Martha Williams started riding a bike in earnest about eight years ago, motivated in part by her desire to avoid the often chaotic and smelly Chicago Avenue bus. She noticed she wasn’t alone: over the years she saw more and more cyclists on the street, even in the depths of winter, and many of them were riding in their everyday clothes rather than high-tech bike gear.
Inspired by the two-wheeled fashion show, as well as a Scientific American article about women cyclists’ role as an “indicator species” of a bike-friendly city, she recently launched Bike Fancy, a blog devoted to images of stylish cyclists in Chicago. Williams, a photographer and the associate photo editor at Time Out Chicago, snaps the occasional shot on the street of anonymous cyclists, but the majority of the images are from informal photo shoots that she arranges through local bike websites like the Chainlink and Let’s Go Ride a Bike.
By featuring women, Williams hopes to highlight the female presence in the cycling community and to point out the ease of incorporating cycling into the urban lifestyle. “I think there is something to seeing other women, seeing them dress up on a bike, and saying ‘oh shit, I could do that,'” she says. And although the weather here is occasionally more challenging than in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where cycling is seamlessly incorporated into everyday life, “it’s not like you’re going to sweat through your clothes if you’re riding 10 minutes to the bar. . . . There are elements of the European style of cycling that are definitely doable in Chicago.”