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Photo by Rafael Cardenas
Ovarian Psychos Ready to Roll Out
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Photo Courtesy of Lisa Rodriguez
Lisa Rodriguez fixing a bike at Recycle-A-Bicycle in New York City
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Photo by Jonathan Maus
Emily Finch, in Portland, OR, is a car-free inspiration.
Across North America, there are two revolutions afoot.
On a grand scale, bicycling is making a move into the mainstream, from the painting of bike lanes on iconic avenues to the placement of bicycles in all forms of advertising. Look closer, though, and there’s another transformation within the movement itself: Whether avid cyclists or simply bike curious, more and more women are getting engaged.
But we still have a long way to go.
In 2009, women accounted for just 24 percent of all US bike trips - and there’s no silver bullet to propel us to gender equity. That’s why the League of American Bicyclists and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals are hosting the National Women’s Bicycling Summit, on September 13, 2012 in Long Beach, CA. There’s tremendous momentum and energy to get more women riding; we need to harness our collective knowledge, build a network of female leaders and start working on targeted solutions.
How to tackle an issue so broad? At the Summit, six breakout sessions will delve into specific topics including equity, media and youth engagement. In each session, a panel of women leaders will share their work and ideas and, working with participants, will identify action steps to advance women’s participation and leadership. Those ideas will directly inform the work we do at the national level, generating and sharing news resources and information around women’s cycling to achieve our ultimate goal: gender equity on the streets and at al levels of the movement.
Visit bikeleague.org/conferences/women to learn more and register for the Summit. In the meantime, meet just a few of the leaders who will provide their insight and inspiration on the panels:
Media and Marketing: Yolanda Davis-Overstreet, a resident of Los Angeles, is the director and producer of RIDE: In Living Color (rideinlivingcolor.com). “This documentary is my mission to tell the stories of African American cyclists who are part of the fabric of life within diverse communities in California and beyond,” Davis said. “The film and campaign will provide an insiders’ perspective on how cycling in urban American communities is increasing in numbers and participation, both recreationally and professionally.”
Global Inspiration: Leah Missbach Day, the co-founder of World Bicycle Relief, will provide the keynote address. “When addressing global development challenges, a simple, steel, single-speed bicycle can really elevate the dignity and quality of life for women,” Day said. “World Bicycle Relief helps to transform communities and empower girls like Maureen, a young student in Zambia who secured an education - and even found love - thanks to a bicycle.”
Empowering Youth: Lisa Rodriguez is among the many young women who have learned to ride, wrench and become leaders in the movement through programming at Recycle-A-Bicycle in New York City. “It’s been five years since my introduction to R-A-B and in that time, I’ve repaired thousands of bicycles, led bike rides for hundreds of kids, and I teach bike mechanics to teenagers - that sometimes remind me of me,” Rodriguez said. “I have learned that every bike has a story. Everyday, these old bicycles teach me something new, as long as I’m willing to listen.”
Equity and Diversity: The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade is a Latina crew based in East LA - but their bold efforts have inspired women across the country. Their mission and vision are a roadmap for the movement: “We are an all-womyn bicycle brigade cycling for the purpose of healing our communities physically, emotionally, and spiritually by addressing pertinent issues through cycling. We envision a world where women of color are change agents who create and maintain holistic health within themselves and in their respective communities for present and future generations.”
Car-Free and Car-Light Families: More than 10 percent of households in the largest US cities don’t have access to a private vehicle. And American women are twice as likely as men to pick up or drop off children during their commute. Emily Finch, in Portland, OR, is a car-free inspiration. A mom of six, she traded in her nine-passenger Suburban for a seven-passenger Bakfiets cargo bike two years ago - and hasn’t looked back.