This year's National Bike Summit was a little different for me because it was my first as a Board member of the League of American Bicyclists. I'm so proud to be building a bicycle friendly America! For everyone! And in more ways than one!
I launched Po Campo in 2009 but it wasn't until I was invited to present at the first League of American Bicyclist's Women's Forum in 2012 that I felt like I found my people. A hundred or so women gathered at that event in Long Beach, and we were all talking about how we wanted to get more women bicycling so that they could feel those same feelings of freedom and joy and strength that we all treasured. My presentation was called, "Why We Bike" and I still stand by it.
The next year, in 2013, the Women's Forum became a part of the annual National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. The theme was "Women Mean Business" and it attracted over 350 people from around the country, showcasing women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry and highlighting the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement. I was somewhat aware of what other people were doing, but it was the first time we all got together. The day was the first time that I felt like Po Campo was part of a growing movement.
Then, just a few month's later, the League published the first-of-its kind report "Women on a Roll" about how to get more women riding. I still refer to this report often, and felt like it vindicated my idea that making it easier to carry what you need on and off the bike would get more women to ride, as the report states that the inability to carry more stuff is barrier to bicycling for almost a third of women (32%).
Well, fast forward a few years. The League of American Bicyclists was going through a difficult period; its membership was declining and attendance at the National Bike Summit was steadily dropping. But I still remembered how good it felt to feel like I had finally met my people, a whole big room full of people who talked about bicycling the same way I did and who wanted to Build a Bicycle Friendly America – for Everyone. So when the opportunity came for me to run to be on the Board of Director's, I took it. And I was elected.
Heading into this year's National Bike Summit, I was excited to have Po Campo present in the Pop-Up Shop for the fifth consecutive year, I looked forward to meeting my fellow board members and connecting with our members, and I was excited to take the stage once more – this time with the Pedal Love Culture and Lifestyle Council.
For the conference's opening plenary, Melissa Balmer from Pedal Love invited myself, Monica Garrison of Black Girls Do Bike, Barb Chamberlain formerly of Cascade Bicycle Club now of Washington State DOT, Kit Keller formerly of Association Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, and Timberley Jones of Relay Bikeshare Atlanta to share stories of how bicycling has made lemonade in our lives. What a treat to share a stage with so many inspiring women.
Photo credit: @caitlingiddings
But I think the real highlight for me was Wednesday, traditionally Lobby Day. It was also International Women's Day, and Julie Mallis from Bike Pittsburgh planned a ride. It turned out to be a beautiful day and I had the best time riding around D.C. on the Capital Bikeshare Bike (that's me in the foreground) with some of my new friends. It was one of those times when you think, "Can life get much better than this?".