Sexism on the Bike: A Reader’s Experience

A reader was recently subject to sexist comments while on her bike, here is her story.

Words by: Gwen

As much as I love riding my bike, cycling at rush hour is never fun. One Monday morning a few weeks ago I woke up to glorious sunshine, what was there not to enjoy, I thought as I hopped on the bike to run a couple of errands before work. I was concentrating on all the buses and cars around me when I heard someone shouting.

I turned around to see someone with their head out the passenger window of a white van as it drove past; I realised that the comment was directed towards me, more specifically my backside. This was not the first time I had been shouted at by motorists, which is always quite unsettling, but it was the first time I was subjected to sexist comments (on my bike).

The van was stopped at the lights. I was feeling pretty shaky and felt sure that I would be subjected to more abusive comments if I rode past the van, so I stopped behind it. I cursed myself for leaving my phone at home; on the back of the van were two logos with phone numbers. I was so focused on remembering the names that I didn’t take note of the registration or the make or model of the car.

As the van drove off, the passenger leaned out of the window, turned back, and shouted another string of words, which I didn’t catch. I cycled the rest of the way home, repeating the company names to myself so I wouldn’t forget. I remembered the recent TWC article about a woman whose bottom was smacked while she was on her bike, and the comments about similar experiences. I contacted TWC to ask for advice:

‘Report the incident to the police and write a letter to the company. Nothing much will probably come of it, but it will help make people more aware of this type of situation,’ came the reply.

I was therefore surprised when the police took the incident seriously. One of the first things the constable said was:

‘They would never say something like that to me, so they shouldn’t be saying it to you either.’

He reinforced that if anything like this happened again, to take down the registration and call the police! I would never have thought about calling the police if I hadn’t read the TWC article a few weeks earlier!

Two days later, the constable called to tell me that he had contacted the main company about the incident. They were very unhappy about this. The second company were subcontractors, and there was a good chance that they would lose their lucrative contract as a result. The constable had yet to speak to the other company, but would be issuing a warning to the person in question.

I was glad to hear that the matter had been taken seriously, both by the police and the company. At first I thought I was being a petty by reporting to the matter to the police, but I now feel vindicated.

Do you have a similar story? Let us know how you dealt with it in the comments below.

Also worth a read: 

Woman has bottom slapped while out riding

Always ‘Like a Girl’ campaign highlights shocking views towards women and sport 

How to: Get the best road bike for your budget


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