There’s been quite a lot of discussion of late about how to make bike shops and cycling in general more attractive for women, and while I’ve not weighed in to the various discussions until now I thought I’d put in my views.I’m reasonably well qualified to do so. I work in a bike shop and although I’m relatively new to it (two years) it gives me a unique perspective because I can still remember back to when I was a customer of women’s cycling gear.
One of my own issues is actually about the use of the word ‘lady’ instead of my preference for the word ‘woman’. My blog isn’t called ‘Ladies Who Cycle’ and that’s a very deliberate decision on my part. To me the word ‘lady’ is verging on being derogatory because the way in which it is used, often infers that women are inferior when it comes to riding a bike.
Total Women’s Cycling which is a UK-based women’s cycling site recently wrote about a cycling brand that launched a new range of women’s bikes suggesting that women only like to amble along on mountain bikes. Read it for yourself if you want to know more but it’s quite extraordinary. Unsurprisingly the bike range is called ‘MBT Lady’.
It’s great to see that the major brands of bike and gear that produce lots of women’s specific bikes and kit actually use ‘women’ rather than ‘ladies’ in all their communications. However there are major organisations like Wiggle and Assos that persist in using ‘Ladies’. I suppose we shouldn’t expect anything else from a company like Assos that uses promotional photographs like the one shown here. Who are they trying to target????
The League of American Bicyclists produced an interesting report which was published recently and details research that it undertook about what bike shops need to do to attract more women. It’s US research but much of it applies to the Australian market. Interestingly 62 per cent of the female cyclists they surveyed had not visited a bike shop in 2014. If you want to read the whole report you’ll find it here. If you don’t have time to read the whole report then Bicycling magazine published a summary which you can read here.
I also enjoyed reading a great blog post from ‘Bike Shop Girl’ aka Arleigh Jenkins who wrote about how to fix the bike industry. She’s also US-based but much of what she argues is applicable in Australia too. In short, Arleigh says that more business training and professionalism needs to occur in the bike industry and just hiring more women won’t fix the issues.
In summary, for me the Australian bike industry is moving in the right direction and this has been helped by the entry of the large bike manufacturers like Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale and more. They have lifted the professionalism of the industry a couple of notches but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I’d love to here the views of others.