“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.” — Susan B. Anthony, 1896

Since the Victorian era when bicycles were introduced to women all over the world, it’s had an astounding impact on women’s apparel and their ability to hop on a bike and enjoy life.

 

Though fashion has changed enormously since the Rational Dress Movement was formed to encourage women’s underclothes to weigh no more than 5 pounds and switch out petticoats for bloomers – fashion on a bicycle still remains a hot topic and one that often evokes the question, “how do they ride in that?”

Today we hear from four different women from NYC to SF about the how-to’s and joys of riding your bike in heels. Like learning basic bike handling skills, biking in heels is not on its own dangerous. With a little skill and practice it’s a great way to feel pretty & confident making the bike a perfect compliment to the rest of your life and transportation needs.

Kim Burgas of NYC’s Bike Fancy Ride.

I started riding my bicycle in heels out of a desire to simplify my life.  Urban cycling and commuting for me is about comfort, convenience and minimalism.  Annoyed by having to wear “cycling-friendly” shoes to work and to change into dressy shoes later, I decided a while back to give cycling in heels a go.  One less item I needed to carry in my bag on my back was one less thing I needed to think about in my commute (e.g., where and when I would change into my heels if I were meeting a client — in the lobby or on the street).  Sure enough, cycling in heels felt almost if not the same as cycling in sneakers.  When the foot rests on the pedal, the contact point is on the ball of the foot. Therefore, heels do not affect the general motion or feel of rotating a pedal.

Just as in the corporate world, biking in heels commands (or grants) a certain respect from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, both men and women. I find that I am treated very differently when I cycle in heels, receiving comments from women complimenting my style, thumbs up from motorists lauding my bravery, passing remarks by messengers about my increased street-cred, and the occasional discussion initiated by a suit-clad business man regarding the ease of biking in “business clothing.”  Not surprisingly,  heels make a pointed statement both in a professional environment as well as on the streets.

 

Susi from velojoy:


Pedaling in heels adds a little champagne fizz to a city ride. While I admit that loafers are my favorite footwear, I’ve recently started skipping the shoe-change thing when a business meeting or event calls for a suit or skirt. My habit of toeing my right pedal forward for push-off at traffic signals tends to chew up the top sides of shoes, so I keep the Manolos stowed in the closet in favor of one pair of pretty black leather heels that I’ve set aside just for cycling. Although friends who don’t ride bicycles (but whom I never stop trying to recruit!) express surprise at my footwear, I don’t find riding in heels much different than loafers. In fact, pedaling is a lot easier on one’s feet than walking in heels. In addition, the position of the heel behind the pedal actually seems to boost torque on the stroke. Thus far, the comments that have come my way from motorists have been appreciative and mostly respectful. One guy full-out whistled at an intersection last week; we just looked at each other and laughed.

 

 

Sheryl Yvette from BitchcakesNY

 

 

“Are you really riding in heels?!”

I’m the type of woman that likes to wear heels everyday. When I started riding my bike, I soon realized why not wear them while cycling too? I started off with 3″ heels but quickly realized 4″ were much more comfortable, so now that’s all I wear. I really don’t think it’s a big deal or understand what all the fuss is about, but my choice of footwear generates comments from strangers every time I’m out for a ride.

As for the “How?” – Biking in heels works because you are using the front part of your foot to pedal, so it doesn’t matter that the back of your foot happens to be arched up. The motion is the same regardless of the type of shoe you are wearing.

And as for “Why?” – I have a particular retro glam look, so it’s partly about style. But it’s also about comfort – I’m physically comfortable in heels; but even more importantly, I’m mentally far more comfortable in heels than flats.

I love everything about heels and see no reason I should sacrifice my personal style or comfort just because I happen to be riding a bike.

So yes, I really am riding in heels. And I’m awesome at it.

 

Kristin from VeloVogue:


I bike in heels.

I bike in sneakers.

I bike in skirts.

I bike in long pants.

I bike in shorts.

I bike in dresses (my favorite is Diane Von Furstenburg).

I bike in flip flops.

I could bike barefoot (but I choose not to).

I bike in fishnet stockings (sometimes I rip them, but usually not
when I’m biking).

I bike in whatever piece of clothing I pull from my closet and place on my body.

I bike from head to toe.

I bike whenever I feel like it, wherever I feel like it, wearing
whatever expresses who I am as an individual.

Because that’s who I am – a woman who bikes.

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14 Responses to Biking In Heels :: How We Ride

  1. Maureen says:

    Great reading, great ladies!

  2. MikeS says:

    Women cycling in heels in the European (France & Switzerland — Geneva mostly) cities we’ve biked in is common, though not universal. Men riding in business suits is also common.

    In the countryside, not common.

    Clearly riding in high heels is not a problem for the cyclists.

  3. rocketdog says:

    “Because that’s who I am – a woman who bikes”

    Amen to that!

  4. pezcycling says:

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve truly loved surfing around your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I am hoping you write once more soon!

  5. Em says:

    Ladies, i never thought it was a problem either until i found out that it is, indeed, VERY dangerous to bike in heels. i am a very experienced cyclist, fit and have commuted daily in both dc and sf. about a year ago i fell off my bike and just so happened to catch the heel of a pair of very low-heeled ankle boots (with good rubber soles on the forefoot no less) on the pedal when i bit it. i ended up fracturing multiple bones in my midfoot and had two surgeries over the past year including six months not walking. it was only down to the heel – in any other shoes my foot would have slipped right off. in bike shoes, the stiff sole would have protected my foot from essentially being cracked in half. i feel the same way about shoes now that i do about a helmet – it’s not about looking good it’s about being able to go out and bike the next day. i’m very lucky i can now walk again, but actually ended up on this site becuase i’m searching for suggestions on bike-friendly ballet shoes (preferably with an ankle strap!). i want more women to bike and know that fashion/hair/sweat/shoes are concerns – but PLEASE don’t compromise your health to look cute on a bike, just change when you get there.

    • BR says:

      iF YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN FASHION AND SAFETY, ALWAYS PICK SAFETY, BUT BEFORE YOU DO THAT CONSIDER THAT THERE MAY NOT BE A NEED TO COMPROMISE. hAVE A GOOD LOOKING PAIR OF FLAT SHOES THAT COULD BE A BIT BEAT UP. iF YOU HAVE A RACK, BEFORE LEAVING HOME PUT YOUR HIGH HEEL SHOES ON A PLASTIC BAG AND SECURE THEM TO YOUR RACK WITH A SMALL BUNGEE CORD. SWAP WHEN YOU GET TO YOUR DESTINATION. lEAVE YOUR FLATS/BAG INSIDE YOUR HELMET LOCKED WITH YOUR BIKE.

      bIKING IN HEELS IS CERTAINLY NOT DIFFICULT, sAME GOES FOR WEARING DARK CLOTHES AT NIGHT OR LEAVING THE HELMET BEHIND. nONEOF THOSE THINGS MAKE RIDING ANY HARDER . HOWEVER i PERSONALLY PREFER TO KNOW THAT I AM DOING WHAT i CAN TO BE SAFE, JUST LIKE i DON’T CUT OFF VEHICLES, RIDE ON SIDEWALKS OR BLOW RED LIGHTS. tHERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING. i ADMIT i HAVE RODE IN HEELS TO MEETINGS THAT WERE NEAR MY OFFICE AND VISIT FRIENDS THAT LIVE NEARBY (WITHIN 5 K) AT OFF PEAK TIMES ON ROADS WITH LITTLE TRAFFIC AND i THINK THAT WAS RIGHT FOR ME AND MAY CONTINUE TO DO IT. aND YET, MY RECOMMENDATION TO YOU AND ANYONE i CARE ABOUT IS TO 99% OF THE TIME WEAR COMFORTABLE/VISIBLE CLOTHING THAT IS A PPROPRIATE FOR THE RIDE AND 100% OF THE TIME WEAR A HELMET BECAUSE THT IS SOMETHING THAT REQUIRES MINIMUM EFFORT FROM YOU AND CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE. i WOULD ARGUE THAT BY WEARING APPROPRIATE GEAR YOU ARE DOING MORE TO PROMOTE CYCLING BECAUSE EVERYTIME SOMEONE HAS AN ACCIDETN, FALLS OF A BIKE OR EVEN STUMBLES A LITTLE IN FRONT OF TRAFFIC (EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT HURT) PEAOPLE REMARK ‘ SEE, SHE COULD HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY HURT, THATS WHY i DON’T RIDE A BIKE, IT IS UNSAFE’.

    • Desy says:

      Speaking as someone who yenras to look stylish, but can’t walk in painful high heels, I really appreciate this question!Size firstMy first advice is to simply — and understand that your size can change as you get older, have babies, or gain or lose weight.Consider having your feet measured every time you buy shoes, there’s a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the front of the shoe, to give your toes room to move. For heels, this means you may need to go up a size to get a comfortable fit.Toe tipsPersonally, I try to stick to round-toed heels. While pointy toes can be super sexy, they can wrench your big toe inward, causing joint pain, crunched toes, and even the beginnings of bunions. Meanwhile, round toes allow your toes to lie flat and spread out naturally, which makes for much more comfort. And if you can’t swear off your pointy toes completely? Have some round-toed shoes to alternate with the pointy ones.Also, sometimes the toe isn’t the problem it’s the width of the shoe itself. If you have wide feet, medium-width shoes will feel uncomfortable. When you find a pair of shoes you love, see if they come in a wide width but if not, a shoemaker can usually stretch the shoes to widen the toe box, enhancing the comfort of the shoe.Cushion your tootsiesThe secret to survival is good cushioning — and it’s super likely your shoe doesn’t come with enough. If your shoes don’t have ample padding, consider adding some with a shoe insert. A brand called , a flower-shaped insert that provides great cushioning. (.)Trade offFinally, take the excuse to shop and alternate different pairs of shoes! Wearing heels for many days in a row can make your feet feel abused switch between heels and a low-heeled pair of shoes whenever you can.- Aly Walansky

  6. [...] From everything I have read, you can bike in high heels.  Here’s a great post that has several profiles of women who bike in high heels. [...]

  7. [...] Most the articles I’ve read recommend heels that you can hook over the back of the pedal and not wedges. But I personally love riding in wedges. Check out more tips HERE and HERE. [...]

  8. fixiemama says:

    i have to agree with Em, I certainly wouldn’t ever tell anyone what to wear but personally i don’t feel safe riding my bike in anything except hard sole sneakers. I had a pair of leather ankle boots that I rode to work in for a while but they got stretched out and scratched up. i have a very aggressive and fast riding style – especially on my fixed gear – and my apparel has to stay at that level. Maybe when I get a more mellow ride like most of the ones on this page, i can wear heels when i ride. Cheers :)

  9. Sonia says:

    Why do women who don’t want to wear heels (or “can’t” wear them) always seem to have advice for women who do? If you don’t want to wear them, don’t. We really don’t need your advice about what shoes we wear. We’re grown women, too.
    Lovely blog – thanks! Keep biking, walking and living in your beautiful heels ladies! Enjoy life.

  10. […] if you need to wear heels, take the Bird Wheels advice and pedal with the front part of your foot. Hook your heels behind your pedal to avoid […]

  11. […] The Bird Wheel | Biking In Heels :: How We Ride. […]

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