It’s a barrier that sits between caring about how you look, intrinsically selfish and unworthy but kinda important, and flexing your environmental and physical muscles.
There’s a pile of research on this, such as this fairly recent Guardian article that basically says people don’t bike because ‘roads and drivers are scary’. Valid, in some places, but we’re not in London, and we in Edinburgh are blessed with a brilliant cycle-path network (check out the Bike Station’s innertube map) that often means we don’t have to share our ‘roads’ with drivers. Could it be that we’re more affected by our vanity than we like to think?
Groups promoting the bike week events during the summer asked for folk not to turn up looking like ‘Lycra-clad hobbyists’, in an effort to show that riding a bike is something normal people do, in normal clothing!
So how do you square making a low carbon, health promoting journey with looking presentable when you get to the other end?
Cue Jill Fenton, Operations Manager for the advice centre inEdinburgh, who generally raises the tone by dressing all crisp and fresh and ready for any surprise ministerial visit.
All professional in an-above-the-knee pencil-skirt and patent heels, just the other day she was faced with a transport choice for a meeting a mile or so away. A five minute drive? Two buses? Half-hour walk?
But no! After lowering the easily adjustable saddle, she gamely hops on Changeworks' (greener than) green Brompton, elegantly demonstrating the advantages of the low-slung, step-through frame with no loss of dignity.
“I hope we won’t see your pants!” laughs Evelyn, who works on our waste prevention projects and a regular cyclist with the foresight to have worn trews.
There’s a brief moment of hilarity as Jill ponders how to carry her Orla Kiely tote bag and decides to dangle it from the handlebars where she can keep and eye on it. By the way, not recommended for health and safety’s sake but it’s (relatively) empty, so not likely to throw her off balance. By far preferable to a sporty backpack that would wrinkle the blouse.
Jill’s verdict? “This beats waiting for a bus, and I know I’ll have a parking space!” An endorsement and a shining example of cycle chic.
If you're coming to see us at Changeworks, we're just off the cycle path. Lycra optional, we're not judging. And if you’re looking for transport tips, contact Paul Wilkinson our Sustainable Transport Advisor.
So, have you seen anyone out and about making no compromises? Send us your snaps and we’ll put them in our album and follow up with a showcase of cycle chic on a street near you.