With the League of American Bicyclist’s National Bike Summit on the horizon (March 7-9), we’ve got bicycle advocacy on the brain right now. Organizations across the country are doing amazing things to get more women riding in their communities, and by sharing a few with you we hope you’ll be inspired to investigate what is going on in your own town!
View from the stage at the Women's Forum
The first day of the National Bike Summit is the Women’s Forum. Our founder Maria Boustead spoke at the very first one back in 2013 about “Why We Bike”, and we’ve continued to be an exhibitor at their one-of-a-kind women bike entrepreneur Pop-Up shop ever since.
We look forward to participating in the Women’s Forum each year because we leave so inspired about all the amazing things that things that bicycle advocacy programs are doing across the country to get more women cycling. We know that women’s participation in cycling is growing (while men’s is decreasing) and we know that women account for the majority of bicycle owners. Yet, women are still only making about 24% of trips (source), so there is still plenty of work to do.
We’ve done a lot of partnerships with bicycle advocacy groups over the years, and have noticed that effective initiatives share a handful of characteristics:
- Roll Models, or peer-to-peer engagement, that help women connect with one another
- Workshops that address a wide variety of topics, from fixing a flat to learning hand signals in traffic
- Rides for everyone, from beginners to experienced levels
Get inspiration from what other communities are doing with a few examples to showcase the breadth of these activities:
Regional Bicycle Advocacy Groups
Chances are your city or town has a group devoted to bicycle advocacy, or at least a group devoted to advocating for non-motorized transportation. Many of these non-profits are building special committees or programs dedicated to growing women ridership in their area.
The Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) Women & Bicycles Program is a particularly good example. Since the program launched in 2013, the Women & Bicycles program addresses the gender imbalance in the city’s bike lanes by offering bi-weekly bike-related skill-sharing workshops, monthly rides, weekly coffee clubs, and mentoring to pair up newbies with biking pros.
Led by Renée Moore, who was profiled in Momentum Magazine last year, WABA’s Women & Bicycles program also features a vibrant Facebook community where people can pose questions, sell gear, and all sorts of things. We partnered with Women & Bicycles last fall for a Po Campo Party fundraiser, which was a ton of fun!
Black Girls Do Bike
Monica Garrison started Blacks Girls Do Bike as a Facebook group back in 2013 when she was looking for a way to connect with women of color who share a passion for cycling. Since then, the group has grown to more than 40 chapters nationwide that organize meet-ups and rides, and offer support, skill-sharing. The group is not only focused on experienced cyclists, but also introducing new people to biking and making sure they have a place where they feel like they belong.
When you follow the Facebook page, you'll want to join the group. Everyone looks like they are having so much fun! As Monica said in this great interview on NPR about how she came up with the idea and how quickly the group grew, “You can’t ride and not have a smile on your face”.
Visit their website to find the chapter nearest you to become involved, and consider attending their first national event in Atlanta on June 11, 2016.
2016 marks the fifth year of the annual Mother's Day Cyclofemme rides. The ride unites riders, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or bicycle preference to share in the joy of cycling. These rides occur around the world and are organized by people like you. Mark your calendar, and keep an eye on their site to see if a ride is already planned for your area, and, if not, won't you consider organizing one?
Do-It-Yourself Bicycle Advocacy Programs
Even if you don’t have the resources to create full programs, compiling links on a website is a great way to start. As an example, Chicago’s The Chainlink recently added a page to their popular website of women’s cycling resources.
The League of American Bicyclists has a whole group devoted to Women Bike. In addition to hosting the Women’s Forum each year, their website has a full list of resources and toolkits to start or complement the bicycle advocacy activity in your community.
We hope you feel inspired to participate in some bicycle advocacy women's programs, and perhaps to start your own. Will we see you at the Bicycle Summit?