Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

A strapless dress in the bike lane is a sure sign of summer

Posted by on May 15th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

The sun is out and Portland’s streets are full of signs that summer is fast approaching — including this fantastically flowerly dress I spotted on my way to a meeting today…

A very good sign-1-2.jpg

Great to see for many reasons.

This woman and her dress are so great to see for a lot of reasons: It’s finally warm enough to go strapless, it’s a sign that she feels comfortable riding through the city in heels and a dress, it shows that biking fashion can go far beyond lycra and gore-tex, and it just reminds folks that anyone — even someone who’s all dressed up — can hop on a bike.

I tried to catch up with her to introduce myself, snap a few more photos, and try to explain I’m not a freaky-bike-lane-lurker, but I could barely keep up! She must have been late for a very important date.

One last comment…if biking in a dress is your thing, don’t miss the Pretty Dress Ride/Art Hop Bike Parade on Alberta tomorrow!

[By the way, if you’re waiting for my Sho Dozono interview and mayoral race analysis I’m sorry to say I haven’t been able to put it together yet. I need a larger block of time for it than I’ve had in the past couple of days. I plan to work on it tonight for publication tomorrow.]

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  • nahbois May 15, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    just a teeny weensy bit creepy of you, jonathan….


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  • girl on a bike May 15, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    And so it begins … I sorta like riding in the winter because the amount of clothing and gear keeps the cat-calls and ogling to a minimum. But I agree that there are few things more charming than cute skirts and dresses in close proximity to bikes. Funny how I have a much easier time getting cars to give me my right of way when the short skirts come out for the summer. And white knee socks can have the same traffic-slowing effect as a road flare, apparently.

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  • halle May 15, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    \”even a pretty lady, can hop on a bike\” wow, biking must be pretty easy if even a pretty lady lady can do it. they usually aren\’t good at too much besides looking pretty. i wonder if the ugly chicks can do it too. wtf?

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  • april May 15, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    People who like that shot should definitely visit Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

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  • Noel May 15, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    \”even a pretty lady, can hop on a bike\” I agree, that wasn\’t the best way to put it =D

    But yeah, most of the pretty ladies are afraid to get dirty …

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  • girl on a bike May 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Halle — I don\’t think Jonathan meant his comment to come off sounding quite the way you took it. I didn\’t put much feminist thought into my first comment either, but part of my point was that it\’s a little stupid that people who will impede on my right of way on a cold day when I\’m wearing pants will suddenly yield if doing so gives them the opportunity to check out a decent pair of legs. I think Jonathan\’s optimistically \”yay! pretty girl!\” point was meant to be encouraging, as in, \”even if you need to dress up to be someplace fancy, there\’s no reason you can\’t ride your bike there.\”

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  • anonymous May 15, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I am in love.

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  • Patrickz May 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I second girl-on-a-bike; a mix of sunny garments, dressy shoes and a bike are a welcome sign after the wet and grey tunnel we\’ve been through.

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  • Pete May 15, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Halle, I don\’t think Jonathan\’s comment was meant to be sexist. I know two girls who won\’t bike commute because they have to wear dresses and one \”wants to stay pretty\” (her comment, not mine). isamu\’s comment I interpret as sexist.

    g.o.a.b. – now, when I wear a dress on a bike I don\’t seem to get the same respect! πŸ˜‰

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  • patrik May 15, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Maybe he just meant: \”A strapless dress is a sure sign of summer\”

    Seriously people let\’s not psychoanalyze EVERY thing.


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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 15, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    my \”pretty lady\” comment was more a characterization of a woman\’s spirit and style.. not physical appearance.

    i figured that would be obvious but I see how it could have been misinterpreted.

    i added \”all doled up\” to help clarify that sentence. Actually, on second thought I just edited it again and removed the pretty lady part.

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  • cdotbois May 15, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    All \”doled\” or all \”dolled\”?

    [**Neither. I just changed that sentence again. Took out the pretty lady part. — Jonathan]

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  • Michael R May 15, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Jonathan, you couldn\’t catch up? You\’re getting old my friend. Very old.

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  • Eric Dolan May 15, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Good work Jonathan. Creepy…?!? Not the least bit…..rather casually elegant and full of beauty in our lifestyle, city and subject matter. Nice work!

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  • Duncan May 15, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Call me old school, but I see nothing wrong with appreciating a woman\’s looks (w/o drooling or cat calling, mind you), and I appreciate it when a woman takes a second look at me.

    I have been on the west coast nearly half my life now, and I have never understood two things about the NW: one, why they cannot seem to use turn signals appropriately, and two why men feel the need act guilty about doing what men from time before measure have done- look at women. Just don\’t be rude about it, have a look, smile, move on… Jesus what is it 5th grade or something?

    I myself have intentionally taken extra laps around the esplanade because of the fine view that a sunny day in Portland brings… and I feel now shame about it.

    And Johnathan, that is a fine picture of a cutie with some… well it rhymes with cutie…

    I am in Arcata today and the scenery is just as pleasing here- got off the boat and biked around, got some coffee and not only looked at, but *GASP* talked to some pretty bike girls I didn\’t know.

    I know I should hang my head in Emo shame.

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  • true May 15, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    If she has a wardrobe of helmets to match her dresses, I will be well impressed. I should look so fancy.

    Perhaps a red helmet to match the sunburn?

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  • ralph May 15, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    \”It\’s not the intent, it\’s the impression\”.

    A lot of people got worked up about the user of the word \”bitter\” a few weeks ago. A pretty good example of intent vs impression.

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  • beefa May 15, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I love all women on bikes. Regardless of the time of year. I\’m not creepy. just a big fan! πŸ™‚

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  • mmann May 15, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I think it was Billy Graham who said in an interview that there was nothing wrong with looking at beautiful women, but it\’s often the second look that leads to trouble πŸ˜‰

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  • Keith May 15, 2008 at 8:12 pm


    I hear a Flight of the Conchords song starting to play in my head.

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  • Caroline May 15, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Mega wattage hottage!

    Jonathan, good spottage!

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  • bosworth May 15, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    The \”pretty lady riding a bike\” issue is a classic \”misspeak\” We all know what Jonathan meant: that a woman in \”pretty mode\” – not a pretty woman who would otherwise be incompetent to ride a bike (I thought we were over that) – felt she could ride a bike in her dress because the weather was beautiful.

    I have that pleasure when the temperature here turns the corner and I realize I can ride to my meeting in… what I\’m wearing; or what I need to be wearing when I arrive. (OK – I don\’t get cat-calls because I\’m riding in dockers and have a tie on … but I like getting a smile and a hello now and then! Thanks!)

    C\’est Bon!

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  • Michael Oman-Reagan May 15, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    I love that two of the first three comments are totally absurd attempts to make this simple act of photography and appreciation of bike culture into something lecherous and sexist.

    Yo Portland, chill out! : )

    And as someone mentioned – this is in the grand tradition of Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

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  • Opus the Poet May 15, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    When I first read the headline I wasn\’t expecting someone to be wearing the dress in question. I honestly expected an article about finding a lost dress. I know, I\’m a literalist.

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  • Noel May 15, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Nice re-edit of the post. We all know you meant to say did not come off properly. And about the eralier comments, that\’s what make Portland so sweet ^^

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  • Male Allie and feminist May 15, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Of course I don\’t think Jonathan meant to be sexist in any way.

    However, to assert that someone has to have intent to act in a sexist manner is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. It\’s the collusion in sexist thinking – knowing or not knowing – that is the problem. That is why I think it is totally cool and awesome that folks cared enough to let Jonathan know how they felt about the characterization of the women in the picture.

    I think almost everyone\’s comments has been totally reasonable. The only comment\’s I find problematic are the one\’s that portray objectification of women by men as some type of innate \”guy thing\”. That leads down a bad path, for which this forum is not the place to discuss. Yet.

    Here is an idea… Jonathan, get a picture of my beautiful pasty, chain ring knarled, bmx pedal chewed, mtb scrapped legs when I am going over the Hawthorne this week you can objectify me, and project all the assumptions you want want.

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  • Robin May 15, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    it\’s true; all the pretty ladies are out in force. Maybe some of us ride all year but the weather is great for pretty dresses now. I can tell you as a biking fatty my wardrobe is getting much better now that I\’m less likely to get rained on. I have also seen a lot more bike ninjas (no lights, etc.) since the weather has gotten better (too bad most of them aren\’t black belts).

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  • Graham May 16, 2008 at 1:15 am

    OK, I have to admit I\’m swooning over that picture. There\’s something about the sight of a woman in a dress on a bike on a warm day that sends me over the moon. It\’s this magic combination of old-fashioned girliness with the vigor, adventurousness, and athleticism of a bike rider. Possibly my favorite sign of summer in Portland.

    I just checked that link for the Pretty Dress ride and, it seems, that the sight of a guy in a pretty dress has not nearly the same effect on me.

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  • nobleviola May 16, 2008 at 1:34 am

    What about fat guys in Hawaiian shirts? I rode to work tonight and no one gave me props for wearing a cute outfit! πŸ™‚

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  • Cpingenot May 16, 2008 at 6:16 am

    I made a point of riding to work every day this week in a dress for bike week. Hope that a few people who are sick of $4 gas see me and think, \”maybe I could bike to work in my work clothes.\”
    Having a dutch style \”city bike\” makes all the difference.

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  • Robin May 16, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Even on a road bike you can wear a dress. I just pull on a pair of bike shorts of pretty leggins and I don\’t have to worry about showing off too much.

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  • k. May 16, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Viva la difference, I say! I look at women on (and off) bikes all the time, in an admiring, not lecherous way. I\’m sorry if that\’s inappropriate but it\’s hard to imagine I\’d have ever gotten married if I didn\’t notice them.

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  • bahueh May 16, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Jonathan..its your website, post what you want, and don\’t try to appease EVERYONE\’s sensibility and lack of humor or freespirit…

    keep doin\’ what you\’re doing.

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  • BikeBillboards dot blogspot dot com May 16, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Why do you ASSUME that\’s a lady?

    Be the CHANGE you want YOUR world to be!

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  • Jerrod May 16, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Good job, bro! Good job! Thanks for the posting.

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  • Erik May 16, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Jonathan: I love the post. Listen to your heart. We are all human.

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  • Julie P. May 16, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Great picture! A true sign of summer.

    Props Jonathan to being sensitive to comment #3. Your first write up was well-intentioned, at least my reading of it. But I know some people that would interpret it that way. Women are (almost) always being judged by their beauty. On a scale that\’s different from men. Isn\’t biking suppose to be empowering and we want more people on a bike?? Well, it\’s baby steps like these that will help make the difference.

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  • jamie May 16, 2008 at 10:14 am

    \”I’m not a freaky-bike-lane-lurker…\”


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  • Brad May 16, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Portland – where ANYTHING said or written is certain to offend someone!

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  • steve May 16, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Oh the patriarchy just wont loosen its grip! The horror!

    Gender is just in our imagination. We are all identical. Same thing with hair color and height. We are actually all 4\’8\’\’ and have brown hair.

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  • girl on a bike May 16, 2008 at 10:27 am

    For the record, I think men riding bikes in suits has this same basic effect on people who are attracted to men. I married my sweetheart in late March, and it was such a treat to ride our bikes downtown after the ceremony to our fancy hotel room … we were both in our wedding finery, and pedaling next to my handsome new husband in his dapper suit was a lovely way to kick-start the honeymoon mood. Yum! Looking your best on a bike can\’t be anything but beneficial to the cause.

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  • Tasha May 16, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I LOVE summer riding! I wore shorts and a tank top today and it felt so good! I don’t even care about the cat calls, if they happen. I could ride and ride and ride in weather like this. So glad my knee healed in time for this beautiful weather. Riding is more comfortable than walking for me right now, so I love my bike even more.

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  • Elisasbeth May 16, 2008 at 11:59 am

    There is actually an entire Flickr group dedicated to cute people on bikes! Makes me want to dig out my camera so bad. Check it out…


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  • Ringo Star May 16, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    FemNazi\’s go home! And please take your San Fransico values with you. The Horror of Men(and Women) appreciating beauty or beautiful Women! I think this prevailing mentality is why there are so many single beatches in Portland. Where are all the real Women at these days? When being Manly is outlawed only outlaws…

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  • Deb May 16, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Important question – where did she find that lovely dress with taffata slip?

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  • Zaphod May 16, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    It\’s super cool when someone exhibits high fashion on a bike. Nice post.

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  • deathtongue May 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    \”get a picture of my beautiful pasty, chain ring knarled, bmx pedal chewed, mtb scrapped legs when I am going over the Hawthorne this week you can objectify me, and project all the assumptions you want want.\”

    i cannot wait for this either, as it will allow mw to vent my frustrations at hipsters.

    how do you all feel about Obama calling a reporter \”Sweetie\”?

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  • april May 16, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Hey…while you\’re at it…could you post some pictures of cute guys on bikes?

    With the weather warming up…good lord. I\’ve almost tripped over my feet or crashed my bike because I\’ve been checking out people on bikes. Male or female, everyone\’s on their bikes and showing more skin. My eyes are going to fall out of my head.

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  • Bike Bat - Carye Bye May 16, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    See you out for the parade with your hottest bikes tomorrow, and wear a pretty dress if you dare!

    We are meeting at 2 pm at the King school parking lot at 6th and NE alberta. woo hoo.

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  • bosworth May 16, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you April (#48) for what I believe should be the last word on the subject.

    Although I must admit that I occasionally miss checking out a beautiful woman on a bike because I\’m distracted by her beautiful BIKE! That\’s why we are all here on BikePortland.org right? Because BIKES are sexy!

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  • Racer X May 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Bosworth…it is safer to oggle the bikes than the riders…esp. when one is riding with a girlfriend. So far such bike lust has not been a punishable crime in our household as rider oggling is.

    Though I sometimes forget where the conversation was after a nice bike passes our cafe table πŸ˜‰

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  • Racer X May 17, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Jonathan…it must be time to lighten your camera load or get an electric bike with turbo boost…it looks like she was only pedaling a single speed bike. ;0

    So riders with dresses slow traffic and get a wider buffer from passing traffic – a safety twofer!

    But perhaps this will be the direction Vancouver bicyclists will now have to take this summer with the new helmet law…

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  • 21 speed May 17, 2008 at 12:26 am

    There are males who do not like to look at or \”oogle\” women I suppose. Maybe they like to look at or \”oogle\” other males. I am not into that, thank you very much.

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  • Duncan May 17, 2008 at 6:46 pm


    I did not say that the objectification of women was OK, but the act of looking at an attractive woman. If you believe that looking at a woman is equal to objrctifying her, then that is your problem… not mine.

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  • eli bishop May 18, 2008 at 10:07 am

    i love pretty dresses on bikes, but i want to sincerely thank \”Male Allie and feminist\” #26 for his response, as well as the others who promoted awareness of beauty, feminist and heteronormative issues. and thanks for responding to the feedback, jonathan.

    (alas, i\’d wear pretty dresses on bikes more often if it didn\’t require copious amounts of sunscreen.)

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  • Duncan May 18, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    #53 the difference between looking and ogling is one of those things that is hard to define, but you know it when you see it… I tend to look as opposed to ogle. Making a big deal about being able to notice an attractive woman is like making a big deal about being able to tie your shoes when you are 20…

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  • HHRabbit May 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    @ 3

    sure they can do it, and frighten the rest of us into traffic.

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  • Carissa Wodehouse May 19, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Oh, Jonathan, if anything you should increase your stalker skillz. I\’ve been wearing cute dresses and riding all week and I haven\’t seen my picture up here!

    Can we have a bikeportland fashion blog? For savvy dressers of all genders? I\’ll do it!

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  • a.O May 20, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I thought I\’d pass along this piece from CNN, which I think puts some of the comments here into perspective and provides a fascinating look at the history of \”pretty ladies\” and bicycles. As they say, you\’ve come a long way, baby:


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  • Duncan May 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    great link thanks

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  • blitzkrieg May 20, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    hey now —

    the reason i find this post questionable has nothing to do with jonathan\’s intentions, neither does it make me a \”feminazi\” — just a reasonably conscious human being.

    what is questionable about this post is the fact that the rider remains faceless and unidentified and just a pretty body on a bike — jonathan, if you couldn\’t catch up to her and at least ask her permission to share an image of her body and her dress with the rest of the world, then you shouldn\’t have published this post. there will be more pretty ladies wearing pretty sundresses while riding pretty bikes. it\’s as simple as that.

    allow her a choice as to whether she wants to share this image with a forum that extends beyond just the day she chose to wear the dress, being seen by more than just the people she happened to pass. it\’s not your right to immortalize her.

    point being, it\’s the image that\’s provocative, and also the fact that you didn\’t get her permission. you could have just told us you\’d been seeing women in heels and beautiful dresses riding bikes across the city until you\’d manage to actually talk to one of us… since there are many fine portland women who do so.

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  • wsbob May 20, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    The beautiful rider in the flower print dress is faceless? Well not really…the face isn\’t actually revealed in the picture, but visualizing any number of faces with such beauty seems to naturally follow.

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  • Duncan May 20, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    That image is provocative? It is lovely, yes… stunning even- but it is a picture of a fully clothed woman on a public right of way. A person in public has a fairly low expectation of privacy..

    Are you saying that by simply wearing a dress she is somehow a sexually provocative act? Maybe she shouldn\’t be showing so much ankle, better yet maybe she should wear a burkha… and she is out in public without a male relative to escort her.. Oh wait a second we live in a country where she is free to dress as she chooses (within reason) and we are free to look at her (also within reason).

    I am thankful I live in a place where she can bike, I can look, and nobody is worse off for it. Perhaps your perspective is reasonable to you, but it is mistaken to me. There is nothing wrong with anything here- no one has made any statement regarding this woman based upon her looks, other than she is indeed a good looking woman.

    And a snappy dresser.


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  • amypants May 20, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Hey no worries so you worded what you wanted to say wrong, everyone quit jumping down his throat! I am a lady that only bikes when it\’s nice since I only wear dresses, and it is impossible to wear a waterproof dress.

    Hey by the way where are the dresses that are designed for biking??? Come on people!!!!


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  • ckpdx May 21, 2008 at 2:33 am

    just throwing this out there to be provocative…whenever I ride with my girlfriend and she is \”dolled up,\” I get free passes at stop signs, more than three feet on the side and other niceties not given when I am alone. I think this speaks more to the mentality of dudes out crusin\’ than jonathan and other bikers

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  • Red Dawn May 21, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    \”allow her a choice as to whether she wants to share this image with a forum that extends beyond just the day she chose to wear the dress, being seen by more than just the people she happened to pass. it\’s not your right to immortalize her.\”

    sorry, but it is J\’s right. ever heard of google street view?

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  • Duncan May 21, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    More Bike eye-candy.


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  • girl on a bike May 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Amy — here\’s my secret to being a dress-wearing cyclist in any weather. Any dress that is made out of a quick-drying, lightweight material and allows enough movement is the perfect dress for biking. When it\’s not cold out, even if it\’s rainy, I love biking in a lightweight dress with tights. Tights dry SO fast, it hardly even registers that you got wet … unless it\’s really ridiculously wet. Then again, bare legs dry fast too ; ). I concur that dutch-style bikes make riding in a dress super easy, but I only ride road bikes, and I wear dresses and skirts all the time when I ride. Granted, I\’m not the most prim lady cyclist on the road, but that\’s what shorts are for. Buy leggings from thrift stores and chop \’em off around bike-short length. Even under short skirts it works really well.

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  • travis May 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    i hope the lady in the picture sees this post. i\’d like to hear what she thinks about what all of you think she (and johnathan) should think.

    also, using yr eyeballs to see other people (regardless of gender) does not automatically equal objectifying or ogling them. if it did, how do any of you manage to exist in this world? is everyone a creep? can\’t anyone appreciate beauty or radness? just cause you think someone is purdy, goodlookin, or well dressed….that don\’t mean that yr a perv.

    i think if anyone here has frequented bikeportland.org they\’d know that it ain\’t some voyeuristic weirdo site!!!

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  • Duncan May 22, 2008 at 8:23 am

    girl on a bike…

    you make me think that maybe I will be able to ride my road bike with a utilikilt… although I prefer boxer briefs to tights.


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  • Mikael May 22, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    A wonderful photo… but what a strange experience reading the comments. Here in Europe this discussion wouldn\’t even exist. Men and women alike would understand the point and they would enjoy the photo and they would move on.

    Portland\’s bike infrastructure and blossoming bike culture is fantastic. This strange psychoanalysis of a lovely blogpost is weird. πŸ™‚

    Regarding the photo, it\’s Copenhagen style, which is fantastic to see \’over there\’.

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  • Graham December 11, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Oh, man. I just stumbled upon this old story.

    It’s going to be a looong winter.

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  • Duncan December 12, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I looked at that photo and almost cried.

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  • wsbob December 13, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Well, she’s gorgeous, and a reinvigorating sight to see in the cold midst of Oregon winter…Graham, thanks for bringing that thread back around.

    Winter’s not all bad though. Remember the thread from last year featuring the beer commercial?

    Errol Morris beer short

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  • Matthew Denton April 5, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Racer X #52: She isn’t riding a single speed, you see the derailer in the shadow.

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