Footloose and fancy with not a car in the world

Forget about the peloton of cyclists in tight shorts and jerseys. Celebrate Car-Free Day on Sunday with bike chic.

A new concept of being chic on a saddle will add glamour to the day, which encourages city commuters to give up their private cars for public transport.

"You can always wear a skirt and high heels on a bike," said Chada Wannapong of Bicycle Belles Club of Siam on Facebook.

Her Facebook fanpage features women from around the world in all sorts of fashionable outfits, from skirts to shorts to high heels and ballerina shoes, on their bicycles.

Chada and her friend, Lalita Pingkasan, are part of the Bangkok Bike Chic by Bangkok Bicycle Campaign, and are serious cyclists who will share their techniques at the "Secret to be Chic" workshop, at Museum Siam at 3pm on Sunday.

The event, doubling as a workshop and a cycling trip through the old town, is one of the lifestyle events aimed at spreading the word that cycling isn't all about competitive racing and those tight shorts and tops.

The "GMM Z The Tweed Run Bangkok" event encourages people to cycle in their vintage outfits. The idea is borrowed from the London Tweed Run, but adapted as tweed would be uncomfortable here in the tropics.

"You don't need to wear a 'uniform' to be able to cycle in the city," said Sira Leepipatnavit, a campaigner at Green World Foundation, organiser of Bangkok Bike Chic.

Since many find that a lot of Lycra can be a little embarrassing, Sira said they should be able to "dress to destination" and wear a more comfortable outfit _ one appropriate for where they are heading that day.

It's easier for a man to mount a bicycle in his shirt and trousers, and a business jacket can be packed in the pannier to be worn at the destination. But cycling with a skirt and high heels seems difficult.

However, Chada suggests wearing shorts under a skirt and always setting the seat to the highest position, so the skirt will never be blown by the wind.

A high saddle position is also recommended by professionals to enhance your pedalling power and keep your legs slim.

Meanwhile, the tradition of the Car-Free Day peloton will be maintained by the Thai Cycling for Health Association and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. After huge success last year, drawing more than 12,000 cyclists, this year the event is expected to attract 20,000 cyclists to form the tri-colour Thai national flag, riding from Sanam Luang to the Ratchaprasong intersection.

As the number of cars increased from 7.5 million last year to 8 million in July, the speed of the cars in the city has decreased. Commuters on Ngam Wong Wan Road travelled at an average speed of 36.95kph during rush hour in 2011, but now they move at 24.34kph. Those on Sukhumvit Road travel at 13.15kph, down from 16.16kph two years ago.

To encourage more practical rides in the city, the "Bangkok Bike Chic by Bangkok Bicycle Campaign" photo competition, will be held on Facebook from Sunday to Oct 1.

Take a photo from the Bike Chic campaign. Each photo must be approved by the person or people in it.

The top four photos based on the number of votes will be awarded cycling-related products. Those with more than 100 votes will receive a copy of "Bangkok Bike Map".



BMA's Car-Free Day 2013 badge can be used as a day pass throughout the city and greater Bangkok, on the Chao Phraya River boat, BMTA buses, BRT buses, Airport Rail Link, BTS, MRT, streetcars at Rattanakosin old town square and Pun Pun Bike Share on Sunday, from 6am to 12am.

The badge is available at district offices, Pun Pun booths, KTB headquarters and bicycle shops citywide. The profit from the sale of badges will be donated to the Chaipattana Foundation.


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About the author

Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai
Position: Reporter