Biking Harassment

Photo by Tuaussi via flickr

One of our Twitter followers linked to this article from the Guardian, What is it about a woman on a bike that attracts such unwelcome attention?

Forget modesty: it’s about catcalling.  Unlike Gwladys, I quickly gave up on the idea of biking with a skirt on. A pity really, because the thought of commuting to work wearing light and fluttering fabrics is especially appealing during summer time. But from now on, I’m all about ugly lycra capri pants.

My admission of defeat isn’t about wanting to keep my poise: looking silly isn’t too much of a problem if I am in the midst of a strenuous physical exercise. What made me give up dresses was the never-ending catcalls hurled my way day in, day out. No matter that I was just commuting to work at 8.30am looking dishevelled, or biking through the park on a Sunday afternoon looking nice: if biking on my own, unwelcome remarks were de circonstance. I have heard it all: from builders demanding that I “flash my boobs, love” and older men asking if I had panties on, to teenagers making furtive kissing sounds supposed to suggest appreciation. I even once encountered a pedestrian who, having spotted me cycling from afar in a deserted street, stopped in the middle of a crossroad only to bend down with a huge grin, trying to catch a glimpse of my knickers.  Keep reading

We have received several stories from individuals who have been harassed by a biker but have yet to hear from any folks who have been harassed while biking.  The other day I was talking a friend who told me she has never experienced street harassment while biking around DC and that she actually feels safer if she is on her bike.

How do others feel?  Have you been harassed on your bike in the DC Metro area?

10 responses to “Biking Harassment

  1. Pingback: Harassing women on bikes « Stop Street Harassment!

  2. I’m a guy from Australia and I’ve experienced a lot of abuse from guys in cars while riding my bicycle.

    In Melbourne I’ve had guys yell things like “Get four wheels ya poofta” or “drive a car ya fagot”.

    In Perth I even had a fast food cup full of ice and cola thrown at me while I was riding along.

    Many Australian men seem to use public displays of homophobia to reinforce their heterosexuality and retain approval amongst their mates. The content of this homophobia is nearly always based on a premise that the male victim is homosexual because they’re not presenting the traditional markers of Australian hegemonic masculinity. Which I guess is the case when you compare me riding a bicycle to a group of guys driving (the assumed masculine power of) a V8 Holden Commodore with P plates!

  3. Pingback: Why Female Bikers Get Harassed - The Sexist - Washington City Paper

  4. Pingback: Biking Harassment Part II « Holla Back DC!

  5. yeah, this happens to me every once in a while (i live in mount plez; commute downtown on bicycle). when i started riding in the city, i didn’t know what i was doing, and it showed. male couriers occasionally offered unsolicited advice about how to ride. one fit courier, while dropping me on 15th st, yelled at me to “raise that saddle, baby.”

    these days, the comments usually come when i’m walking or carrying my bike. men occasionally make condescending comments, asking me if i need help or mechanical assistance. other times it’s mildly sexual. once i picked up my road bike and carried it across 14th st; you’d think i’d lifted a refrigerator judging from the “you’re so strong, honey!” comments from the peanut gallery. while walking my bike, the comments sound more like, “hey girl, let me ride your bike,” “how long can you ride,” “do you ride fast,” etc.

    i’d say to avoid comments like these, get on the bike and dust ’em!

  6. Yes, I am often harrassed on my bike in DC. Once on my bike, a driver shouted at me something like, “I’ll ride you like you ride that bike.” I yelled at him to fuck off, and then he swerved at me, running me off the road. It only amounted to a bad fall with some scrapes and bruises, but, as you can imagine, it really freaked me out.
    That was the worst thing that’s happened. Sometimes pedestrains say stuff and I just ride by. I get called a bitch a few times a week by drivers who hate their lives and long commutes.

  7. I often hear “can I get a ride on that thing?”

    One time I yelled back, “Maybe if you lost some weight.”

    I like riding my bike to work in a skirt and the comments I get are comments but they have always been decidedly harmless.

  8. Pingback: Street Harassment Round Up – July 12 « Stop Street Harassment!

  9. Pingback: Women, bikes and harassment | Power Assisted Bikes

  10. Pingback: Women, bikes and harassment | Sustainability In Business

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