Apparently, there has been some recent brouhaha over a couple of blog posts regarding riding a bike in heels (although this topic comes up frequently outside the confines of these posts). This isn't typically a subject I'd even wander into for a full post, but since I was specifically asked about it, I figured the easiest way to respond is to write it out here. If you're interested in the original posts, they can be found here and here. In the most simplified form (really, reading both posts is a better reflection of the individuals' thoughts) one blogger is tired of hearing about biking in heels and wants to see more work done to get women educated and skilled in regard to fixing their own bikes; and the other is in response to the original post and discusses her belief in riding in heels and taking her bike to a shop to have a flat fixed (or whatever fixes might be needed).
So what are my thoughts? It's interesting that I'd even be asked this question because, frankly, I don't care. Okay, perhaps it isn't so much that I don't care (I care about anything that gets someone on a bicycle), but rather that it seems like a topic that shouldn't even require so much impassioned discussion. If a person likes to ride in heels and skirts, go for it. If a person wants to ride in full team kit everywhere s/he goes, do it. Seriously. I'm not trying to be funny, or even make light of what is obviously an important topic for each of these ladies, but it really doesn't affect me in my every day life. I have ridden my bike dressed to the nines, and I've ridden in some fairly funky (read: stinky), lycra-ridden clothing over the years, and I don't feel like I am any more of or less than any one else, regardless of how I'm dressed. I wear clothes because they cover my body, keep me warm, etc (and because if I rode around nude it would scare a lot of people, and I'd no doubt be arrested for parading around in the buff - since, as far as I know, it is illegal here in these parts). I wear shoes because they provide protection, keep me warm, etc (and I have actually been on a bike without shoes - it wasn't particularly pleasant - but I can't say I'd never do it again, honestly). Yes, I have heels and I also own "bike shoes" and I have used them both (and lots of choices in-between) when the time is appropriate (and sometimes when it was inappropriate - but I'm just that sort of person who doesn't care what anyone else thinks about it).
I think it's awesome to see men and women out riding in their everyday attire. If it is an easier choice than transporting oneself by bike and having to change when s/he reaches his/her stop, of course it makes sense to just wear the clothes that will be worn at the final destination. If a person is more comfortable biking in lycra and wants to change once s/he arrives at the end point, I see nothing wrong with that either. I view all of this as a personal preference, not a matter that should be decided by any person, entity, government, or anyone else.
In regard to women being capable of fixing their flat tires or doing minor repairs to a bike - again, I think this is a matter of personal choice. If an individual rides in areas that there is a means of having problems easily addressed by a bike shop and they are willing to pay for the service, why have issue with this? We are not all skilled in such matters (and I know plenty of dudes out there who take their bikes in to shops for every little repair because they either can't or don't want to do it themselves - so this isn't a gender-based thing for me), and/or we may not have interest in even learning such a skill. If I choose to not learn, it doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to ride a bike.
On the other hand, I also think it's a great idea for every person who rides a bike to at least have a basic knowledge of how things work and can be fixed. As I've stated here many times over, I am one of the least mechanically-skillful people on the planet, so I will be the first in line to have someone else take over such things. However, I also know what to do if I really had to fix something, so hopefully, I won't end up stranded in the middle of nowhere without the means to get myself home. This doesn't mean that every persons situation is the same though and I have no problem or issue with anyone who chooses one option over the other, or any combination of the two ends of the spectrum.
Bottom line: I think any way a person chooses to ride is spectacular (I do take issue at times with those who do things that make it worse for those who follow the rules of the road though - but that has nothing to do with the attire selected for the ride). More people should be out riding a bike and enjoying such a great activity, means of transportation, and/or sport (depending on the way a person rides). We would probably all be a lot less angry and rage-filled on the roads if every individual knew first-hand exactly what it's like to be on the roads with big, sometimes scary, several-ton motorized vehicles. So, while I try not to get caught up in the banter that can take place between (or among) cyclists, it doesn't matter to me what you choose to wear on your ride, nor whether or not you choose to fix your own mechanical issues - just get out there and ride. Life is too short to worry about what others are wearing (or not) or what they are doing (or not). Do what feels right for you - whether that's dressing like a fashionista, like you're riding the next Tour, or somewhere in the broad spectrum in between.