When it comes to bike commuting, I'm a little bit of a cheater.
On the one hand, I don't have a car, I do ride my bike ever single day, and I ride in all weather and all year round.
But I never have to be at work at 8:00 a.m. So I only intermittently join the streams of morning and evening bike commuters as they speed their way to the office five days a week in my bike-friendly city of Portland, Oregon.My city really is bike friendly - we have bike lanes and neighborhood greenways, we have bike boxes and special traffic lights just for cyclists. We have Pedalpalooza, and we have Sunday Parkways.
And still, with all this friendliness, only about 1/3rd of our bike 'stream' is women. And while we're not the best in the nation, we're amongst the best, in terms of women bike commuters (Minneapolis is better). I can understand it - there are lots of reasons, and one of them is that with all that friendliness, there's still a pushy, cranky, aggressive feeling in the bike lanes at 7:55 a.m. on weekdays. There's still a lot of people who use their commute as their workout. There's still a lot of Lycra. There is still a lot of sweat.
On the bright side, there's a lot you can do, as an individual, to make sure that your ride is as safe and low-stress and low sweat as you can make it. If you want to. The staff at popular web mag Chatelaine collected their favorite tips for biking to work from women staffers – like most biking women, they have figured out, via trial and error, safe and stylish ways to ride their bike to work.
Here's a sampling of Chateleaine' staffers sweat-busting bike commuting advice:
“I take the side roads and cut through neighbourhood streets rather than the more direct main roads. It’s more chill and you avoid trucks, buses and other hazards. Plus it feels less like a commute to work and more a leisurely morning ride. When I get to work I feel more relaxed and ready than I do taking the subway or even driving.” — Rose Pereira, senior associate art director
“I always carry a can of Batiste dry shampoo in my handbag. I spray it on about 15 minutes after I get to the office, after I have acclimatized to the air-conditioning. It solves any sweat concerns.” — Vanessa Wyse, creative consultant
“Bike shorts all the way. Slip them on under your work dress or skirt, and take them off when you get to the office. I also leave my hair wavy and semi-damp from the shower, then when I take it out of my helmet, I just tousle it a bit with my fingers — I’m all for embracing the helmet hair.” — Alexandra Gater, assistant editor
“Bike helmets are a necessary evil. I resisted wearing one for a really long time because it just wasn’t cute. Now I own a sparkly number that makes me happy every time I put it on. I’m also a big advocate of bike shorts! American Apparel makes a pair with lace along the hem, so they look cute even when they’re peeking out from under your skirt.” — Nicola Hamilton, senior designer
There are lots of books now and even complete web sites that give good advice for women who want to commute by bike. It's a choice, and it's not for everyone, but if you want to do it, there are not lots of resources available, and summer, which most of us in the northern hemisphere are experiencing, is a great time to start.
Read the entire set of Chatelaine tips here.
For myself, when I need to commute with the fast commuter streams, and I don't want to sweat, I either take it very slow and steady, removing layers as I get heated, or I ride my e-bike!