The answer is simple – put on a dress and get on your bike. The Dutch don’t let clothing options get in the way of hopping on the saddle. Besides, when your bike is your main mode of transportation, what other choice do you have?
To be fair, I think the bikes themselves make the job of donning a skirt and heels a bit easier. The typical Dutch bicycle is taller than a road bike, this allows for a more upright comfortable position. The most popular style of bicycle for women seems to be the Omafiets, or Grandma’s Bike.
This bike has a step through frame, an upright position, mudguards, a chain cover and a skirt guard which prevents a long skirt or coat from catching in the wheel, or in the gap between the rim and the brakes. My own steed is an Omafiets, although upon writing this post it occured to me that I don’t have a skirt guard. Back in my Portland cycling days, I definitely ripped the bottom edges of a skirt or two while riding my road bike to and from work!
The mud, chain, and skirt guards help keep the rider clean and dry. The result is that you need nothing other than your regular clothes to get to where you are going. In fact the only people I ever see here wearing lycra riding gear are on road bikes and generally out for a longer more fitness related ride.
Oh! Did I forget to mention about helmets? Lack there of I should say. You never have to worry about messing up your hairdo for work or a night out. Not even the kiddos wear helmets! Drivers and cyclist work together and everyone respects one another. Unlike in Portland where you get called expletives while you’re riding in the bike lane, following all the rules, and minding your own business… You know I nearly forgot, but during the three or so years I was riding all over Portland, I was (seriously) nearly killed at least four times. Once a bus trapped me between him and the extra tall curb. Thank God my feet and pedals were above the edge of the curb or my feet would have been crushed.
I digress, back to clothes…not all bike riders are cute ladies in cute dresses!
And then there is footwear. So far I haven’t see any limitations there either. From heeled boots, to sandals, to fancy leather mens shoes. As long as it fits on the pedal, you’re good to go! So far I have ridden in: rain boots, heeled leather boots, Birkenstocks and sneakers. I actually find it preferable to bike in uncomfortable shoes rather than walk in them!
When I asked a “real life Dutch person” what she wears to cycle in, she responded – “Hahaha yeah we just wear our regular clothes (and definitely no helmets:p). Cycling in your short dress or skirt, always a challenge not to let everybody see your underwear. Sometimes, only soooometimes we wear special rain clothes, but we rather not:p”
As for me, I have taken to wearing spanx shorts or leggings under my dresses and skirts. In fact, I would say showing off your undercarriage is the only deterrent from wearing a skirt while on the bike. Another local said “most of the time i wear pants. Because when i where a dress or something it feels like People can see everything between my legs haha. And a long jacket is also a little bit annoying because the seat gets stuck in the back of the coat. But other than that, just the normal clothes.”
Well I hope that clears up any mysteries about how women dress while riding a bicycle here in the Netherlands! Until next time…doei!