Not Asking for It

The other day I was biking to work when this happened:


I wouldn’t think anything of it if it happened once. But I’ve noticed my attire seems to prompt certain responses in other road users.


How do I know it’s not just an off day? Because I have the ability to change clothes.

Some days I’m this cyclist:


And later that same evening I might be this cyclist:


I’m called out on my appearance daily as I go about my business on public streets without the cover of a car.


Even “ordinary” attire has drawbacks.


It’s no surprise that most days I find myself dressing to get the reaction I want when I bike. Or at least the most benign reaction.


But no matter what I’m wearing it’s still just me: complex, multi-dimensional, and in awesome shape.

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86 Responses to “Not Asking for It”

  • My rainbow legwarmers are my secret weapon on the road. People LOVE them. It’s funny how many people seek to interact (usually positively) with me when I wear them.

  • Michel Phillips

    Wear something brightly colored for visibility, and comfy because it’s comfy, and don’t overthink it. Haters gonna hate. Might as well be comfy.

  • Love your perspective!!

  • Hehe I identify with formal dress the most when I’m wearing lolita fashion or mori girl.

  • My solution to ‘sporty dress’ is to have a bright artificial flower tucked into my helmet. Three studies have shown that riders who are identifiable as female get marginally better passing distances. I’ll claim any inch I can get.

  • Really you have changed. It used to be that one helmet only and everywhere. Different outfits with different helmets, or even without a helmet? That’s new.

  • Christine Jones

    Very true. Where I live in the fens, I’ve evolved into wearing mainly smart casual with raincoat and fedora because they have to treat me as a middle class middle aged woman rather than some oik who can’t afford a car. Some might see me as some ditsey lady but, like you say “put your phone down and read my hand signal”. I have a massive Dutch bike with a wooden box with flowers on the front, I’m sure having a large front end (as well as a large back end) helps to prevent close passes.

  • Dennis

    Im cyclist but I also drive. When I drive, I treat all cyclist the same. passing at safe distance and speed. regardless of what they wear, gender and age. I do like looking at beautiful women on bikes. i think they are hot! lol!

  • bikeon

    Is there anything positive you can say or is it always complaining about drivers and other bikers (or everything in general).
    – from a biker.

  • FastWayne

    If I use a very bright flashing tail and head light it seems to help keep motorist away, not all. Also they hate my race kit and my fixie attire equally. What works beast to keep away aggressive motorist, is wearing a GoPro on your helmet and reaching for the play button as soon as they pull up next to you and open their pie hole; )

  • Steve

    Nice homophobia slid in there…

  • Erin

    I live in San Francisco, and people are generally unkind to cyclists. I’m a dress/skirt cyclist most days and people skim by me making annoyed sounds at how slow I’m driving. Then they feel like dicks when they see my two year old in his front handle seat as they pass me. I don’t think they ever stop to think they shouldn’t be dicks to anyone.

    • Wow that’s really annoying :( sorry you endured such crap. I’m also a dress/skirt cyclist and have ridden around SF as well but for me it depends on the style of dress and how -really- dressed up I am.

  • beth

    yes, but why don’t you have on a helmet in all situations?

    • David Huntsman

      Why would she wear a helmet in all situations?

    • Vocus Dwabe

      Perhaps because she’s cycled in continental Europe recently and has noticed that over here only weekend sport-cyclists bother wearing the things (…though admittedly that has a lot to do with segregated cycle tracks being much more common than they are in Britain, the USA or Australia, so the fear of being hit by a motor vehicle is far less).

      Here in the far south of France I wear a hat whenever I’m out on my bike between April and October. While the risk of a head injury is tiny and hypothetical on French country roads, sunstroke or even melanoma are very real hazards. An elderly foreign gentleman wearing a hat and riding a lumbering Scandinavian utility bicycle is always treated with great respect, I find.


    Dear Bikeyface,

    I really have enjoyed your last several philosophical cartoon musings; This one, “Asking For It”, and the previous one, “If I Owned the Road”, are really great and have plenty of thoughts in them!

    (from) Washington, D.C.


      I should have said, “NOT asking for it”, but that is certainly what I meant!

  • glenn murray

    Do you ever get: “I dig your Grand Cru Plume Alare Chainguard”? It’s quite spiffy.

  • Leah

    I live in a college town, so my main issue is pedestrians meandering and texting in campus bike lanes. So I attach a portable iPod speaker to my bike and blast music. With the speaker pointing forward and no headphones blocking my ears, I can hear traffic and everyone can hear me. The songs that have worked best to part crowds thus far are from Pirates of the Caribbean, Doctor Who, and Rachel Bloom.

    • ridonrides

      I also have a portable speaker! I blast rap music. That bass really parts crowds. Nirvana which I think is equally loud and great percussion doesn’t work for whatever reason. Nor does pop girly music. I feel a twinge of guilt when expletives are heard around kids.

  • I’d say there is some truth here but it may be different for me and women, or not. I definitely get more respect while commuting when I am not wearing lycra than when I road riding and lycra is the far preferable attire.

  • MikeOnBike

    Flaunt or flout? I suppose it could be both. Somebody who ignores the laws is both defying them AND showing off.

  • Dennis TheBald

    I frequently get passed by all manner of other cyclists, wearing all kinds of getups. Here in North Texas I usually won’t see them again until the next day. But places like Iowa, where there are rolling hills, I will routinely coast past that sub 150 pound person who is pedaling down hill only to have them fly by me on the next up. And yes, I do frequently find myself looking at their derrieres, I bought a ‘bent at least in part to get a better view.

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