A transport minister has been ridiculed on social media today after telling a House of Commons Select Committee that women cannot commute to bike
Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport made the remark when she appeared before the Transport Committee today to discuss e-scooters.
The gist of her comments was tweeted from the account of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking, its post quickly gaining a flurry of replies.
.@redditchrachel says she is a big fan of cycling, it is fantastic and is great, and it is something that the DfT backs, but it is not right for everybody. Particularly women who are travelling to work wearing a skirt or a dress and not able to shower when they get there.
— APPGCW (@allpartycycling) July 15, 2020
Some came from women who have themselves commuted by bike while wearing skirts, dresses, or whatever takes their fancy – one of the replies coming from Roxanne de Beaux, executive director of Camcycle, the Cambridge cycling campaign group.
I’m a woman, I live in the UK, I cycle to work, to meetings, conferences, events and even to the House of Commons and I wear skirts and dresses all the time! These are four of my favourite cycling skirts. 🚲 👗 #cyclinginskirts #cyclechic #cambridgecyclechic pic.twitter.com/EP1L9E8UIV
— Roxanne DeBeaux (@roxyfromoz) July 15, 2020
I always cycled to work in a skirt/dress sometimes high heels and never needed a shower.
— Ruth Mayorcas (@RuthMayorcas) July 15, 2020
Not even that, you just need a dress about knee length or a belt to tuck it in. On a track bike in heels and a dress (at my friends' wedding). pic.twitter.com/g2CqnZAtMM
— Joan Sherriff (@JoanSherriff) July 15, 2020
Others – such as Coventry’s cycling mayor, Adam Tranter – pointed out that cycling in everyday clothing is something that people in countries such as the Netherlands, which have prioritised cycling including providing safe infrastructure, have done for decades.
In many other countries, the majority of people already cycle in normal clothes, @redditchrachel. Safe cycling infrastructure sees the type of people on bikes greatly diversified, with less need to cycle at high speeds amongst cars and dress up for urban warfare. https://t.co/5Wq5C4f78C pic.twitter.com/UQ6LriwFvw
— Adam Tranter (@adamtranter) July 15, 2020
— Adam Tranter (@adamtranter) July 15, 2020
He wasn’t the only one to mention Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
Doesn't seem to bother Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. pic.twitter.com/ZzDpGNvTYY
— paul gannon (@paulgannonbike) July 15, 2020
The Netherlands and Denmark were referenced in a number of replies.
Quick, someone tell the Dutch and Danish! Skirt-guards, step-through bikes, e-bikes all exist. pic.twitter.com/6qQVZHEmLh
— Emma Worthington (@emma_mp) July 15, 2020
In the Netherlands women cycle more than men. Showers are not needed and any clothing is fine. https://t.co/C4F1lUugK8
— Sean (@SeanCycles) July 15, 2020
Following on from that point, other Twitter users responding to the post highlighted that there needs to be a shift in attitudes in the UK to get away from the cliché of cycling being the domain of people in Lycra riding at speed.
She's right, in that cycling isn't for absolutely everyone. She's completely wrong in her reasoning, which is that of someone who still seems cycling as an athletic pursuit, rather than transport
The Dutch and Danish cycling in normal clothes
— 🚲 Will #BeMoreMike 🇬🇧🇿🇦 (@WilliamNB) July 15, 2020
Need to sort out difference between cycling for sport and cycling for transport and make the latter easy, convenient and safe.
Then worry about dresses - which are fine if shortish or you have a chain guard - for any gender.
— carolynworfolk🚲 (@CarolynWorfolk) July 15, 2020
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.