I rolled my little Bike-O machine and chose the first state to cover as we go nationwide to find out what’s great for women riding bikes all over the USA — and I got to go (virtually) to Idaho! First stop, the League of American Bicyclists’ scoreboard (pictured). Looks like Idaho is middle of the pack, with some particularly good things happening (as the League’s detailed scoreboards indicated when I drilled down deeper).
I pretended I was moving there and I:
- Dug into Comprehensive Land Use Plans of multiple cities and transportation master plans for the state;
- Searched a wide variety of terms that took me down rabbit holes where I found clues indicating whether or not a place is conducive to riding bikes as a woman;
- Reached out on social media to find out what’s happening when the rubber hits the road.
However awe-inspiring the Route of the Hiawatha is, the questions I ask are more practical:
- Can you ride safely and easily (with bike parking when you get there) to a supermarket or city hall? Do you see other women Traveling at the Speed of Bike while fulfilling their daily living activities or are you the only one out there?
- Is there human-scaled lighting and direct-route access to your destinations before the sun rises and after it sets so that you can safely commute to and from work and social/civic events when it’s dark out?
- Can your children walk or bike to school, friends’ homes, and other places or are you hermetically-sealed in a minivan for twenty years because you need to drive them everywhere?
- Are there women in leadership positions whose voices are at the policy-making, funding, and engineering tables when decisions are being made?
- What’s the street harassment situation? (Note: this doesn’t always mean verbal harassment while riding a bike, which women in many cities do experience frequently. It could be as seemingly-simple as a woman not being able to sit on a bench in a public park and read a book or check emails while taking a bike riding break without feeling threatened.)
- Are women positively represented as artists and subjects in street art (if there is any), and do you see photos of local women on bikes in municipal and other communications materials?
My Idaho findings will be appearing on my Patreon site within a few days. Find out about Boise’s stunning Walkscore (and why that matters to women), bike laws specific to Idaho, an innovative bike seat created by a woman, a highly-supportive and fun women’s bike ride, and the dreaded goatheads (and why I’m pointing that out). UPDATE: Here is the Idaho post!!!!
I aim to do this kind of first-impression research of a new state at least once every week (so, yes, this is a year-long project). I’ll make the first one accessible for all. I am so darn curious to see how this story adds up state-by-state, and how we can help each other create a nation safer and better for women Traveling at the Speed of Bike.
Note: There are five spots open still in 2018 for my free Pedal Power with Pattie Basic Bike Skills Class for one woman in every USA state. Sign up here. A spot is still available for a woman in Idaho.