A guest post by Camilla Needham from Beca, inspired by her experiences during the Auckland Bike Challenge in February.

This is for the ladies out there. Did you know we are currently very under-represented in the urban cycling stats? Three quarters of people who cycle to work in New Zealand are men. It’s time to change these figures!

Here are my tips based on my own personal journey to cycle commuting awesomeness. I hope this helps you get over the ‘can’t be bothered’, ‘too hard’, ‘I’m too busy’, ‘it’s not safe’ valley of reasons that have been holding you back until now.

1. You don’t need to cycle every day to reap the benefits.

Try it just once a week. My personal goal is twice a week, and sometimes I only manage once, but you know what? That car-free day totally rocks.

2. You don’t have to wear Lycra.

I am totally into the concept of cycling in street clothes. Picture this: you arrive at your destination, wearing your work attire, step off your bike, rosy cheeks and fresh as a daisy. Well, that’s my vision and it works some of the time. I wear an under-layer (a light singlet under my dress or top) and shed this when I get to work. Helps keep my outfit for the day fresh.

3. Invest in some gorgeous bike gear.

This will totally inspire you. I use Wiggle to buy cycle shirts and pants; they have free shipping worldwide for orders over 50 pounds. Have a look around online – cycling is becoming uber stylish, and you can get a nice bike bag or a pretty helmet. For more inspiration visit: Beautiful Bike Bags and Bicycle Baskets (both NZ-based) and Bike Pretty.

4. Get a good bike seat.

I changed the standard seat that came with my entry level Merida mountain bike (from Bike Barn) to a more comfy wider one. It made a big difference.

5. You don’t need to wear cycle pants.

Refer No. 4 for why not. I loathe padded bike pants, who wouldn’t ? They cut my legs off mid thigh and really, whose bum looks good with all that extra padding? Err…no-one ?? (Confession: this single issue and my own vanity put me off cycling for longer than I care to admit).

6. Invest in some dry shampoo.

Let’s face it, hair washing is a time-consuming pain, and this stuff lets me have a quick refresh after a bike ride, (a blast with a hairdryer helps too). I use Batiste products, available at Countdown and Farmers here in NZ.

7. Cycling with kids is totally doable.

CamillaNeedhamI commute with my (18.5 kg) five year old daughter in a bike seat on the back. We have such adventures! I recommend a seat on the back for ages 3-5 years, although the Weeride and the Dolittle (which go on the front) have also been recommended to be me by friends. I’m now in the process of getting a trailer bike, to see us through the stage before she is confident to ride her own bike.

8. Wear bike lights front and rear, flashing, DAY and NIGHT.

It’s all about being as visible as possible. In my opinion, good lights are effective at making cyclists stand out.

9. Safety in numbers.

The evidence is growing that urban cycling becomes safer the more people who do it, as it helps to raise everyone’s awareness. So join us and consequently help to make our roads safer for cyclists.

10. Research, research, research.

There are so many amazing online resources. Check out this page for more awesome tips and advice. Good luck, ladies! See you out there!

Article republished with Camilla’s permission from Beca’s Ignite Your Thinking (check out the great discussion thread over there, too). 

Getting to Work
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2 responses to “Guest Post: 10 Tips for Women New to Bike Commuting

  1. All in favour of this, except for the daytime flashing lights point. Flashing lights when not absolutely necessaty are a distraction & a menace. They draw the eye, which is good for the cyclist, but bad for everyone the distracted driver might hit. I class this sort of safety with “Drive an SUV, it’s much safer!” Safer for you, worse for everyone else; so ultimately, worse for everyone.

  2. +1 for running bike lights during the day. i’ve had almost no scary smidsy incidents with lights running during the day.

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