This week I’m in South Carolina, enjoying some family time with my sister, her kids and a couple of her kids’ friends. We’re spending a few days at the beach enjoying sun, surf, and pool, complete with lazy river.
And of course people are riding beach cruiser bikes all over the place.
There are plenty of family friendly bike paths, a nice route for me to get a little workout, and then there’s my favorite thing: riding on hard packed sand on the beach at low tide. Bestest is doing this in early morning or at dusk.
I’ve done this a lot— renting beach bikes— and it’s a great way to enjoy fun on two wheels with people who don’t normally ride. So, I called the local bike rental place, which will deliver and pick up bikes. Oh joy!
I called and was doing the transaction when the man on the phone asked, “what are the genders of the people in your party?”
Huh? This is not information that’s needed. Which I told him. He said he wanted to determine which bikes to deliver.
I pointed out that beach bikes don’t have a gender— boys and girls can ride the same bikes. He explained that some bikes were step through.
Right. I had already told him I was a cyclist, and reminded him of this. I said that girls don’t necessarily need step through bikes, and sometimes boys do. I continued to refuse to reveal genders but would tell him their heights. When I said one person was 6’1”, he replied that he’d do a step over for “him”, and step through for the rest. I said I wanted a step over bike too.
Yes, I know I was being grumpy, and it’s not cool to argue with people trying to do their jobs.
And yet— the gender stereotyping of bikes irritates me. It happens all the time, with princess bikes, “shrink and pink” sports gear for women, etc. By the way, my 15 year old niece agrees with me- she just wants a bike. Period.
Yes, there are reasons to pick step through bikes and reasons to pick step over bikes. Gender just isn’t one of those reasons.
Now back to my family fun time!