some positive things about green bike lanes. This doesn’t exactly sound like the start of the revolution, but it’s nice to see our mayor adding positive things to the conversation about bike infrastructure, safety and culture. Even more encouraging are the slew of comments on that Facebook post, the vast majority of which are from cyclists and drivers alike in support of better bike infrastructure. This article goes a little deeper, including a nice quote from bike-friendly Coucilmember David Bobzien about the importance of connectivity when considering an alternative transportation system. We can’t rely on Reno’s fantastic proximity alone – we need sensible connections and I’m happy to see that on the City Council’s radar.

I don’t need any additional reasons to love outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia with my whole heart and soul, but they gave me one this week: the company’s Reno distribution center matched every mile their employees rode during Bike to Work Week with a $1 donation to the Reno Bike Project, for a total donation of $5,535! What a fantastic idea. Biking to work made those employees happier and healthier, their awesome employer benefited from the boost in morale and matched that good feeling with a donation to an organization that gets more butts on more bikes, which ultimately leads to increased demand for safer and more streamlined bike infrastructure, which loops right back around and benefits those original employees. This is how it should work, folks. Like many people in Reno, I have personal connections to Patagonia, but even if I didn’t I would love this company.

I was out for a run early this morning – I’m getting back into running after a hiatus – when I came across a striping crew putting in (or maintaining?) a crosswalk at California and Nixon! This might not faze too many of you, but for me it’s a red letter day. Many of my running routes cross California at Nixon, and the traffic flow combined with a somewhat blind corner mean that I’m forced to either stand around for minutes waiting for a clean traffic break or play a dangerous game of Frogger. I am 100% DELIGHTED by this crosswalk. One little victory in the fight for a ped- and bike-friendly city!

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This tiny bit of infrastructure will make a real difference in my day-to-day as a pedestrian in my neighborhood. Thanks Reno!

One of my coworkers has started riding his bike to work regularly (with a sweet ride he picked up at the Reno Bike Project, of course), and it makes me smile every time I hear him wheeling his bike through the office.It’s easy to start feeling like a mild freak when you’re the only one showing up to work slightly sweaty and helmeted day in and day out, and it’s just so nice to be “one of the bike people”, instead of “the bike person”. On a related note, summer has descended on Reno and the masses have taken to their bikes! Throughout winter, I consistently see 4-5 other cyclists on each leg of my commute; now, there are almost that many bikers waiting at each intersection. It makes me so happy to see the simple and lovely phenomenon of people getting it right and riding to work.

Finally, Sundance Books and the Reno Bike Project are hosting an evening of bike chat and yummy food next Wednesday, June 8 from 7 – 9pm at Sundance. Elly Blue is one of the speakers/hosts/whatever, which I’m stoked about since she wrote Bikenomics, a story intertwining my first and second loves. I’ll definitely be there. Tickets here.