Biking In Heels: Cycling For Women

I took an awesome (and free!) bike class at the Brooklyn Brainery last month taught by Emily Scott, an avid cyclist with enthusiasm and smarts to boot. We covered everything from proper gear (Isle Jacobse’s great raincoats and a white helmet for increased visibility, for instance) to highest risk situations (like cars making left turns while you’re in a protected bike lane). With Emily’s permission, and in honor of National Bike Month, I share below some of the notes I took and tips that I found most interesting:

For purchasing a bike:

  • What kind of cyclist are you? Commuter? Errands? Recreational?
  • What do you want in a bike? Speed? Lightweight? Ability to carry things? Ability to stay dry? Type of frame (stepthrough or not)? How many gears?
  • No hand breaks = dangerous!
  • To determine the proper frame size, use a chart. Inseam is a more important factor than height. My inseam is 27”, so for my next bike purchase, I should get a 48-50cm frame.
  • You can often “trade up” on craigslist, meaning that when you’re ready for something new, go for it! Your old one will sell.

Be lawfully safe and satisfactorily dry:

  • Wear a helmet.
  • NYC law says that you must have a white light in the front and a red light in the rear.
  • Test brakes before going out.
  • Keep things off your body as much as possible, because it makes you less sweaty. Racks/baskets on the back of the bike or side baskets that fold can help with this.
  • Good temperature management means that you wear 1/3 less clothing than you normally would walking around in that weather. Strip down then you feel yourself getting warm
  • There are solutions out there for butt sweat.

Miscellaneous tips:

  • Think like a car and act like a car, but have the awareness of a pedestrian.
  • Be aware of cyclists behind you. If you’re going to go slower, hang to the right.
  • Draw attention to yourself when needed. Ring a bells. Use your voice. Make eye contact.
  • The best bike shops are where the bike delivery men go. They’re honest and no frills.
  • Keep your purse where you can see it; if you stop at a light, someone can swipe it out of a back basket.
  • 97% of people who died on bike were not wearing a helmet.

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