Photo We Flashy.
You've heard it before, right? Safety and convenience are among the top reasons women don't take a larger piece of the bicycling pie. Thus far, nobody's found a foolproof way to ensure that cycling is safe, (though we'll say it's actually safer than a lot of "transportation" you may think is safer) nor is it always the most convenient (i.e. unexpected rain, snow, and occasional mad dogs).
But the following two Kickstarter campaigns - one for cool reflective clothing, the other for a "M.O.M." bike trailer - are doing their best to solve at least part of the safety and convenience challenges women face as cyclists.
Of the two projects, We Flashy is likely destined to have more widespread initial appeal - designers Mindy Tchieu and Alex Vessels are applying heavy-duty industrial reflective
tape material to all kinds of regular apparel. T-shirts and sweatshirts are their first two products, but when the pair receive their Kickstarter funds (they've already had 150% of their goal pledged) they plan to put the reflectivity on lots of other things, including hats and skirts. A $50 contribution to We Flashy's campaign gets a "logo t," while donors contributing $110 get a reflective hoodie.
As Vessels and Tchieu are clear to point out, reflective clothing increases visibility, but does not guarantee motorists will see you. What's unique is that We Flashy is providing a bit of extra ability to be seen without screaming "cycle geek."
In the long run, however, it may be Len Rubin's Multipurpose Overland Mover (M.O.M.) trailer that can help budding cyclists over time make their bikes nearly as convenient as their cars. Rubin had had a variety of bike trailers over his years as a commuter cyclist, but what he wanted was one trailer that would cover a multitude of cyclist needs, including child hauling, and all kinds of cargo moving. The need to move multiple children in a lightweight trailer is especially pressing for many women, and the lack of multi-children trailers is one reason they must resort to cars.
What makes the M.O.M. unique and fitting for women is the trailer's lightweight, flatbed design and special "telescoping tubes" that allow it (similar to those old-fashioned Erector set models) to be customized to different tasks.
If Rubin achieves his $35,053 goal, he'll build a proper prototype, purchase additional equiment and supplies, make dies for the telescope tubes, and generally move closer to local, Portland, Oregon-based construction of the M.O.M. trailers. A pledge of $399 puts donors in line for a M.O.M. trailer - see the other pledge levels and gifts here.
More on women and cycling:
6 Reasons The World Needs More Girls On Bikes
Why Bikes for Girls is a Lifechanging Concept in Africa (Video)
Why Women Bike, and Why They Don't
The Crusade Against Female Cyclists
5 States Where Women Barely Dare to Ride
Cycling Make Teens Smarter (But Just The Girls)