Which state will be first? Stay tuned as I kick off my “What’s Great in 50 States” for women Traveling at the Speed of Bike.
Note — I decided to do this because:
(1) I don’t think anyone else is doing it;
(2) The League of American Bicyclists (which serves as a terrific central resource for so much bike-related information) seems to have abandoned its women-focused microsite in 2015;
(3) I was not selected for the Obama Foundation Fellowship’s first class, where I planned to (a) do a review of best practices and available programs and materials nationwide targeted to encouraging girls and women to ride bikes; (b) partner with organizations doing this work to identify and address any gaps; and (c) develop and implement a communications, education, and advocacy strategy to accelerate change in female bike ridership numbers in the United States*. I’ve decided to persist anyway.
Ultimately, I would like to help girls and women around the world (see my next-steps for that here). I’ll offer a snippet of my findings on this blog for free, and you can gain access to additional exclusive insights on my new Patreon site.
* The transformation of cities all across the United States into bike-friendly communities where public spaces (roads) are safe and accessible by all is one of the fastest infrastructure changes to happen in our country’s history. This is not a fringe issue. This affects every man, woman, and child of every race, heritage, and socio-economic level in the United States in some way or another every single day, whether or not they actually ever ride a bike.
Its far-reaching impact includes improved job opportunities as more people can get to more places of employment, a surge in entrepreneurialism to meet the needs of those traveling on bike, reduced air pollution, enhanced public health for all ages, more robust civic engagement, tighter community bonds, reduced motor vehicle speed resulting in increased safety for those using all modes of transportation, improved ability to learn, and increased local spending as bike riders shop more often and spend more money locally than those in cars.
Women stand to benefit the most as bikes help them reduce street harassment, gain access to unsafe-to-walk areas, save on transportation costs, and gain physical and mental strength and independence (just as they did 100 years ago when women first rode to freedom on bikes).
Fun facts: Women represent 50% of our population and make 80% of all consumer spending decisions. What’s more, they are 70% more likely to make enviromentally-conscious choices when able to do so. Plus, women have a significant influence on the health and habits of their children and thus they have a ripple effect for generations to come. However, women are grossly underrepresented in bike ridership right now (due to known and fixable reasons), as well as in local, state, and federal leadership where infrastructure policy, design and spending decisions are being made.