Women on Wheels is a new handbook and how-to manual for city cyclists. Written by TreeHugger's very own April Streeter, we would love this pocket-sized friendly little book even if she wasn't one of ours.
As an avid and regular cyclist, both in Europe and now in Portland, Oregon, Streeter wanted to turn everyone on to the joys of city cycling.This practical and straightforward book is a call to action. April Streeter has created a little guide that provides confidence building and encouragement for new women riders. It's a feminist take on cycling and as such, an important addition to the many books on the subject.
Streeter has some interesting views on urban planning, and the impact of good road systems on the success of cycling in cities. As a woman rider, she quickly realized that men predominated in the US bike lanes; there are three male cyclists to every one cycling female. But in Europe the split is half and half. She makes the argument that this is because the European cities have better bike lanes and safer conditions. In her view, women go riding as soon as the roads feel safe. For example, in Minneapolis, voted the number one cycling city, 45% of the cyclists are women.
She approaches the different aspects of cycling from a woman's point of view. But it's not just about what to wear and how to keep your hair nice; although there is some good advice on those subjects too. There is information about buying that first bicycle. Finding a shop (usually an independent dealer) where you feel comfortable, that isn't too macho, and that will give you good service and proper attention. Choosing the right kind of bicycle for your lifestyle is important.
America loves bicycling gear and she has some strong views on that subject. For her it's not a necessity. All you really need is a good raincoat, good rain pants and a large scarf if too much decolletage shows when you are leaning over the handlebars. Tights are a girl's best friend too: they keep you warm and don't reveal anything if your skirt is short.
There is a good section on bike etiquette; "rules to live and bike by". She gives information on riding with babies, kids on cargo bikes and family rides.
Interspersed are some wonderful stories of early American women cyclists. As she says "My heroines are the women who rode more than 100 years ago – the Louise Armaindos and Dottie Farnsworths – when it was harder to ride, the social approbrium was higher, and the outfits were ridiculous."
Since this is written by a Portlandia, oops, Portland resident, we should mention the blog, girls on bikes, which is a wonderful resource for cyclists there and elsewhere.