Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Hey ladies, this survey’s for you!

Posted by on March 19th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Sexy Cyclists Ride-16.jpg

Survey hopes to figure out what
makes women more likely to ride.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Women are widely regarded in bike wonk circles as an indicator species of a city’s level of bike-friendliness. If women are riding, the thinking goes, then biking conditions must be good.

But why is this? What specific factors motivate women to ride? The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals has launched an online survey to find out.

The APBP says it help them in “figuring out what factors need to be addressed to encourage women to cycle more places more often.” The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and it’ll be open until May 15, 2010.

Take the Women’s Transportation Cycling Survey.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • aljee March 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    no helmet AND smoking?!?!
    i can practically hear the underoos bunching in 3..2..1..

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  • Dave March 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I can hear the cries of outrage echoing off the west hills 🙂

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  • Jackattak March 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Shit for a second there I thought that was my wife! But her bike is baby blue.

    She rides a ’55 Schwinn Fairlady with 70’s Stingray ape-hangers and banana seat.

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  • Caroline March 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Oh God, here we go again. As I’m a nurse and I know full well how smoking kills people, bla bla bla…


    SHE makes me want to ride my bike!

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  • aljee March 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    i’ll second the nomination of hottness.

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  • Val March 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    What Caroline said, absolutelike. The perfect picture for this story.

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  • AaronF March 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I’m deeply offended by the hottness.

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  • Anne Hawley March 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I took the survey. It was weird. If you already ride your bike–which is who they’re going to get filling it out–then the whole critical swath of questions about “What stops you from being a bike-riding lady” are irrelevant.

    And “ladies”? “Gentlemen”? What is this, 1962?

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  • joe metal cowboy kurmaskie March 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    She’s gonna need to ride her bike now, cause smoking really does a number on lung capacity… down the road a bit though, so that’s for future hot girl to worry about. And the hotness thing loses out to the prune face sucking on a cancer stick every time.

    There, someone had to do the surgeon general’s bidding. Now, back to oggling the hot cyclist like we’re on the set of Madmen.

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  • Erinne March 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I wish this survey didn’t support the gender binary by segregating women from men and leaving transgendered people out altogether. There’s really no reason they couldn’t have let everyone take this survey, then split that data based on gender identity.

    I also didn’t like how many stereotypes of female-identified riders the questions included. “I hate arriving anywhere all red and sweaty,” “Helmets mess up my hair”–please!

    That being said, I forwarded the survey link to some friends, several of whom are new to riding or don’t ride every day for various reasons.

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  • q`Tzal March 19, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Sounds like the questions where written by some guy with their head stuck in 1950’s sensibilities of women then filtered through the PC police.
    You can’t just remove the offensive words from a line of questioning and not expect the intent doesn’t get through.
    It’s too easy to write the questions on a poll to achieve the results the writer wants.

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  • Woodstock Bike/Transit Junkie March 19, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Great picture!

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  • resopmok March 20, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Maus, I know you write a lot so it’s easy to make the mistake, but it should be, “…the thinking goes, then biking conditions…” instead of than. Sorry if I sound like an arse for pointing it out.

    #9 – Let’s leave the personal put-downs for the radio shock jocks and try to think about addictions with a bit more compassion than hate. Nobody likes to be insulted, whether what they do is right or wrong in your opinion. Also, you should reconsider your chauvinistic comment: whether it was sarcastically intended or not, it makes you sound pretty ignorant.

    Maybe this is the attitude that keeps women from riding? I’m a man, but if I was approached with “U R hot!1!” and “U R dumb!,” I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to have any part in it either.

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  • AaronF March 20, 2010 at 2:04 am

    #10 Erinne “also didn’t like how many stereotypes of female-identified riders the questions included. “I hate arriving anywhere all red and sweaty,”

    Heck, I don’t really like arriving at work all red and sweaty, and I’m a pig.

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  • AaronF March 20, 2010 at 2:07 am

    “What type of bicycle did your husband buy you?”

    I kid

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  • Red Five March 20, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Is that a woman? In Portland you can’t be too sure.

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  • chrisg March 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    that survey was incredibly sexist.

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  • are March 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    bare shoulders, short hair, and sunglasses make someone “hot”? or maybe it’s the brompton?

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  • joe metal cowboy kurmaskie March 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    #13. If you read my comment as closely as you worked on Jonathan’s grammar you would have noticed that I was making fun, in a lighthearted way, about all the other comments regarding the woman in the photo being “hot.” Thus the reference to Madmen… the polar opposite of “chauvinistic. As for smoking- cars are the new smoking, but smoking is well, in my opinion, the old smoking and I was pointing out that it makes riding a bike harder over the long haul, and dries out your face, not to mention costs all of us millions of dollars in healthcare costs. My opinion, free country and all that.

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  • Dan March 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Hot? What?

    Strike one – those gigantic sunglasses. Sorry, I don’t get it. They just look silly to me.

    Strike two – cigarette. I react really badly to cigarette smoke, so it’s an ingrained dislike.

    Strike three – the dress. Looks like it was bought at the same Walmart the sunglasses came from.

    The Brompton on the other hand…

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  • Erinne March 20, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Ugh, it’s pretty disappointing that this thread is, ultimately, just about whether the woman in the photo is “hot.” If that doesn’t illustrate sexism in the bicycling community I don’t know what does.

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  • wsbob March 20, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Erinne…you didn’t mention what you hoped people would be talking about in this thread.

    Are you thinking that the appearance of this girl doesn’t at all relate to that? Bikeportland’s Editor in Chief could easily have used a more neutral, generic photo to illustrate the story, one that wasn’t so likely to push a bunch of human sexual buttons.

    How about one of those ‘before’ type photos from the weightwatcher ads…or, even the ‘after’ photo? That might have got more thought directed towards the survey.

    Cigarettes are one of those big jokes on humanity. The romantic-sexual tricks people are able play on people through the use of them, is amazing. Like some other things that look ‘cool’, the reality of them is wretched.

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  • KWW March 20, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Yeah, the last image you need to associate bicycles is the young female hipster, that segment is very much represented. How about middle aged and senior women. PBOT data shows the demographic falls off a cliff for older women, whereas men riding habits drop off gradually with age.

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  • Robert March 21, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Cars are the new smoking.

    Smoking is the new farting.

    Smoke in my air, I’ll fart in yours.

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  • Anonymous March 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I liked that you could answer “all that apply” on most of the questions.
    If I had to choose between assertive, cautious, or carefree as my riding style, I would have bailed on the survey immediately, because all 3 of those words describe the way I ride.

    The photo is from “the sexy cyclist ride”.
    She’s smoking ’cause she smokes… not because she thinks it’s sexy, and she doesn’t give a hoot what you think about it.

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  • Erinne March 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    wsbob–How about the topic of the survey? Namely, that statistically less women bicycle than men. What causes it, and how can we achieve more gender balance? Do less female-identified people cycle out of fearfulness? Is it lack of education about safe cycling? Is it feeling like they are talked down to by men in the bicycling community? Is it vanity like some of the survey questions suggest? Is it that they feel objectified by the bicycling community? (This thread points towards “yes” on that last issue.)

    And yes, I do think the editor should have chosen a different photo. That’s a seriously impractical cycling outfit, especially with the giant cancer stick hanging out of her mouth.

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  • Anonymous 2 March 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Being an indicator species? Cool. I answered the survey.

    Being referred to as “ladies” even by Jonathan Maus? Not so cool. Unless he is going to use “gentlemen” as much as he does “ladies”, then maybe just sticking to “women” is the way to go.

    Way to go Erinne @ #26. You’re right. That’s the topic. Not the peanut gallery’s boring and oh so predictable comments about the appearance of the woman in the photo.

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  • Anonymous March 21, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    “That’s a seriously impractical cycling outfit”
    I honestly think this attitude is one of the problems that needs to be ad dressed.

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  • wsbob March 22, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Erinne…the questions you offered as ones you’d rather people having been talking about seem to me to be very good ones.

    Without completing it, I went through the survey to take a look at what questions were being asked. The survey covers a lot of angles that might relate to a person deciding to ride or not to.

    I can easily understand that a lot of women that might otherwise be inclined to ride, aren’t doing so, because much of road conditions today, even with bike lanes, requires quite a sturdy resolve.

    There may be a reality message suggested in the use of the photo above of the girl in a great dress and a butt hanging off her lip. Though some people are naturally going to find her image inescapably attractive, simple sexual attractiveness isn’t what I would imagine the selection of the photo had to do with.

    In a way, it’s kind of the same old story repeated in a slightly different way: ‘women can’t do this because…’ ‘women can’t do that because…’ Repeated ad nauseum, the public collectively starts to believe it. Until, that is, some gutsy personality comes along thinking…’Oh yeah?’.

    So that’s what that photo is of. The type of personality that says…I can drive horses…I can drive cars…I can ride a bike just fine wearing a short dress. Takes awhile for many of the rest to see there might be a good idea in there, put there foot down and demand improvements allowing a greater range of people to take part.

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  • Zen March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

    As someone who has had 2 relatives die of emphysema and currently know 2 more people battling emphysema, I was pretty disappointed to see a bicycling site promoting smoking! My father also died at 55 of a heart attack mostly due to his 3 pack a day smoking habit.

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  • Erinne March 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

    #28 – From experience, that IS an impractical bicycling outfit, though it could be totally appropriate for some riding. But I don’t think that “attitude” is the problem–I don’t think people should NOT cycle in dresses. I look at people wearing skirts and dresses on bicycles and think “you go…!” People can wear what they want while cycling, but it doesn’t mean they want to be ogled or cat-called or have their “hotness” debated by folks on the street or in an online comment thread. That’s really my point.

    wsbob – Thanks for those thoughtful comments.

    And finally, I can’t help but wonder if the latest BikePortland banner is a response to this thread.

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  • Duncan March 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I enjoy a nice smoke after a long ride. Thankfully I am not “hot” and thus will never have my picture taken.

    And taking a picture of someone smoking isnt promoting it. That looks like a classic Portland moment.

    And yes she is Hot… Hot enough to sport those glasses anyway.

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  • Brad March 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm


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  • Zen March 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Duncan, if this isn’t promoting smoking, then maybe Jonathan & other parents who read this site should show this picture to their daughters so that they know how to ride in style! Anyway, that ends my coming to this site. I look for sites that share my values and obviously, this isn’t one of them.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    While I knew the photo might get some attention, I had no idea it would lead to this.

    Zen, sorry you don’t feel this site shares your values. We’ll miss you and I hope you’ll reconsider.

    I also never realized that “ladies” would be considered derogatory. I just thought it was a nice alternate word for women.

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  • Ely March 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    bromptons are hot.
    “ladies” is classy.
    bikes go with all lifestyles: lance armstrong, homeless dude, short-skirt-wearing smoking chick. and that’s awesome.

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  • AaronF March 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Jonathan: Women is derogatory too, depending on who you ask.

    Womyn is better.

    Good luck not offending anybody!


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  • pixiestyx March 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Ya know, use of the word “ladies” is OK by me. It isn’t “girls” or some other minimizing term that I used to hear a lot back in the day (I am a middle-aged female). And a cute young woman with a cig dangling from her mouth isn’t bothersome to me either, although I think smoking and riding without a helmet are dumb ideas.

    I don’t think she’s representative of the target demographic of women who aren’t riding but could.

    And I really do hate getting to work all sweaty and hot, it’s a long, nasty ride. So I admit that helmet hair is an issue for me.

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  • KJ March 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I agree with you about the survey, but still think it can be made into a useful tool.
    Many categories for me, most actually, I found myself checking other and stating that for me none of the above were relevant and why. So by filling out their survey I also pointed out to them, where for this cis female, the survey lacked.
    I also did include my email if they wanted to talk to me further.
    So one way to point this out is to use the survey to tell them as much. =)

    And I also think, and I am sad that I think this, that the survey is targeting the type of women who are least likely to get on a bike and therefore women who identify to that kind of gender norm,and so are an important pool to survey.
    But it wouldn’t hurt to have more data sets to sort though and wouldn’t have taken much time to do. You would think it would save time later, but i think the gender binary is still to default for most people that it never crosses their mind.

    And I also think the idea her outfit may be impractical to you, and others, is part of the problem getting people on bikes. why? I don’t think it would be considered impractical in Europe, partly because the bikes there are more all kinds of clothing friendly. but clothing is a big part of what keeps people off bikes here. The idea you need special gear and bikes that aren’t designed to be ridden in everyday clothes, no chain guards, step thrus etc.

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  • ambrown March 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Mister Maus, I’m also going to stop reading bikeportland until you take down those stories about the bike-thru at burgerville. Like cigarettes, hamburgers are a giant drain on our society through significant health expenditure, and I refuse to interact with anyone whose personal health decisions don’t adhere to my strict opinion of The Ideal Healthy Life ™. /sarcasm>

    Yo, okay, I’ll concede that maybe this wasn’t the best photo to run for the “why don’t women cycle?” survey. But people do smoke, just like people do eat hamburgers, and while we should be finding ways to discourage unhealthy activities (especially those, such as smoking, that have externalities in the form of second-hand smoke), let’s not ignore the fact that people make life decisions that aren’t always the healthiest, and our job as society shouldn’t be to play the morality or judgemental cards as much as to gently persuade better lifestyles.

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  • bob March 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I thought you used this picture because it was humorous. I think she looks intentionally ridiculous like you see on any decent pedalpalooza ride.

    Now the Brompton, that is sexy.

    You can’t survey the choir and ask them why they don’t like singin’. They ought to be handing out this survey at bus stops and car dealerships.

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  • ambrown March 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    and to agree with comment 23, @Kww, I think that perhaps a better image might have been a middle aged- or senior woman, just seeing as how young women are relatively well represented on the streets (at least compared to older women).

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  • Molly March 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    De-lurking briefly before running away. As it would happen, one of the few other times I commented on this blog was a couple of years ago in response to a photo of two women (athletes, but you wouldn’t have known it from the picture) feting a male athlete between them — it looked like something from the 1960s. Someone else had commented (a woman) and the response was disappointing and after chiming in with support and seeing the rain of ‘get over it’ comments in response, I quit reading this blog for a couple of years. Maybe I’m too sensitive. 🙂 Maybe we need to have a “women bike Portland” blog (sad to think …). But anyway, I thought I should say something before moving on to take the survey and think about things more important than this …

    “Ladies” = not necessarily derogatory, but verging on patronizing. My girlfriends and I use the word all the time (yes, I call them “girlfriends”), but we’re being slightly tongue-in-cheek — if you’re confused by the double standard of women being able to call each other “ladies” and men not, I have some choice other words I can point you to that illustrate the same point.

    Photo = sad choice to me. I’ve been an on-and-off again smoker most of my life — started at 14, last quit a year ago. Am I a stupid person for having this addiction and is it my responsibility to do something about it? Sure, yes — you’re not to blame for that. But do I like seeing my demographic represented and marketed to with a “sexy” photo of a smoking woman? No, not at all. In fact, I find it pretty depressing. It reminds me of the fantasies I had about the glamor and independence of smoking, something I learned from media, among other places.

    I’d have liked to see the glamor and independence of BIKING illustrated without reliance on outdated images and words.

    Anyway – thanks for getting the word out about the survey.

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  • lIsa March 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    If you are going to use “ladies” then use “gentlemen.”

    “Ladies” is still used by many as a descriptor and it always sounds slightly dinosaur’ish and dated. It’s not that it’s derogatory so much as it seems like a throwback to a time when women were minimized and diminished by the term. Some women don’t mind being called ladies. Lots do. Count me in the latter crowd.

    Just sidestep the whole deal and use “women” and “men.” How far through the archives do I need to look to find an article on bikeportland that uses “gentlemen” in the title?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      Molly, lisa, and others,

      Thanks for your feedback. I hear it loud and clear and it is firmly in mind from here on out.

      And lisa, I’ve never used the word “gentlemen” in a headline, but I have used it in a story… not nearly as much as I’ve used “ladies” however. Speaking of the archives… If you look back at the 6,000+ articles over the past 5 years you’ll see many many stories about awesome women doing awesome things.

      I hope everyone realizes that I have the best intentions when I decide what to publish and I apologize that this photo and headline has offended some of you.

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  • erin g. March 22, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Great to hear about the survey!

    I do have to say – during my recent trip to Amsterdam and Paris, I was thrilled to see so many people of all ages, shapes, sizes and genders in both cities riding bikes in volumes that give Portland something to continue to strive toward. However, I was sad to see so very many beautiful young (and old) people smoking – everyone seemed to smoke in both cities! Re: the photo, this could have been one chance for us to lead the way…there are many hot biking girls in town who don’t need the cig hanging out of the mouth (I, too, used to smoke, but I don’t think it looked or smelled good)…

    May biking continue to appeal to all walks of life, and may it also inspire people to be more aware of leading a healthy life.

    Some nice past posts on BikePortland drew parallels between smoking cigarettes and driving in/breathing around cars, which I was glad to see. This photo sort of contrasts with that platform, but I’m not offended, because I love BikePortland and the healthy debate you inspire. 🙂

    Thanks, everyone.

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  • Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Well, when I hear “ladies” used like this… I think beastie boys, and that’s good. I don’t mind my male friends using the term anymore than I do female freinds… I have pretty much the same kind of relationship with both

    #29 WSBob… what a great quote, I’ll post it again!
    “…women can’t do this because…’ ‘women can’t do that because…’ Repeated ad nauseum, the public collectively starts to believe it. Until, that is, some gutsy personality comes along thinking…’Oh yeah?’.”

    “So that’s what that photo is of. The type of personality that says…I can drive horses…I can drive cars…I can ride a bike just fine wearing a short dress. Takes awhile for many of the rest to see there might be a good idea in there…”

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  • gabriel amadeus March 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Don’t listen to the ninnies, Jonathan. The photograph accurately portrays a Portland cyclist.

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  • lacorota March 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    She’s Smoking, and smokin’ hot. Ice Cold Beer; Red Hot (Smokin’) Women.

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  • world naked bike rider March 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I am never visiting this site again because by depicting this “lady” with her clothes on you were clearly targeting naked bike riders and saying we aren’t good enough, we aren’t proper. Until you publish only stories about naked people on bikes I refuse to read anything you have to say you discriminatory bastard.

    Seriously though, people are idiot’s, I’d write more but I have to find my lighter, I need a smoke.

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  • John Russell (jr98664) March 22, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I’ll admit to smoking a nice cigar while cycling on my morning commute. Nothing to see here…

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  • wsbob March 22, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    “…And I really do hate getting to work all sweaty and hot, it’s a long, nasty ride. So I admit that helmet hair is an issue for me.” pixiestyx #38

    pixiestyx…I have to admit that for some reason, it’s been hard for me to understand the ‘helmet hair’ issue. Your remark, mentioning the sweat and hair together kind of made it register somehow.

    Actually, all I have to do is think of and look at my own head to get a grasp of the problem first hand. I keep it fairly short…3-4 inches long. Fits under the helmet just fine.

    Growing it out much, much longer like many people do theirs would leave me with something on the order of a humanoid Eastern Oregon sagebrush atop my head to stuff inside the bike helmet. Even with the best helmet vents on the planet, there’s no way that isn’t going to make for a hot and sweaty head.

    Any girl..woman…womyn…lady…chick (sorry, take your pick…at this point I’m not sure which word is going leave everybody comfortable)with hair anything like mine…and I see a lot of them that do…has my complete sympathy on the helmet issue. Any helmet manufacturer that can design a helmet for biking that functionally and attractively addresses the matted hair sweat effect problem stands to make an extraordinary fortune.

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  • Eileen March 23, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Speaking as a mother of a boy and a girl and a teacher, I have observed that the self-preservation gene is much stronger in women. Of course you can always find counter-examples and of course I haven’t actually documented this scientifically so don’t jump all over me. But, in general, female humans are much less likely to engage in behavior that might cause them to get hurt. Male humans on the other hand, seem to think getting hurt is kind of fun and even after repeated injuries, will continue the same activity. And you DO realize that the majority of commenters on this page do NOT represent a cross-section of the general population but are mostly people who are already avid cyclists and are friendly with other avid cyclists.

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  • Kt March 23, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I find the debate over JM’s picture choice to be pointless at best– shouldn’t we be talking about just WHY the female of the species H. Sap. Sap. is considered an indicator for the health of a transportation system?

    It seems like we’re discussing semantics instead of discussing more important issues because– it’s easier to discuss “ladies” vs any other moniker and smoking vs not smoking and helmet use. There are clear-cut sides and opinions and answers for those discussions.

    As a female cyclist, my concerns are probably similar to other cyclists’ concerns, male or female: safety, connectivity, how much stuff do I have to do today, how’s the weather, do I need to haul a bunch of stuff places, etc. Arriving at work sweaty and red-faced doesn’t bother me so much, there’s a shower here and the flush will fade with time. Helmet-hair doesn’t bother me too much, most of the time I keep my hair short enough that I don’t need products and hair dryer etc to make it look nice.

    I found the survey to be interesting, and when I came upon a question that didn’t have my answer I clicked “other” and typed up what I thought.

    By reaching out to other cyclists, this survey probably is biased towards people who already ride; there needs to be a way to get this survey out to a wider audience so the sample size is sufficient to give good data.

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  • AaronF March 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Those boots had better not be real leather.

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  • lacorota March 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Where’s the ten-gallon hat, spurs, and branding iron (ouch!)?

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  • Anonymous March 25, 2010 at 10:49 am

    doing things that cause an adrenalin rush (esp when you survive it with only scrapes) make you want to jump up and do it again, whatever your gender. Little girls probably don’t get enough opportunity to experience that. Heck, little boys hardly get to these days.

    ~ yours truly… 55 year old gramma

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  • […] Via BikePortland.org: Hey ladies, this survey’s for you! […]

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  • Pete March 25, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Jonathan (#46): Stereotypes exist because they’re often statistically backed. I’ve ridden nearly daily in several US cities and see mostly 1) middle-aged lycra- or kit-clad male roadies, 2) older gentlemen on flat-bar commuters, or 3) helmetless oft-unkempt guys riding cheap 26ers on sidewalks. I live in the SF bay area now and there are more female riders here than anywhere else I’ve lived, but the only skirts on bikes I’ve seen have been in pictures on bikeportland. And very, very few smokers. Kudos for selecting a picture that blows the stereotypes away! No apologies necessary – if it didn’t elicit this many comments then you should be concerned about your editorial choice.

    And “womyn”, I’d bet a paycheck that Jonathan would have to go out of his way to make “gentlemen” offend someone.

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