Living Car-Free in LA #2: Riding in Style

California, Living Car-Free
Jessie Holzer

by Jessie Holzer, Planner, Alta Planning + Design

“At least you’re not wearing flip-flops!” I heard someone say from behind me as I waited for the green light on my way to work. I turned around and it was a fellow bicyclist stopped at the intersection. As I looked down at my boots he elaborated on his previous statement. “Girls like to ride bikes in flip-flops. It’s so dangerous!”

LA Bicyclist Fashion

Riding in flip-flops

While I agree that sandals are not the best choice in footwear for bicycling, I was surprised by his statement. I had carefully chosen these boots because they are good for riding! These boots are tall so my pants don’t get caught in my chain, they have a sturdy sole so as to not put pressure on the bottom of my feet when I pedal, and they are lightweight, thus not stifling me during my evening commute after the day has gotten hotter.

Not owning a car means that I often use my bicycle to get around to meetings, social events, and other activities that warrant nicer clothing. Therefore, when I’m commuting by bicycle I am not usually in gym clothes, Lycra, or other athletic attire – I’m in dresses, slacks, blazers, and what I deem an appropriate shoe. Sure, I spend a little more time picking out my clothing since I have to determine how well I can ride in it, but it is important to me to show others that being a “bicyclist” doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on gear and ride 100 miles every weekend. There are different types of bicycling and people should ride in whatever makes them feel comfortable and safe (within reason, of course).

I firmly believe that setting an example is a huge contributor to changing behavior. When people see others acting in a certain way, they are more likely to consider it an option for themselves. In this case, seeing me riding in a dress and boots might be motivating for others, especially women, thinking about getting on a bike. Demonstrating to others that bicycling for transportation can be easy and convenient helps break down barriers that lead people to choose not to ride in the first place.

Read the rest of the “Living Car-Free in LA” series:
#1 Community
#3 Making the Choice
#4 A Little Perspective
#5 Impacting Relationships
#6 Social events


2 thoughts on “Living Car-Free in LA #2: Riding in Style

  1. I don’t think flip flops are dangerous. Look at Copenhagen. That’s all most people wear during the summer. I wear them sometimes too. I think we need to move away from certain clothing is acceptable for just the simple act of riding a bicycle. People should wear what they have already in their closet and what they find comfortable.

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