Potomac Pedalers Sponsoring WABA Women & Bicycles Program
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Posted by: Mark Alpert
Potomac Pedalers First Women & Bicycles Ride
Saturday, May 9 - 9:30 AM
Rock Creek Park, Grove 10 (Beach Drive, DC)
Calling all the ladies! Come join us on our first Women’s Only and joint ride with WABA’s Women & Bicycles group! This 25-mile ride welcomes all levels and paces. We'll have two route option with ride leaders at the front, middle, and back. This is a no drop ride! We have the picnic area reserved for a tailgate afterwards so plan to stick around post-ride!
Click here for complete ride information.
Ride Leaders: Denise Cohen, Robin Sparer, Martine Palmiter, Deborah Turton, Linda Kolko, and Brenda Ruby
Contacts: Denise Cohen, Brenda Ruby or Sue Gunter
It’s a fact: Women in our region bike less than men. Since 2004, even though Washington, D.C. has seen a 175 percent increase in cycling and a 300 percent increase in its bike lane network, the number of women on bikes held steady at 23 percent until 2012. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) decided this needed to change and in 2013 launched their Women & Bicycles Program. Female ridership has since increased to 26 percent and, no doubt, reflects the success of this program.
Because Potomac Pedalers and WABA share this common goal of encouraging growth and connectedness within the cycling community, Potomac Pedalers is again offering financial support to WABA and we are happy to announce that our funds will help to sponsor this highly successful Women & Bicycles Program!
What does that mean? It means Potomac Pedalers and the Women & Bicycles group will partner together to create at least four original women-only rides, catering to different skills and biking goals. While Potomac Pedalers promises to do what we do so well in terms of putting on great rides, the Women & Bicycles group will support us by promoting Potomac Pedalers as an official sponsor on their website, blogs entries, and emails, reaching the 3000+ members of the W&B group. (The first ride is schedule for May 9, taking place in Rock Creek Park, with a picnic/tailgate afterward. Stay tuned for details specific to this event!)
You should know that WABA’s W&B program is a culmination of targeted research and planning. In December 2011 WABA held their first forum on women’s bicycling with the goal of identifying and understanding what was keeping women from biking in our region. By bringing together experienced women cyclists with a group of over seventy transportation-novice riders, they discovered that the root of the gender disparity was a confidence disparity. Nelle Pierson, WABA’s Outreach Coordinator and the Women & Bicycles Program Coordinator described this as their “aha” moment.
The forum identified three top barriers for getting women on bikes: safety (fear, inexperience, bike confidence, harassment), logistics (time, weather, gear, money, facilities), and perception (misconceptions, double standards, professionalism). Says Pierson, “We collectively said ‘yes, there are fewer women bicycling, these are the reasons why, and we want to change that.’” What began as a fact-finding mission solidified WABA’s intentions to create a dedicated program aimed at getting more women on bikes.
Based on the principle that if you bring together strictly women you can address these concerns more easily, a pilot program started in Spring 2013 consisted of a series of women-only meetups and rides organized via a W&B Facebook group. Pierson says “it’s a great way to get questions answered that you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable asking in a bike shop and a way to start tackling some of the social norms surrounding bicycling.”
Concluding that creating a strong community is essential to getting more women on bikes, Women & Bicycles achieves that by using “roll models” (pun intended) who tap into their communities to find women who are interested but hesitant to ride. These roll models host practical-skills workshops, group rides, and provide them with the resources they need to bike confidently. Pierson says, “We all have little passions we cultivate and dedicate our time to. What we’re saying with this program is, ‘OK, you’ve discovered your passion for bicycling—you’ve taken 12 years, or 20 years, or maybe 2 months to learn how to incorporate bicycling into your life. Think how much time you could save somebody by sharing those skills with someone else, or encourage them—we all need that gentle nudge.’”
The goal for the Women & Bicycles program isn’t just to get more women riding; it’s to empower women to be mentors in their communities, to “hand off the torch,” as Pierson says. What started as a group of 10 roll models in 2013 has grown exponentially as these women bring in others who then also become leaders. Potomac Pedalers is also gifting the W&B program 42 annual Potomac Pedalers memberships to these W&B roll models.
Brought together on a beautiful spring-like day, WABA’s Pierson and Potomac Pedalers members cemented their partnership and are eager to hold this torch high. Look for and support these special partnership rides in the coming months!
|(left to right) ExCom Members-at-Large Denise Cohen and Sue Gunter, WABA’s Women & Bicycles Program Director Nelle Pierson, and Potomac Pedalers Communication Director Brenda Ruby share the W&B bike love symbol.
Interested women should login to Facebook and look for the W&B Facebook group: