Yesterday a woman I work with told me “Ya know, pink doesn’t go with red.” I was asking her to do a traffic study of the new S. 2nd complete street makeover when she offered this bit of fashion advice. I was wearing a light pink dress shirt; a red gingham tie; a red, white and gray cardigan sweater and gray slacks. Now I’m no Sartorialist, but I do think about what I wear. I forgot about the comment and went about my day. During the day, outside of work, at least 5 different people gave me props on my outfit:“When I saw you roll up on your bike, in that outfit, I told the photographer to get a photo of you.” “Nice cap” “Cool look, you ride a bike dressed like that?” “You are the coolest person here.” “Hey, you on the bike, great outfit.”
Now I’m not telling you all this to blow my own horn or prove my coworkers have no fashion sense. I am saying it because how we dress when we bike does have an impact on people. If you dress well, motorists seem to give me a bit more respect on the road. I get crowded less and noticed more often. Maybe it is the oddity of seeing someone in Milwaukee wearing something other than super skinny jeans or lycra riding a bike.
Female bike bloggers have been talking about this as the Mary Poppins Effect. Lovely Bicycle and Dottie from Lets Go Ride a Bike have noticed motorists treat them better when they wear dresses. I can’t testify to that, but I certainly have had similar feelings when I wear a particularly noticeable outfit or suit. Maybe it just another shade of how I am treated when I ride in my Santa Suit. Whatever the reason, I think anything we can do to normalize the idea of using bicycles for transportation is a good thing.
Cyclechic, or dressing well while riding a bicycle is certainly trending. Readers Toneih and Michael both sent me emails about the Wall Street Journal article about bicycle fashionistas. Outfits like the one shown in the Wall Street Journal photo may be a bit over the top, but the general cyclechic idea is no fad. It is the embodiment of bicycles as basic transportation in a cosmopolitan urban center.