+ Bikes – Smog

Biciaccion from Quito, Ecuador is organizing a campaign called ‘+ Bicis, – Smog’ focused on the air quality of Quito. In the video, the group is chalking in a big tunnel in the city, and its walls are black from the smog of the cars and buses that circulate there everyday. They propose more bikes as a way forward in cleaning up the air quality of Quito.

This campaign really reminds me of BiciRed‘s campaign called ‘Hazla de Tos’ (Make Them Cough), which is being coordinated across Mexico. Recently there was an action where groups created fake graveyards to signify the number of people who die form air quality related illnesses every year in Mexico.

Interesting to see many groups across Latin America organizing around biking and air quality. Definitely interested to talk to folks about this at the forum.

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World Bicycle Forum – Curitiba, Brazil

I have the coolest job ever, and so I’m going to the World Bicycle Forum for WORK in February. Brazil has been at the top of my travel wish list for a long time, and so I’m pumped to go to the forum, see what types of bicycle organizing people are doing, and write about it here. Stay tuned!

Bike Trains!

I really like the concept behind this recent NPR story on bike trains in LA. The idea of the bike train is that a conductor, an experienced, confident cyclist, leads a group of people on a determined route to help new cyclists learn how to ride in traffic. In fact, the concept reminds me a lot of the Big Sister/Little Sister program we started in Quito, because the idea is to find mentors in your neighborhood to help show you the ropes and build your confidence riding a bike.

However, this story also makes me pause because of how it belittles small community scale change, like bike trains, in comparison to large, infrastructural investments like bike lanes. The logic is that bike trains only reach such a small group of people, whereas bike lanes can reach many people. And I get that. But I’m also a big believer in these small changes, because in my experience it helps to create truly informed, passionate cyclists. I think that someone who learns to ride with a mentor I think is more likely to be a cycling advocate and to encourage others to ride, than someone who uses bike lanes because they are convenient. Obviously, both sides are needed – the large infrastructural investments and the small scale community action – I just get automatically defensive when I feel like a news story is belittling community action.

Last thought on this – I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY GOT SOMEONE TO ADMIT ON AIR TO RUNNING CYCLISTS OFF THE ROAD. What an asshole!

Grease Rag and Facilitating Safe Spaces

My friend, and Minneapolis Bike Hero, Laura Kling recently wrote up some responses to frequently asked questions about Grease Rag.

Grease Rag Ride & Wrench aims to encourage WTF (women, transgender, femme) cyclists by facilitating fun and supportive open shop nights, group rides, educational seminars and social events. We are an entirely volunteer-run organization, fueled by enthusiasm and a drive to grow our community. Grease Rag would like to make bicycling in the Twin Cities more inclusive of WTF cyclists, especially focusing on including and building confidence in new cyclists, and cyclists new to bicycle mechanics. In the past year we have gotten a lot of new cyclists biking and excited to bike around the Twin Cities.

I used to help facilitate Grease Rag while living in Minneapolis, and it is one of the most incredible bike spaces I’ve ever been a part of. The environment is so supportive and positive, and I think that the whole Grease Rag community has something really incredible and special going on. The FAQ’s also address why safe spaces for WTF cyclists are important, and different methods Grease Rag uses to try to facilitate that kind of space. I know that this is something that Laura thinks a lot about, and her responses are insightful and useful to others who are trying to organize safe spaces.

Continue reading “Grease Rag and Facilitating Safe Spaces”

In Memory of Elena: Carishina Feminista

(tradducion abajo)

Earlier this week my friend Elena passed away. Elena was one of the most incredible people I’ve ever known. She was an outspoken radical, anarchist feminist, and an inspiring bike organizer. She could talk to anyone; she could talk to people with machista views about feminism in a way that both got them to see her point, and made them laugh. She was tough and a fighter in a way I admire and aspire to, and brought enthusiasm to everything she did – from community organizing with Amazonian tribes, to organizing with the Carishinas, to playing bike polo.

Elena holds a really special place in my heart for a lot of reasons. I first met Elena at the very first Carishina Race where she came in close to last, but you could see that that night had changed her life. It was the first time she’d ridden her bike in the city, in traffic, and there was no going back from there. The next time I met her she came to a mechanic workshop I was teaching, and was the most enthusiastic participant there. She would stay late and ask questions, and was the first person to ever ask me how to get involved with organizing with Carishina en Bici. When I left Quito I handed over the Carishina collective to her and some friends, and she became one of the primary organizers for the collective for the last three years.

It’s hard to express exactly how much awe and inspiration I draw from Elena. I have met maybe a handful of women with whom I truly believe that we are working towards the same world, and that we see gender bike organizing as working towards that shared vision. Elena is one of those people. I felt like our minds were in sync with how organizing around bike feminism moved us closer to the world we envisioned. It’s a really amazing feeling to feel so connected to someone through a shared goal – and it’s a really unique feeling than being connected to people in other ways. So now that Elena has passed away, the best way I can think to honor her memory and her spirit is to continue to organize women on bikes to work towards that vision.

Over the last three years Elena and I had a lot of conversations about what bike feminism meant to us, and how it fit into our work. I think of feminism as a way of looking at how various forms of oppression intersect – sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, etc – and how paths of empowerment and liberation are also linked. Bike feminism is how these paths of oppression and liberation can be linked to something tangible – the bicycle- and how bike organizing can be a tool to empower oppressed communities and to work towards social change. It’s about taking big ideas and using a bike as a way of making tangible steps forward, moving towards a more horizontal, equal, and just world. Bike feminism is inherently radical, at times confrontational, and begins to seep into every aspect of your life.

Elena never shied away from that. She never shied away from saying she was a feminist, a radical, an anarchist, and bike feminism did begin to seep into every part of her life and her person.  I so admire her sense of purpose, and the energy she devoted to these bigger aims. And so for everyone who has been lucky enough to be touched by Elena in their life, I hope that we can all think about what she stood for, and think about what we’re doing to make that world possible.

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Continue reading “In Memory of Elena: Carishina Feminista”

Bay State Badass Bike Zine

This weekend I came across the Baystate Badass Bike Zine while exploring a zine library in Cambridge with my friend Mark. Because I heart zines, bike feminism, and I extra heart zines about bike feminism – I couldn’t help myself, I had to get them all.  Then I got home and checked out their wordpress site – and admittedly, it has only two posts on it – BUT the two posts are free downloads of the zine! How awesome is that?!  So check em out!

Baystate Badass #2 Coverart
Baystate Badass #2 Coverart

10 Tips for Engaging Women in Bike Ed

The League of American Cyclists’ program Women Bike recently posted this list of 10 Tips for Engaging Women in Bike Ed. The ten tips are:

1. Change People’s Expectations

2. Keep it social

3. Make your classes open and welcoming spaces 

4. There are benefits to an all women’s setting

5. Cater to mom’s

6. Shorter classes are more accessible 

7. Offer courses/materials in different languages

8. Maintain and nurture your relationship with your students

9. Mechanics knowledge is key

10. Learning your way around the bike shop is important too 

What do you think of this list?