More Women on Bikes Means Safer Streets
We have seen some positive come out of this time of pandemic and social unrest.
More people are getting on bicycles.
Importantly, more women are on bikes.
The media has finally been more conscious of including women of color in their cycling adventures.
And we’re learning about groups of women around the world who are bringing awareness to women’s cycling.
Women on bicycles have to face the usual gauntlet of vehicles crowding their place in traffic.
Plus they deal with the usual harassment all women deal with.
There are brave and powerful women around the world who are working to get more women on bikes.
Rapha100 Celebrates Women’s Cycling with Virtual Ride Sept. 6
This year, obviously, is different.
“Now in its eighth year, the Women’s 100 challenges female riders around the world to come together to ride 100 kilometres. Usually, we undertake this challenge together, sharing the road and the burden as the kilometres tick over en route to our end goal of a century. But this year has not been normal. While some of us are able to ride outside in groups once again, many of us, by choice or necessity, are still riding solo. But all is not lost.”
The Rapha100 posted a series of courses that can be done solo and recorded on Strava or in groups.
The home page also provides advice on how to create your own routes.
Filipinas Brave Traffic, Harassment to Commute By Bike
When the Philippines was locked down and public transportation ended, many Filipino women faced down the usual challenges of women riding bikes to begin commuting to work by bicycle.
To get more women on bikes and to offer a safe place for questions and discussions, one woman created a Facebook page for women bicycle commuters.
“The page currently has over 3,500 followers since its conception last June and has become an enclave for Filipinas to share their challenges and milestones in bike commuting, and encourage and be encouraged to try out biking,” according to an article in Inquirer.net
Due to the pandemic, these women cyclists found that bicycle commuting helped their sleep, improved their ability to deal with pandemic anxiety, and helped get them to work on time and in better spirits.
“Everybody experiences that, you get scared at first, but as time passes you build up your confidence. They won’t know until they try it out. They can start first on streets in their neighborhood then eventually they’ll go out on the road.”– Divine Campos
Afghan Women Brave Harassment in Kabul to Get More Women on Bikes
Many women face some kind of harassment in daily life.
But in Afghanistan, the male-dominated culture limits education, employment, and public appearances.
Since the end of Taliban rule, though, Afghan women still struggle for any sense of equality.
And because cycling is so public, women on bikes get a greater level of harassment, to the point where male cyclists accompany women’s group rides for safety.
Women face verbal, even physical harassment and assault on their bikes, even to the point of rock throwing and cars intentionally hitting cyclists.
These Afghan women are brave – and tough. To get more women on bikes, Afghan cyclists are being role models for younger women.
“I always thought to myself, if the rights of men and women are equal, why don’t girls ride bicycles in Afghanistan? And that is why I decided to become a model for many Afghan girls to follow, to challenge the restrictions and start riding bicycles”-Rukhsar Habibzai
Not only do the Afghan women face harassment on the road, they also have to deal with the horrendous traffic in Kabul. They ride at before dawn to avoid much of it, as well as a lack of resources.
Many women share bicycles and wear cast-off clothing and helmets.
“During longer practice sessions, when they have to work on stamina, and time and speed management, the young women find themselves dodging cars, trucks, and cruising security convoys,” according to an article from Reuters.
“We live in a country where riding bicycles is a matter of honour for girls. We make it clear to the new girls interested in joining us that there are many challenges. Only those willing to face these challenges can come and ride bicycles.”-Rukhsar Habibzai
Women Ride Alternative Tour de France to Demand Equality
During past Tours de France, a group of women known as the InternationElles ride the Tour’s route prior to the men in order to bring attention to the disparity between men’s and women’s cycling.
With the pandemic this year, though, women from four different countries are doing the 3,400 kilometers of the Tour as a relay.
And they’ll do it in just four days in their homes on their trainers, according to an article in UK Cycling.
Plus, the five women based in the UK are going to “Everest” a climb in South Wales. Everesting is finding a climb and repeating it until you reach nearly 8,900 meters of elevation – or the height of Mt. Everest.
That means riding up the climb 26 consecutive times.
In one day.
The women demand, among other things, equal pay for pro men and women, equal television exposure, and easier access for women to get started in cycling.
More Women on Bikes Brings Critical Mass
If they feel safe on the streets, there will be more women on bikes.
And if there are more women on bikes, there will be more kids on bikes.
And if there are more women and kids on bikes, cities and towns will have to build more bike infrastructure like protected bike lanes. Cities will re-purpose streets to become bike and pedestrian only.
That’s my hope anyway.
That’s why I’m always encouraging more women to get on bikes.
They can change our world.
If you want to talk about training, learning how to ride more comfortably on the road, or working on your strength or yoga skills, contact me. Let’s talk!