An interesting article on the attitude of drivers to differently attired cyclists - "a lycra on a drop bar bike" vs "a skirt on an upright bike" 

Last week I mentioned something called the ‘Mary Poppins Effect’.  This is a syndrome encountered only, in my limited observation, by women (or those dressed as women) while riding a bicycle and it means that traffic treats you differently while looking like Mary Poppins (i.e, while wearing a skirt).  It really does! I’ve tried it in all guises.  I’ve ridden my........


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I knew who Boris was, but I had to Google "Boris Bike".

I wonder if routes and destination/purpose of the ride are also a factor - the rides, routes & outfit I choose to take one bike out for can vary dramatically.

I think the author did the same route but my commute doesn't seem to be affected by type of bike or outfit but then maybe I never really look feminine enough for the Mary Poppins effect:)

I've never found it to make any difference what a rider is wearing. From full kit to heels and a dress if you come across an idiot they will still be an idiot.


The concept of "Mary Poppins effect" reinforces a bad stereotype that only pretty women in pretty dresses on pretty sit up and beg bikes deserve to be treated with respect while riding. ALL people regardless of gender or apparel should be treated with respect.

Susan I totally agree with your second paragraph, however, an interesting social experiment to run during the tweed ride perhaps?

Riders at set intervals transit a set course in an area of high mixed traffic interface. (CoS cycleways perhaps) 

Use Men in Tweeds, Ladies in skirts, Men in lycra, Ladies in lycra and a control of Men and Ladies in street clothes. For consistency each rider from each group rides a selection of bikes through the same course.

Include bromptons, uprights, hybrid/urban, drop bar road bike, Fixie/SS and recumbent for a good spread.

The control group would ride the course on a big box BSO.

Each rider would need to be forward and rear camera equipped with mics to record reaction from other road users.

By having each differently clothed group ride each bike type up to five times, you collect data from a random sample of road users each time hopefully minimising the chance of catching the same sample group of road users more than once.

You can set a 1-10 scale for level of reaction, and a similar scale of rating from the cyclist as to how they were made to feel by the reactions they got.


we do what we always do, we subject the theory to the proofs of individual observation and anecdotal evidence in a web forum.


I definitely agree with you season, both on the fact that it makes no difference what a person wears (it hasn't for Fiona, who wears skirts and rides on a nice upright town bike) and that respect is something that we have to seek for all riders.

In fact, I would argue that I get hassled MORE when wearing 'normal' clothes than when I wear lycra/sports clothes (which I usually wear when cycling to work).



It's kind of odd because my memory of Mary Poppins is that she wore quite conservative clothing.  Not a pretty young thing in a skirt. She was a Nanny.
I didn't think it was very lady-like when she floated up in the air.

Or hanging out with chimney sweeps and the like!


Mind you, Dick Van Dyke is not only a ridiculous name, it is also rhyming slang for bike...

Can we at least all agree on how recumbent riders should be treated? :-P
With a more laid-back approach of course.

I've noticed on my recumbent that cars give me a very wide berth... very wide. It could be because it's not your usual 'bent but I like the respect I'm given nonetheless.


On my dutch bike (no helmet) I'm also given a wide berth but when I go out on my road bike (with helmet) I notice a difference in how I'm treated. It's like night and day and my riding position on the road is the same. Interesting.


Note: I don't have a beard or wear sandals ("not that there's anything wrong with that....")


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