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Fashion, cycling and sustainable communities

April 6, 2009

Today the tricky problem of getting women to cycle and cycling fashion (note: I use the term fashion here loosely) was pondered in the Guardian. Helen Pidd questions why it is beyond the imagination of designers to come up with garments suited to the demands of the cyclist that didn’t risk the wearer being mistaken for a member of the team mending the water mains?

This may seem like a frivolous question. But in fact, it’s not just journalists that recognise there is a problem here. At the LGiU’s local government inquiry Active Communities: Cycling to a better quality of life the image of cycling was highlighted as one of five myths that need to be tackled to get people on their bike.

Women in particular were highlighted as seeing cycling as something that can not be done as part of a normal day without time for hair styling and a change of clothes. This myth was dispelled with reassurance that cycling could be stylish – take a look at Copenhagen Cycle Chic if you need convincing.

The other four myths / challenges to increasing cycling rates:

  • Focus on motorised transport
  • Perceived risk
  • Not recognising the wider benefits of cycling
  • View of geography and weather conditions.

Cycling has an important part to play in creating communities that are healthy and sustainable. The inquiry report goes onto suggest policy measures that could overcome these challenges, including a review of transport regulations and changes to funding patterns.

They may be myths but when councils are considering their strategic approach to increasing cycle rates they need to bear in mind the day to day concerns we all have.

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