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What Will Make Women Cycle? Part Two3rd March 2016 Personal Injury
What can be done to help women who cycle to feel more confident in their appearance?
Following on from our previous 'What will make more women cycle?' blog, Twisted Spokes solicitor Jane Bedford McLaren looks at what can be done to help women who cycle to feel more confident in their appearance.
While it can sound like a bit of a 'wishy-washy' issue, appearance can be a big barrier to women cycling. As women, we tend to have greater expectations to meet when it comes to looking good, especially if, like me, you work in a smart office environment.
It goes without saying that turning up to work with sweaty, helmet-matted hair and crumpled clothes is neither conducive to your own confidence or to that of your colleagues. And for many women, this is the swing factor that prevents them from making their daily commute by bike.
What's already being done for female cyclists?
Lots of companies and organisations have tackled this issue and they tend to take one of two approaches. Firstly, and more popularly, we see lots of companies creating products and resources to help women look better while cycling.
There was, for example, the Sustrans Bike Belles campaign that provided women with general cycling advice as well as specific content about how to look good on a bike. There has also been huge rise in the variation of women's cycling clothing available compared to the scant options on offer just 10 years ago.
The second approach, as seen in the recent #thisgirlcan campaign run by Sport England, aims to normalise the realities of sport for women. Sport England says of the campaign:
'It is the first campaign of its kind to feature women who sweat and jiggle as they exercise'
While the This Girl Can campaign is aimed at encouraging more women to take part in sport, its general ethos is also relevant to women who are simply looking to cycle from A to B. However, there is really no getting around the fact that you will need to look presentable if going to a working environment.
The best approach?
With that in mind, I think the proactive approach to take if we want to encourage more women to cycle generally as opposed to in a specific sports-related environment is to accept that there are appearance issues negatively affecting the number of women cycling, and to look at the options for minimising these.
As I mentioned earlier, there are now far more options available for women looking for cycling clothing. Websites like Velovixen are specifically geared towards offering a range of options for women, while more mainstream sites such as Wiggle now tend to offer much more women's wear than they had done previously.
There are also sites that cater for women who don't feel confident in what can often be less-than-flattering cycling clothing. The Fat Lad at the Back website that started out by offering cycling gear for men of a larger physique, expanded to include Fat Lass at the Back for women. Clothing from this brand is sized by specific measurements, rather than the cover-all S, M, and L options more often seen. The objective is to offer women more flattering and comfortable wear to help them feel more confident.
But more is needed..
The upsurge in women-specific cycle wear is great, but on its own it is not enough. And even if we are to see significantly improved safety in terms of infrastructure, there is still the question of in-work facilities.
You can ride to work in form-flattering leggings, with a hairstyle that doesn't get obliterated by a helmet and use a solid pannier that protects your folded clothes... But, if there is no shower at work, or nowhere to hang a suit jacket, or nowhere to safely lock up your bike; you're only half-way there.
Encouraging more women to cycle (as well as more men) is an issue that is bigger than the 'cycling community.' Governments, councils and workplaces can get involved and make a huge difference and of course, some already are. What's more, with the benefits to national health that would come with more cyclists, it is worth the while of all involved to get stuck in.
Do you agree? Please do get involved in the debate, as we always love to hear your thoughts both men and women. You can leave your comments in the box below, get in touch on Facebook or talk to us on Twitter .
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