Once upon a time…
On a sunny summer morning in 2008, there was a Bike To Work Day breakfast put on by the local council. In the sea of commuting cyclists in Wellington’s Civic Square, a handful of women caught each other’s eye – they stood out as unusual in the crowd.
They weren’t men, and weren’t wearing high-vis, lycra or mountain-biking gear! No, they were wearing what they wanted to wear at work that day. Dress shorts, some trousers, a skirt, and one was in a dress.
“Why are there so few of us?” they wondered. “We’re pretty normal ladies, and we enjoy everyday convenience, freedom and even fun getting from A to B on a bike. Why aren’t more women doing this?”
They swapped numbers, kept in touch and did a bit of research.
News flash: Women are different from men!
They discovered the reasons for the dearth of women (and predominance of lycra) in New Zealand’s cycle scene.
There are particular barriers that keep most Kiwi women from jumping on a bike, and some stem from New Zealand’s contemporary “cycle culture”. Traditional cycle advocacy isn’t reaching most “non cyclist” women, and they don’t feel bikes are an option for their day-to-day transport.
It’s a new attitude to the old “A to B”
The women who’d met by chance that sunny morning in Civic Square knew they had found ways to get over these barriers, and that others could do the same.
They resolved to start a group dedicated to helping other women discover the convenience, money, time and freedom and fun of a little cycling in their everyday lives.
They found extra horsepower and skills through Intersect, and set up a not-for-profit, apolitical public good organisation run by volunteers, to hold events and provide services. They started working as complements to established cycle advocacy organisations like CAW and CAN, and innovative cycle advocates running urban cycling blogs.
They called this new thing “Frocks On Bikes”because a frock is the antithesis of what Kiwis tend to think of as “cycle wear”. It’s a great symbol for this new attitude to transport: regular, stylish women choosing bikes as one of the ways we get around everyday.