Quick Release: WABA Blog Front Page

Author Archive

Bicycling and Gender-Based Street Harassment: A Recap

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwI This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These tips certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

Street Harassment

Last month, Women & Bicycles teamed up with Collective Action for Safe Spaces to host a two-hour workshop about street harassments. Attendees were given a safe space in which to share stories and experiences, and CASS affiliates were on hand to demonstrate empowering response tactics. The event was covered by the Washington Post and Elevation DC. See some excerpts below.

From The Post‘s “How Should Bicyclists Handle Street Harassment? D.C. Area Groups Teach Empowerment Tactics” (from Nov. 29):

“As a woman, I’m constantly operating with the low-level fear that any man might attack me,” said Kate, a resident of the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast Washington, who asked that her last name not be used because of safety concerns.

Once, a male cyclist pulled up alongside her on the C&O Canal towpath, presumably thinking she wanted company. He asked her to stop because he needed to urinate — not in the bushes, but on the trail, exposing himself for anyone to see. She sped away, but he chased her down. He asked her out; she declined.

“A lot of women start biking because it is empowering, but also because they can just get away from a situation,” said Zosia Sztykowski, 28, of Columbia Heights, the lead outreach coordinator for CASS, a grassroots organization dedicated to building awareness and ending sexual assault and harassment on the streets. The organization produces a blog that curates women’s experiences with street harassment. “A lot of people think street harassment happens just to them and that they’re alone,” she said.

Workshop participants were asked in an online survey about their experiences with street harassment and public transportation. “The most frequent type of street harassment seems to be having someone from a car or sidewalk shout rude and disrespectful things at you,” whether the victim’s on a bike or a pedestrian, one person said. A CASS study in May found that 90 percent of women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had experienced some form of harassment while biking.

 

SH Workshop

From Elevation DC’s “Fighting for Safer Streets for Women Bike Commuters” (Nov. 26):

For Nelle Pierson, like many women in D.C., the decision to become a bike commuter was partly for safety.

“For me, I feel infinitely better on a bike than I do on foot,” Pierson, the outreach and programs coordinator for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), tells Elevation DC. “There are streets I avoid on foot that I’d bike through in a heartbeat.”

Even so, Pierson has been catcalled on her bike too many times to count. And so on November 20 at the Mt. Pleasant Library, along with Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), an organization that aims to end public sexual harassment in D.C., Pierson helped put on a workshop geared toward helping women cyclists in the district feel safer on the streets.

“The environment around a perpetrator can make a difference. It has the power, over time, to change culture.”
According to WABA, women only comprise a quarter of cyclists in D.C. Pierson says that in a survey of 49 women distributed by WABA before the event, more than two thirds said they have experienced street harassment while biking. Many women are harassed at least once a week. But 41 percent surveyed say there’s no safer mode of transportation in the city.

Women & Bicycles Tip: Add These to Your Shelves

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwI This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These tips certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

Recently, we posed this question to the WABA staff: “What books have enriched your understanding of the power of bikes and your approach to bike advocacy?”

Here are some titles we heard in response. They’re a well-rounded look at planning and advocacy for the curious reader, and could make for great holiday gifts! That said, this list is in no way comprehensive. Do you have a favorite urban studies, planning, or bike-related book? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter (or leave a comment on this post).

Bike-blog-Books-and-bicyc-003

Asphalt Nation, Jane Holtz Kay

City Cycling, John Pucher and Ralph Buehler

Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs

Edge City, Joel Garreau

Everyday Bicycling, Elly Blue

High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup

Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler

Pedaling Revolution, Jeff Mapes

Sprawl, Robert Bruegmann

Stir it up, Rinku Sen

Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt

The Third Mode, Jeff Olson

Walkable Cities, Jeff Speck

Walking Home, Ken Greenberg

Women on Wheels, April Streeter

 

Women & Bicycles Tip: Download WABA’s Free Bike App

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwI This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These tips certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

We’ve got a smartphone app. It’s free and available for iPhone and Android. Download it and use it with abandon! You can track crashes, input personal information, and access D.C.’s bike laws. (We hope to add Maryland and Virginia’s laws at some point in the near future.)

It’s been a while since we’ve touted the usefulness of this resource. How about a screenshot tour of the app’s capabilities to remind you why you should use it?

Know who to contact when you’re in a crash.

Bike App

Read the rest of this entry »

Women & Bicycles Tip: Reflect On Your Bicycle

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwI This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These tips certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

The days are shorter, commutes home are darker, and those bike rides are getting a little colder. Let’s talk about staying warm and staying safe. If you haven’t already, check out this cold-weather riding infographic from GoDCGo and BikeArlington.

Click to enlarge

We could all use some simple, low-cost tips on biking through these colder months: How do you layer? How do you protect the extremities? How do you stay flashy?

This week, our focus is on the flashy. Reflectivity is important for all road users, and it’s becoming an trend—sometimes, even fashionable. There’s reflective gear for all kinds of mobile beings, from runners to cyclists to dogs.

Why stay flashy? As vulnerable users of the road, cyclists must do what we can to be most visible. It’s our responsibility to position ourselves in the road properly, use bike lights, and adorn our bodies in vivid, vibrant clothing and accessories to further our visibility powers.

Your local bike shop likely has plenty of high-viz gear in stock. Here are some of our favorite products:

Another affordable approach? Purchase some rolls of reflective tape and go to town.

Here’s what you should aspire to:

Women & Bicycles Tip: Share Your Street Harassment Stories

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. Click here to learn more and get involved.

Most women and woman-identified people have stories about gender-based street harassment experienced while walking—and while riding a bike. Whether it’s cat-calling, pick-up lines, gestures, being followed, grabbed, or even chased down, street harassment is frighteningly common.

If you’re comfortable doing so, we encourage you to share your stories to help grow awareness and shape local initiatives to end street harassment. Submit your experiences to the Collective Action for Safe Spaces website, or tweet them to @safespacesDC.

CASS, a local nonprofit working to end street harassment, wants to know how biking empowers you to navigate the frequent gender-based street harassment women and women-identified people in D.C. experience. According to a study by Stop Street harassment, 69 percent of women in D.C. avoid making eye contact in public because it may lead to street harassment, and 40 percent of women avoid being out alone.

We constantly hear from Women & Bicycles participants about how bicycling makes them feel more safe and in control when it comes to street harassment—but we understand that riding a bike doesn’t erase the potential of street harassment, either. Please read some of the stories CASS has collected so far, and share your own.

Tell CASS your stories about bicycling and street harassment.

Women & Bicycles’ Yoga Rides, in Photos

This season, the Women & Bicycles program paired up with local yogi Cory Grace to combine appreciations for bicycling and yoga, and to continue sharing the bike love.

After gathering at theYards Park, we rode the scenic loop around the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. It’s a flat, paved trail, with lots of surprises, like the Skate Pavilion, Pirate playground, river overlooks on the new 11th Street bridge, and Kingman Island! Following our rides, Cory Grace treated us to her yoga practice tailored for bicyclists.

Click here to check out Cory’s work, like her upcoming beginner’s workshop, and click here to learn more about our upcoming Women & Bicycles events.

 

Group

See more photos below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Women & Bicycles Tip: Know The Power of Shifting

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

Shifting gears; important for greater comfort, power, and in general for being a more confident bicyclist. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we’re consulting Bicycling magazine to get you shifting like a pro. Want some in-person assistance? Check out a WABA City Cycling class, or ride with us this Sunday!

 

Photo courtesy of Microvector and Bicycling Magazine

Photo courtesy of Microvector and Bicycling

Here’s what Neil Bezdek wrote for Bicycling:

1. The Gears
Most bikes have two or three chainrings in the front and anywhere from 7 to 11 gears, or cogs, in the back. Moving the chain from the smallest rear cog to the largest eases your pedaling effort incrementally. Moving it between the chainrings in the front results in a more noticeable change—pedaling feels easier in a smaller chainring and harder in a bigger one.

2. Shifter Savvy
The left-hand shifter changes the front gears; the one on the right controls gears in back. If you get flustered on the fly, remember: RIGHT = REAR.

3. It’s Okay To…
• Use only the rear cogs and the small or middle front chainring when you’re just getting comfortable on a bike.
• look down to see what gear you’re in.
• shift whenever a more experienced rider does.

4. When to Shift
The reason bikes have gears is so you can pedal (relatively) comfortably no matter what the terrain. Shift to an easier gear on climbs or when you’re riding into the wind. Use a harder gear on flats or if the wind is blowing from behind. When in doubt, shift before the terrain changes. When you shift, ease up on the pedals, especially on hills; if you’re pushing hard, the chain may skip or fall off.

5. Avoid Cross-Chaining 
That means the chain is at an extreme slant, either in the big ring up front and the biggest cog in back, or the small ring up front and the small cog in back. This not only stresses the hardware, but it also limits your options if you need to shift again.

6. Cheat Sheet
For: Uphills and headwinds
Use: Small or middle front chainring + bigger rear cogs

For: Downhills
Use: Large front chainring + a range of rear cogs

For: Flat terrain
Use: Small or middle front chainring + ­smaller rear cogs

We searched the internet high and low for an effective video tutorial on shifting gears, and we came across Ken here from Landry’s Bicycles:

Women & Bicycles Tip: Find a Local Group Ride

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

Crabcake ride 2

Photo courtesy of Karen White

If you’re new to the area, new to bicycling, or want to get more of your friends out on bikes, here are some of the countless group rides in the D.C. metropolitan area. Group rides are an excellent opportunity to get to know a new area, new people, and your bicycle.We crowdsourced our Women & Bicycles forum for group-ride suggestions, and many members gave personal endorsements in addition to general information. Feel free to share your own suggestions!

See the full list below the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Women & Bicycles Tip: Go Intermodal

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

 

This Wednesday, I’m presenting on overview on how you can incorporate other forms of transportation into your bike routine. Intermodal bike trips make your work commute a little shorter, your ride home a little faster, or your rainy day a lot less soggy. Plus, it’s good to have backup transportation options. We’re fortunate to have so many transportation choices in our toolkit (and our region), and it’s all about finding the right tools for the right job.

Park and ride: Bike the last leg of your trip! Pack your bike, drive, and leave your car parked at a nearby Metro station or a friend’s house.

Bike car

Metro: Thanks to a WABA victory, you can take bikes on Metro during non-rush hours, at no additional charge. Metro’s rush hours are from 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. I became a folding bicyclist because thanks to another WABA victory, folded bikes are allowed on Metro cars during all hours of service, and don’t need to be stored in a bag.

Some things to keep in mind: You must use the station elevators, never the escalators. If the train is full, wait for the next. Always give priority to passengers in wheelchairs. Bikes aren’t allowed at the center doors of a train, so find a spot at the front or rear of the Metro train, where you can hold onto the railing and your bike.

If you don’t want to take your bike on the Metro, check to see if your area’s station has bike lockers. Most stations have lockers you can rent for $200 a year. Check out WMATA’s bike page for more information on riding the rails.

Bike Metro

Buses: Buses are a simple option for multi-modal bike commutes throughout the region. Bring your folding bike inside the bus, or store your non-folding bike on the bus’ front bike rack. The process of loading up your bike on the bus rack can be intimidating at first, but all it takes is some practice. Click here for the bestvideo tutorial on bus bike racks.

Bike Bus

Trains: For those who regularly use commuter trains like Amtrak, MARC, or VRE, folding bikes are allowed on all trains in lieu of luggage. On Amtrak and VRE, non-folding bikes can be taken on board if the train has walk-on bicycle service (in certain instances there’s a nominal fee). Be sure to check your chosen rail line’s website before planning your trip for details.

Bicycle on Train

Combining bikes with other forms of transportation certainly isn’t difficult—and it isn’t cheating! It’s a way to fully maximize your time. The choice to make your commute more easy, affordable, and enjoyable is a good choice, and that’s, in part, what biking is about: celebrating good choices.

 

Women & Bicycles Wednesday: An Update On Our Program

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry will appear in the fall edition of RideOn, WABA’s quarterly print newsletter for members. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

We have countless stories and updates to share with you about the Women & Bicycles program: stories of inspirational individuals and groups who are looking for community, individuals simply looking to learn more, and those bringing the benefits of biking to the women in their lives.

Crabcake ride 2

We began planning the program last winter. Since then, you’ve heard that we fully funded it for the year and recruited volunteer Roll Models to lead meetups and mentor women in their lives. We officially launched in March and have hosted over 20 events. We have just as many in the lineup. We created the Women & Bicycles workbook, a tangible resource for women looking to learn more about biking. And through our online forum, we’ve reached 500-plus individuals and have activated a conversation among many new faces (it usually starts with “I’m interested in  biking, where do I begin?”). Most importantly, we’ve brought together women who are looking for a place to get involved and belong, a place to  ask questions, and a place built on enthusiastic support.

That said, the program’s greatest accomplishment so far is the accomplishments of others. The ten women who stepped up to be our program mentors, the Roll Models, are now deeply engaged with their personal approaches to get women in their networks biking. With each Roll Model, we plan a meetup to which Outreach Coordinator Nelle Pierson brings Chipotle burritos, beer, copies of the Women & Bicycles workbook, and facilitated  conversation. The Roll Model brings ten of her friends who are interested in bike mentorship. But to our delight, there’s such a demand for the Women & Bicycles-style meetups and the conversations that take place it’s ranged from 12 friends to 22 friends per meetup.

Meetup Gillian

Meetups have led a number of Roll Models to independently plan and create an outreach approach of their own. Laurie in College Park, who runs Proteus Bicycles, is using the program as a catalyst for a bi-monthly ladies’ night. Liz in Alexandria introduced biking for fun and transportation to 18 of her friends from work and church, and they’re now meeting up regularly to prepare for their church’s annual bike ride. Erin attracted the attention of the Washington Post, and was showcased for her involvement beyond the program. She created an email listserv and started coordinating her own rides and workshops. Angie tailored her meetup to focus on bike maintenance and bicyclist’s rights on the road, and created a dedicated space for friends, particularly LGBQT friends and allies, to learn about bike maintenance. An upcoming meetup is with Gillian in Arlington, who just recently started Arlington’s chapter of Kidical Mass, a regular group ride focused on getting more families biking.

We kicked off the season with a sold-out launch party announcing the fully-funded program, thanks to the 303 people (and counting) who donated and to a $15,000 grant from the League of American Bicyclist’s Women Bike program, plus Chipotle who have deliciously sponsored our Meetups! Then, we scheduled meetups and a handful of bike rides. Rides are fun skillshares for riders of all experience where we tour a new site around town. On Mother’s Day we worked with BikeArlington and Black Women Bike DC to celebrate mothers throughout the world and CycloFemme’s International Women’s Bicycling Day. Emphatic praise is due to the fellas who showed up in support, wearing their favorite sundresses.

Milkshake ride 1

Our events are an effective tool to form informal coalitions—or rather, our informal coalitions are an effective tool to build good events. We’ve brainstormed, co-coordinated, and co-promoted with other organizations like BikeArlington and Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. With the help of Black Women Bike DC and Capital Spokeswomen, we co-hosted, in June, Pedaling Professionally, a public panel with four local professionals and a 100-person audience on women’s bike commuting logistics.

Women & Bicycles buildings the human infrastructure around bicycling. Participants establish fun and supportive connections to make biking more appealing to more and more people. This is evident in conversations taking place in on our Facebook forum, a space that’s both open and insular. The group opens conversations that rarely take place in bike shops, and maybe rarely among close friends. We welcome and celebrate new riders and discuss common areas of concern. We also explore issues that are especially personal and that if left unaddressed may create barriers to becoming a regular bicyclist for some women. We’ve talked about preferred bras, biking and menstruation, best routes, bike-lane chauvinism, personal safety, and street harassment.

Hannah and Zhi

Whether you identify as a woman or not, whether you’re a WABA member or not, whether you ride a bike or not, Women & Bicycles is benefitting you. It brings people together to celebrate an activity that supports personal and community wellness throughout the region. If you aren’t already, we need you to be a Women & Bicycles ally. We need you to ask one woman in your life to check out our program. Share the Facebook group with a colleague or loved one, sign up for and share our bi-weekly bulletins, ride with some friends to one of our bike rides or find out about your local shop’s ride, download our workbook, and learn more for yourself. This program comes from your ideas and your support. Be a Roll Model in your own life.

Encourage more gals in your life to ride a bike. Become a Women & Bicycles Program ally and:

Meetup_ Laurie 2

Switch to our mobile site