“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.
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 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.