For the past 20 years or so, the bicycle riding population has moved from mostly kids and young adults to mostly middle age men. The League of American Bicyclists rightly points out that this is not good for the industry or even for those already enjoying cycling. They report:
“In 2009, women accounted for just 24 percent of bicycle trips in the U.S. It’s time for that to change. That’s why the League launched Women Bike — the first national advocacy initiative to encourage, engage and elevate more women bicyclists in the United States.
The popularity of bicycling is skyrocketing nationwide and interest among women is rising, too. More than 80 percent of American women have a positive view of bicyclists and two-thirds think their community would be a better place to live if riding a bike were safer and more comfortable (Princeton Survey Research Associates national poll, September 2012). Still, women are underrepresented as riders and leaders in many aspects of the bicycle movement.”
Coming to California in November is the California by Bike Summit. In support of the drive to get more women on bicycles, they issued the following press release discussing their own specific initiative:
The California by Bike Summit Launches the Women on Bikes California Initiative and Showcases Why Women are Crucial to Mainstreaming the Bike
Sacramento CA – The California Bicycle Coalition’s California by Bike Summit this November 7-10 in Oakland will highlight the important role of women in mainstreaming the bike, not only in California but across the nation, by announcing the creation of the Women on Bikes California initiative. Women key to the nation’s and California’s growth in bike friendliness will participate in the summit including:
Carolyn Szczepanski, Director of Communications and founder of Women Bike program at the League of American Bicyclists
Alexis Lantz, Chair of the Board of the California Bicycle Coalition
Renee Rivera, Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition
Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Carolyn Szczepanski will announce the new Women on Bikes California initiative on Friday morning with the project director Melissa Balmer.
Carolyn Szczepanski will announce the new Women on Bikes California initiative on Friday morning with the project director Melissa Balmer who is expanding her successful Women on Bikes SoCal project launched in September of 2011 from Long Beach.
“We simply cannot mainstream bicycling in the U.S. if we fail to engage 50 percent of the population,” says Carolyn Szczepanski “Fortunately, there’s tremendous interest and energy among women to tap into the benefits of bicycling and lead the movement in new, innovative and impactful ways. Our groundbreaking national WomenBike program and the ‘Women on a Roll’ report we recently published grew out of a clear recognition that female riders and consumers are a game changer for the bike movement and bike market and was further. The California Bicycle Coalition is at the leading edge of this exciting revolution with the launch of Women on BIkes California.”
The new Women on Bikes California initiative will focus on two goals of CalBike’s plan to triple bicycling by 2020: 1) mainstreaming bicycling in California culture; and 2) supporting the development of complete bikeway networks that conveniently connect people to their destinations with safe routes protected from high-speed car traffic.
The initiative will bring a creative twist to mainstreaming bicycling with a storytelling approach highlighted in their new website www.pedallove.org. Personally engaging stories, captivating original photography, photo essays, and an upcoming series of “Pedal Love” videos will showcase the bike as a tool for optimism and illustrate how ordinary Californians are making extraordinary changes to their lives by bike. The growing array of voices on the site already features eight talented women from diverse backgrounds ranging from age 25 to 60.
“Something is very wrong if men are able to avail themselves of bicycling for transportation at a rate three times that of women.” Says Dave Snyder, Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition. “The Women on Bikes California initiative will help to close that gender gap and create widespread recognition that bicycling is good for us as individuals, for our families, and communities for reasons of health, economy, convenience and happiness. This will help all Californians embrace bicycling as part of our culture and our goal of tripling bicycling in California by 2020.”
To raise the skill sets, visibility and connectivity of women passionate about being on the forefront of the active living conversation, Women on Bikes California will host a series of new media + leadership trainings called “Active Living Plugged In.” These new trainings are focused at cultivating the talent pool and opportunity for women looking to excel as champion communicators and leaders of active living in California in the new media age. The trainings will also hope to spark cross collaboration opportunities for innovative projects, programs and strategies with California’s bike industry, other active living industries, health, technology, tourism, entertainment and design fields. The the first two trainings are slated for Long Beach and Silicon Valley within the first half of 2014.
The History of Women on Bikes California
Women on Bikes California grew out Women on Bikes SoCal project launched in September of 2011 under the Long Beach based bicycle advocacy group Bikeable Communities. Women on Bikes SoCal hosted the very first “female only” bicycle instructor training scholarship for women utilizing the League of American Bicyclists program. Women on Bikes SoCal’s advocacy efforts, its creative team and original photography were featured in a variety of media including Bicycle Retailer, Bicycling Magazine, CNN Blogs, KABC Channel 7 news, KCAL 9 News, LA Observed, Los Angeles Magazine, Momentum Magazine, The Press Telegram, Refinery 29 and more. To learn more go to www.pedallove.org.