Women who are in like with their bikes
January 24, 2011 11:32 AM   Subscribe

In the summer of 2004 I [Jason Oliver Goodman] set out alone on my bike to make a photography project called A Girl's Bike. In roughly 4 months I documented close to 200 women and their bicycles around NYC, mostly on the street as I found them. In 2008 it was made into a book published by Partners & Spade. It also toured with the Bicycle Film Festival as a slide show before films and in the art show Joy Ride.
posted by fiercecupcake (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
More like "A Girl Who Doesn't Care if She Dies Because of Horrible Head Injury's Bike." I mean, seriously, not a single helmet in the whole thing! (Also, it seems that he only explored certain parts of town, and only photographed women in a certain age range.)

Maybe it's just because it's cold and my own bike has flat tires and I'm without a pump, but: Bah humbug.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:40 AM on January 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Are those big chains many of them carry actually good at preventing theft?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2011

Interesting pictures. I had no idea gorilla hangers were so popular.

Tangentially: Women as Outcasts In Cycling Industry
posted by bonehead at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2011

Personally, I think these photos are great. They epitomise what cycling should be about: freedom & individuality :)
posted by pharm at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2011

I'm surprised at the number of women riding bikes in skirts. That seems like it would be awkward. In a few, the skirts looked they would have been rubbed by the tires.
posted by willnot at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2011

Very true, those shots are like in a 4 block radius, except for the Coney Island one. Those retro ape-hanger bikes with the banana seats are more dangerous than cars here. They are always cruising at like 4 miles an hour, completely silently, listening to their iPods or whatever. It would be faster for them to walk. I once saw a couple cruising down the street very slowly somewhere in park slope, every few feet a bit would fall off the guy's bike, I wonder if he made it home on that thing.

There are certain bars in Brooklyn where 20 people will ride up at on those little bikes at once, I kinda envy them, at least they have a sense of belonging.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:00 PM on January 24, 2011

Rule 34 is in effect.
posted by kcds at 12:07 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Monday, stony Monday: "Are those big chains many of them carry actually good at preventing theft?"

Nothing will prevent a theft, but Kryptonite chains are about the only thing (except for a super shitty beater) that will deter most theft in New York.
posted by wcfields at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2011

This seems mildly sleazy to me. Sorry, but it does. "A Girl's Bike"? Ugh. Next, he should do a calendar – oops, I mean "blog-driven book" – of "girls" posing with their favorite kitchen implements. Maybe I'm being over-sensitive, but at this point I always bristle at "A Girl's..." anything, especially when these "girls" invariably turn out to be hip young women. It's called a "diminutive" for a reason.
posted by koeselitz at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

In the summer of 2004 I [Jason Oliver Goodman] set out alone on my bike

What, alone among all these pretty hipster girls in desolate downtown Manhattan (and Coney Island)? In broad daylight? In connection with a fluff art project/pickup line?

My good sir, you are made of sterner stuff than I! Sooth, I would not venture out into that kind of milieu without five burly legionnaires at my side, and as many on standby at 9th St. Espresso.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:16 PM on January 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

Skirts aren't really that bad when it comes to casual cycling, generally your forward momentum will keep the fabric from truly catching in the spokes or chain. You just need to strike a balance between something short enough to not be constantly whipping into the chain, yet long enough so that you're not flashing your junk at people. Honestly, on a hot summer day, biking around town in a skirt can be quite... refreshing.

And those giant chains? About 10-15 lbs of pure awesome, much more versatile than your average U-lock and typically offer theft insurance up to a couple of grand.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:18 PM on January 24, 2011

Also, women of a certain demographic range in NYC, please stop riding bikes 4 sizes to small for you, you're making my knees hurt.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2011

koeselitz, I thought there was a connection to the childhood taunt of "that's a GIRL'S bike," or being made fun of for riding a girl's bike. (?)
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2011

Microagression! I want to love this because it's about two things that I love - bikes and young women. But I must agree with ocherdraco and koeselitz about the mildly sleazy aspect of it. Right now I own a three-speed Sting Ray with the banned-by-CPSC stick shift which is very much like my childhood bike but I can't imagine riding it for more than a few blocks in flat-as-a-pancake terrain. Using one for transportation just seems goofy. It also is a blog to book deal which makes my head explode for some reason. I also can't help but think that you couldn't give this book away in Europe. They just wouldn't get it.
posted by fixedgear at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2011

i'm all for women on bikes. the more the merrier!

however... i have to ditto ocherdraco on the bag humbug about no helmets shown and the narrow scope of this project. this came across more as a trendy fashion shoot than a realistic take on different women cyclists in the city. what about racers doing loops in the park? what about women cycling clinics up at the kissena velodrome in queens? what about catching us on our daily commute to work? or older women out for a stroll w/ their kids? NYC is all about variety - when it comes to women and cycling there is a much larger range in our city than this.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 12:21 PM on January 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

a blog that I've enjoyed following recently is: Bike Fancy, which is just a series of photos that a photographer is taking of fancy women on bikes. It's been a little more and a little less diverse than this NYC experiment. Most of the riders are white women but their bikes tend to range between fixies, upright hybrids, touring bikes and dutch bikes. The lack of racial diversity might just be because the blogger is taking photos by appointment, so it might just be a reflection of the self-selecting nature of blogrolls, but the variety of bikes and clothing approaches can be neat.

Also, some of them wear helmets.
posted by bl1nk at 12:39 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm surprised at the number of women riding bikes in skirts

I think in this case you might be seeing an example of what statistical theorists call oversexed Brooklynite nerd with a camera bias. It had become the subject of a growing field of study ever since the invention of Flickr.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 12:40 PM on January 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

See also: http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/. Yeah, the Dutch don't wear cycle helmets. Get over it already.
posted by pharm at 12:45 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Copenhagen is not in the Netherlands. Sorry. But the Dutch don't wear helmets either. I do get into fights with other parents because I don't force my children to wear helmets, though.
That said, I was about to post a link to the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog. Somehow, it doesn't have the slightly creepy vibe of A Girls Bike. Maybe because it's more about everyday life?
posted by mumimor at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2011

No one let the Hasidim see this.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:10 PM on January 24, 2011

Nthing Bike Fancy. Funny how different the collection of photos can be when it's a female photographer taking the pictures, eh?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:16 PM on January 24, 2011

Copenhagen is not in the Netherlands. Sigh. Having visited both, you'd think I'd know that wouldn't you. Another case of "failure to engage brain before typing" clearly.
posted by pharm at 1:24 PM on January 24, 2011

Googling "gorilla hangers" brought me the most interesting results.
posted by zzazazz at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2011

They epitomise what cycling should be about: freedom & individuality :)

I thought it was about getting from place to place.
posted by kenko at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ape Hangers = 160,000 results
Gorilla Hangers = 276,000 results

Huh. I always thought they were ape hangers, but some kind of picture hanger is skewing the results.
posted by fixedgear at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2011

So, is adults riding around on kids bikes another one of those trends that have passed me by?
posted by madajb at 2:08 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

How can anyone ride those odd looking small bikes in a city? the ones with the small wheels. I have no idea what you call them, I've only seen them used by kids doing stunts on a skateboarding platform. I can't imagine using them for any stretch longer than going to the bakery round the corner. What's the point? And so many keep their seat so low, ouch... why? why double the effort and pain??

It does look a bit like a fashion shoot, yes, there are some really nice photos in there by all means, but some are a little bit too 'look at me how cool I am'. The ones with that horrid Vice-magazine look.

I love the ones on bikefancy, they do look a lot more spontaneous, like they're not even posing, but were actually caught out on the bike and photographed on the spot. With practical bikes, in practical clothes...

Oh, helmets - no one seems to wear them *anywhere* in Europe. Or?
posted by bitteschoen at 3:00 PM on January 24, 2011

I'm surprised at the number of women riding bikes in skirts. That seems like it would be awkward.
Nah, I do it all the time, and it's fine. People overestimate the extent to which cycling in pretty much any kind of clothes is awkward.

I sort of don't like the whole cycle chic phenomenon, though. I feel like it sort of reinforces an annoying assumption that women on bikes are on display.
posted by craichead at 4:16 PM on January 24, 2011

Hey, you see the wee-little-short-shorts clad crotch at the top of Bike Fancy? The girl in the banner? THAT'S ME. I did the first photo shoot with Martha and I'm the first Bike Fancy entry ever.

Sorry, I'm waaaaaaay too proud of my crotch's internet infamy. I just had to point it out.

Anyway, it's not girls-only, but I've always thought that photographer Wilis Johnson of Milk Money does a really awesome job representing women. They're mixed in with the dudes, because they're just other cyclists. They're not going on cupcake rides in high heels, they're not wearing Hermes on $1,300 Pashleys, they're not striking fake-as-fuck sexy poses on their boyfriend's vintage Italian track bike with their feet clipped in wrong. They're making deliveries and winning alleycats, kicking ass and taking names.

He definitely focuses on a certain slice of the cycling world (track bikes and messengers), and like I said it's not a girl's only blog. But it's totally worth a look.
posted by Juliet Banana at 4:35 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

MeFi's own. <3
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:16 PM on January 24, 2011

Oh, and totally unrelated in every way, but I just came across Brigette Bardot on a bike (good blog, too).
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:52 PM on January 24, 2011

Yeah, I get the feeling that there are a lot of girls in skirts here because that's the kind of girl on a bike (and not the Milk Money kind) that this photographer likes to photograph.
posted by mendel at 5:54 PM on January 24, 2011

MeFi's own.

I thought of her, too.

All the short skirts reminded me of a student employee I once had who would bicycle to work every day in tiny, tiny skirts. It was always fun watching the cars swerve and skid in the intersection when she sailed through wearing not much more than her smile. I was never sure if she knew and liked it, or just didn't care, but she was a genuine hazard for traffic.
posted by Forktine at 6:02 PM on January 24, 2011

I thought it was about getting from place to place.

That too :)
posted by pharm at 1:07 AM on January 25, 2011

hal_c_on: “Welcome to art that isn't restricted to the talented. If you'd like to leave, the off ramp is that switch at the back end of your computer.”

Sexism is the price we have to pay for democratic art? That's an interesting idea.
posted by koeselitz at 7:35 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do get into fights with other parents because I don't force my children to wear helmets, though.

Here in California its not an option: kids on wheels == helmets. A mere 91% of bicycle fatalities occur to helmetless riders: just saying.

It's strange that people won't wear helmets because its not cool or they believe they are inconvenient but have no problem wearing safety glasses or seatbelts -- I myself was of that camp until I realized the inconsistency in my logic. Also that I'd have a hard time justifying to my children that Dad didn't have to wear a helmet for some reason, but they had to. My lid saved my noggin just last Thursday.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:38 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Glad your noggin got saved! Good on you for setting a good example.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2011

Ogre: the vast majority of statistics on road safety have an appalling evidence base and those figures you quote are no exception. They come from the US DoT FARS database, which in turn is collated from police accident reports which are often (usually?) woefully inaccurate.

See Geary RR. Faulty FARS bicycle helmet use data & implications for effectiveness. IP online electronic letters, 29 June 2006 if you have access to BMJ Journals online, for a pile of in depth criticism.
posted by pharm at 5:21 AM on January 26, 2011

Oh wait, here's a link to the letter in question. Unfold the bottom of the three for the full text.
posted by pharm at 5:26 AM on January 26, 2011


downtown from behind
posted by tapesonthefloor at 11:18 AM on February 1, 2011

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