(photo courtesy of Courtney Williams)
Meet Courtney Williams. A fellow League Cycling Instructor, a Bike Advocacy Consultant (see her amazing website) and the first-ever People’s Bike Mayor of New York City, Courtney weaves the interrelated issues of bikes, access, and equity into everything she does. You can find her on social media (where she often goes live) as The Brown Bike Girl.
I first met Courtney last summer when I reached out to say I was going to be in New York City and did she need any help with a class she was giving to women in a community center between Avenues C and D in Manhattan (not far from where I used to live, in fact). She said yes, I showed up on Citibike, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.
I’ve loved following Courtney (and I consider her a friend now) because she’s a powerhouse of purpose, passion, and creativity. For example, holed up in her Brooklyn apartment due to COVID-19 during National Bike Month in May this year, Courtney launched a series of Bike Bingo events on Zoom where she featured guests from all over the USA during interactive Bingo games she custom-designed that featured their individual bike stories. She awarded bike-themed prizes, and it was super fun at a time fun really mattered (see the photo Courtney posted on Instagram below). I attended all three (and had the opportunity to be one of the guests) and am now following so many amazing people I did not know before.
Since then, Courtney created and shared a series of helpful videos and articles for those new to bike riding during the current bike boom (one of which I’ve included as a bonus link in my text-based and downloadable class), and she encouraged keeping the purpose centered during socially-distanced rides that followed League of American Bicyclists pandemic protocols during the protests this summer.
Courtney went live on social media to conduct targeted trainings for communities of color and white allies on issues relating to access and justice. And she trained ten new group ride leaders (whom she recruited by specifically saying age and speed were not factors, and owning a bike was not required) to lead upcoming rides in her neighborhoods-of-focus.
Currently, Courtney is showcasing her new series titled #CyclingThroughCOVID that spotlights five BIPOC cyclists from New York City who share their experiences and thoughts on committing to cycling through the pandemic. She offers a 3-hour online anti-bias/anti-privilege training, and other services, that would benefit city leaders and staff members throughout the USA.
As Courtney said when she was named the People’s Bike Mayor of New York City:
“Let’s celebrate bikes for all they enable us to do in these trying times!”
Courtney, I celebrate you. Thank you for all you do, and the stunning way you keep the joy in it. You are an inspiration to me.
If interested, you may also enjoy this article by Sam Raskin that captures Courtney’s voice and work.
Tap in every day in August for my “You Go, Girl” series showcasing 31 Women in 31 Days who are making it more welcoming to ride bikes in the USA. If interested, you may enjoy my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike. All proceeds from the sale of my book help more women and girls ride bikes.
The complete series:
10. Meet Irene Lutts
14. Meet Jenn Dice
28. Meet Megan Ramey
30. Meet Aly Nicklas