Friday Link Love

It’s Friday.

I’ve only ever worked as a messenger informally for bike shops where I was the person who spent all day biking around town, picking up and dropping off parts, and ghost riding bikes from the warehouse to the shop, so I don’t know what it’s like to work for a legit courier service. Of course, I think I, like a lot of cyclists, often over romanticize what it would be like to work all day, every day riding. A lot of days that sounds pretty awesome, but as I posted on a recent Friday Link Love, the working conditions and pay for messengers makes being a courier a dangerous and low-paying gig. Anyways – I ran across this article, The Best Job in the World – Bike Messenger, and it pretty much made me romanticize wanting to be a bike messenger all over again.

There are a lot of things I appreciate about this article ‘Hey Dude.’ Generally speaking, I think that these types of stories are more powerful coming from the mouths of those who experience being the minority of the group – in this case women at bike races. Normally I’d prefer to hear women talk about what that experience is like instead of men kind of patting themselves on the back for noticing it. But there is something about this article that feels a bit more sincere.

It might feel a bit like when you went to your first alleycat, only it’s like that every time.  It’s awkward, most of us would probably stop showing up.  I know when I helped organise the first women’s-only alleycat here in Mexico City about eighty women turned out.  At a normal alleycat there might be ten out of one hundred.  That tells a story.  Women want to race, they like bikes just the same, but they’re just not comfortable with the current atmosphere at races.  It’s intimidating and if they do turn up to race, after all the stupid comments and creepy looks before the race, to end it all off they’re probably going to get gipped at the award ceremony.

Preach. Remember that time I won $2000 less in prizes than the male winner of Fixed Gear Revolution in Beijing? Really encourages women to participate. Lolz.

Watch this to the end. Message – don’t be a creep.

Friday Link Love

First, an excellent article on why people should stop demonizing bike messengers for how they ride – ‘Don’t Blame Messengers for How They Ride. Blame Their Bosses.’ The article details the unsafe and under-paid conditions of the courier industry, and how messengers have a reason to ride the way they do.

Who is surprised that the list of ‘The 10 People You Need to Know in the Bike Industry‘ is, as my friend put it, ‘pale, male and stale’? Is this list a real representation that there are few women in positions of power within the bike industry (hard for me to believe there isn’t even one…) or that those women are just not featured? Either way – the bike industry has some work to do…

EVERYTHING about this Guardian article is awesome.

To build sustainable transportation networks that work for everyone, policymakers will need to go beyond what they see on the street itself. They’ll have to look into the Dutch home where a husband is changing a diaper on paternity leave; into the Dutch workplace where a mom on a flexible schedule can leave before the sun goes down; and into Dutch schools where children receive universal education about how to ride a bike to school, freeing up their parents to ride to work.

I completely agree that in order to really tackle why there are less women riding bikes as men, you have to tackle issues of how domestic labor is distributed in the household.

Bikey Face has a new cartoon out – Bike Creep.

Lastly, this video isn’t about women or biking, but I think it’s an issue extremely relevant to feminism and anti-racism solidarity. This video was put together by the Boston ACLU in conjunction with their release of the ‘Black, Brown and Targeted‘ report on racially biased policing, specifically stop and frisk – by the Boston Policy Department.

Friday Link Love

September is turning out to be a crazy month, so I apologize that I haven’t been blogging as much. Last week I was in Minneapolis for Babes in Bikeland (hopefully I’ll have a write-up this weekend because it’s basically the greatest thing ever), I’m currently sitting in a cafe in Brooklyn where I’m in town for the People’s Climate March and next week I’m taking a road trip down to Lexington Kentucky for the NAH Bike Polo Bench Championships. So let’s just say it’s a busy month.

But enough with the excuses – here’s your weekly round-up (or really – things I’ve read over the last few weeks…).

5 Issues in Women’s Cycling that are more important than THAT kit. We’ve all seen it. THAT kit. The one of the women’s Colombian cycling team that makes it look like a panel of their kit is intentionally nude. Apparently it’s gold. Whatever. It is NOT the most important thing happening in women’s cycling. And who is surprised that the image of the Colombian cycling team is the most re-posted thing I’ve ever seen of professional women’s cycling? It’s so predictably frustrating.

Next, Elly Blue wrote ‘Closing the Gap‘ about a month ago, but it is still important/this is the first Link Love since it was published. It’s a lot of basic advice for how to close the gender gap in cycling. For me the most important point she brings up is the following:

Think about dishes and day care drop-off
Are you in a heterosexual relationship? If so, do you equally divide child care and chores? I’m afraid that statistically speaking, you probably don’t and this unequal division affects both you and your spouse’s transportation habits,  not to mention your participation in cycling sports. If this sounds familiar, have a conversation about leveling the playing field at home. Trying something new might just put new fire in your relationship and inspire you both to go out and advocate for safer streets where anyone at all can take the kids to day care on the way to picking up some groceries without majorly fearing for their lives.

Domestic labor is so important! In my travels around the world, the uneven distribution of domestic labor is one of the few universal things I’ve seen that prevent women from cycling from the US to China to Sierra Leone. It’s a hell of a lot harder to bike when you are the one responsible for traveling with children and picking up groceries from the store or market, not to mention that you also have less time for those activities as is because you’re also responsible for cooking and cleaning. This is why we need to simultaneously revolutionize the home/domestic space (which includes mixed use zoning in order to facilitate domestic labor) in order to also achieve the bike revolution.

Lastly, 21 Photos of Real Women Who Bike. It’s not the first compilation of photos I’ve seen of women holding up signs and trying to break the stereotype of female cyclists, but it is a good one. And of course – my fav: (someone commented that they thought this person looked like me – I’ll take it as a compliment!)

Friday Link Love

There were SO MANY good bike articles this week that it’s a bit hard to narrow it down to the most important, but I will try my best.

First up, I love everything about Jennifer Finney Boylan’s piece in the NY Times ‘My Life in Bicycles.’ The short reflection piece is about her lifelong relationship to biking, and includes this touching and eloquent commentary about aging and biking:

These are the gifts that I will most miss when, some day in the not-so-distant future, I have to give up biking alone. At 56, I’m really too old to be hopping over rocks and fallen trees, an hour or two from help, should anything terrible happen to me, which, odds are, it will. Recently, I encountered a bunch of young men who were climbing a mountain trail that I was riding down; one of them looked at me, mud-spattered, sweat-covered, and said, “Whoa! Hard-core!” It wasn’t clear whether he was saying this out of admiration, or concern.

It’s especially moving to me because I have two middle-aged parents who are hard-core (and badass) cyclists. To be honest, I think we take turns worrying about each others biking adventures. They worry about me playing polo, biking in dangerous conditions, and my general carelessness and nonchalant attitude about bruises and falls. I worry about the fact that my dad regularly rides 100+ miles with tons of climbing by himself on the backroads in Vermont, and when they go mountain biking out West I worry about the conditions and what would happen if they fell. We’re all human. We’re all vulnerable. Biking by oneself in the woods at any age is probably not the greatest idea, but, lets be real, it’s also the most fun.

Next up, Elly Blue was back at it stirring up controversy on the interwebz. First she wrote a great article on her own blog, ‘Upper Class Cycling and the Demise of Portland Bike Culture,’ and then clearly she was on a class-bent kick and wrote ‘How to Cycle While Rich,’ for a the (often) wealthy audience of Bicycle Magazine. Both articles are SO IMPORTANT to read! I love the thick irony of her second article:

Avoid coming into contact with the visibly poor when you ride. If you do encounter them, complain to the relevant authorities: your ride or organization’s leaders, elected officials, the police, and the editorial page of the newspaper are all available outlets.

As someone who identifies as a transportation equity activist, I think these types of articles are so important to read mostly to question you’re own practices. Yes, I’m a transportation equity activist, but I also like to participate in bike polo and bike races, and recently I’ve been thinking about buying an expensive mountain bike and taking up mountain biking again. I often times have a hard time balancing my personal desire to participate in some of the more class restrictive parts of biking (mountain biking is a great example), when I claim to be a equity activist. I try to personally navigate that by trying to figure out what it means to act in solidarity when riding in my community and to not prioritize the elitist parts of cycling over everyday cycling. It’s a road I’m sure I will continue to question. Thoughts on that are welcome.

Last up, the LA Streets Blog reported on two bike rides in LA last weekend – Clitoral Mass and a Unity Ride – in an article entitled ‘Reclaiming Public Space for Marginalized Communities: Bikes Don’t Fix Everything, But They Can Help.’

While bikes might not seem like the most effective way to tackle social justice, rides through Boyle Heights or South L.A. with these groups are never solely about riding bikes.

Amongst bike activist folks, there have been a lot of discussions in the last two weeks about how bike activism relates to whats going on in Ferguson, Missouri. I often have a knee jerk cringe reaction to those efforts because it can feel like trying to draw those connections somehow trivializes the murder of young people of color. I certainly don’t think that is the intention, nor am I sure that it’s really how I feel, but it can feel like to draw that connection takes something away from the fight against racism. But as I like to say when I describe my job to folks ‘it’s about bikes, but it’s not about bikes.’ For me, bike organizing is something I know how to do and is something I find empowering, but it’s about fighting for a lot about than bikes – it’s about fighting against racism and sexism, about fighting transphobia and corporate power – it’s about taking back our streets, our culture, our communities. The LA Streets Blog article is a cool look into two groups who are actively making those connections between biking and wider struggles.

Oh and Boston Magazine did a write up on Boston Bike Polo! : )

Friday Link Love

Friday Link Love is back! I’ve been on a bit of a summer vacation from blogging, but I’m back and 86% focused!

First up, in local Boston news, the Boston Globe wrote a really awesome article about the jump park by Jamaica Pond that is going to be be destroyed. I think the article takes a great view of admiring how incredible this jump park is, and how sad it is that certain people are unwilling to compromise and work with the jump park stewards. The Parks Department is getting put in a spot where they are going to destroy the jumps (to the tune of $10,000), but it seems like they are sad to do so.

Emma Pooley is retiring from professional women’s cycling. : (

As Pooley talks about the chance to race triathlons around the world and travel at her own pace, while still seeing how much she can improve, it seems the logical next step, especially as she wouldn’t have many opportunities to improve in road cycling.

The women’s calendar is a lonely place for a climber and time-trial star. It’s lost a lot of races in recent years, including two of its three Grand Tours – the Tour de l’Aude, and the women’s equivalent of the Tour de France, the Grande Boucle.

In other women’s professional cycling news, Team Specialized Lululemon are losing their big sponsors and are starting a crowd-sourced sponsorship campaign to help keep the top women’s professional team on the road.

And Scrymgeour has another trick up her sleeve this year.  She is launching a crowd-funding campaignon Indiegogo to help secure a portion of the team’s total budget. “We have some good interest in title sponsorship,” she says. “But I want to do something different to create excitement. People want to get involved and this way they can be involved in ways they’ve never been before. Everyone who contributes will be a team member and will have access to exclusive information and opportunities.”

Here is their video appeal:


And this. Everything about this.

Friday Link Love and gum on my seat

Before I start Friday Link Love I want to tell you all a story from my week. Wednesday night after polo and after watching game 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs I rode home through Allston, and as it was 11:30 and I hadn’t eaten yet I stopped for some dinner. I locked up my bike, and when I stopped to lock it up a rather inebriated person stopped too and just sort of stood there. It caught my attention, but I was hungry and I didn’t really care, so I just went inside, got some food, and came back out to go eat at home. When I went back to my bike I noticed the same drunk dude there, and I didn’t care until I looked down at my seat.

That is when I saw it. A HUGE GLOB OF GUM ON MY SEAT. Now after my initial reaction of being pretty pissed off, I then took a closer look at the gum and realized that this was no regular spitting of gum on a bike seat – this was a HUGE glob of freshly chewed baseball gum. Someone had chewed up that gum with the intention of spitting it out on my seat. Seriously, the gum covered a good third of my seat with gum juices oozing everywhere. I was both really pissed and kind of impressed. Anyways – I wiped it off with my ulock and then muttered to myself the rest of the way home.

So that’s a story from my week. Hope yours did not include anybody spitting gum on your seat.

Now to the links!

A few weeks ago I posted a video and of Chelsea Fietsgodin tearing it up on a BMX bike. This week she gave an interview on The Come Up about what it’s like being a trans woman BMX rider, solidarity between trans and cis women, amongst other topics. I can’t stress enough how awesome this interview is, and that everyone should read it!! I want to quote this whole interview here, but instead I’ll just include this one quote:

As an example of sex being a spectrum and not a binary system, compare my body to someone like Stevie Churchills; we were both assigned male at birth, but look at how much muscle mass he has compared to me. Then look at Amanda Carr for example, I’m pretty sure she is stronger than I am despite the fact that she was assigned female at birth. She and I are both strong because we spend countless hours building our strength so we can be better at our sports. I don’t have strong legs because I was “BORN A MAN!!!!!” but because I ride my bike to work and school 7 days a week on top of riding for fun for several hours a day every day. Proof of this forced subordination of female strength is seen in the female runners that were required to have their hormone levels altered because they run “too fast”. And those were cisgender women that this was done to. Still, keeping in mind that strength is not determined by gender or sex the differing socialization of the genders results in physical differences with current societal beliefs and I was socialized as a boy for a part of my life. Due to this I’ve spent many years making sure that I did not receive credit for being a girl rider because I didn’t want to make other women feel cheated, but after meeting, riding with, and talking to other woman and girl riders who so far with the exception of one, have been nothing but supportive of me riding I have come to accept that I too am what a woman rides like.

But really. Read the whole interview. It’s awesome.

The Guardian posted an article on their blog called ‘Where’s the voice of female cyclists in campaigns, forums and politics?‘ which I think is always a relevant question.

Even among the more thoughtful commentators, we hear that women are ‘an indicator species’ for safe cycling in a city. While I understand the sentiment, I find the wording grates; really, a whole different species? Certainly nothing illustrates better that the public debate about cycling is one largely conducted by men, and on men’s terms and that women are a ‘problem’ to be talked about, rather than people to be actually listened to.

I had just read this article when another article popped up in my email from BiciRed in Mexico announcing the launch of a new world cycling initiative and when I looked at the picture for the article this is what I saw…


Yup. Looks typical.

And lastly because this is the cutest thing I’ve seen in a while:

Friday Link Love

Hey Blog World –

Sorry that I haven’t been posting much the last two weeks – things have been busy, and it’s been nice out so I’ve been less inclined to spend my free time at my computer. Buuuuut Friday Link Love is back this week, and I’ll put in an honest effort to blog more… starting next week.

Check it.

You can read up on how to use your bike for self-defense from Gizmodo. Try it at your own risk.

Boston Bikes is starting a summer Women’s Bike Socials. So if you’re looking for some fun rides to get to know other lady cyclists, check it out.

My favorite bike article I read this week came out of Seattle entitled ‘Personal Privilege and Biking: It Takes More than a Bike Lane to Start Riding,’ discussing equity and privilege when in comes to biking. The author talks about the various privileges she has, and how those privileges make it easier to bike to work. It’s a must-read article.

If this seems like a really long list, that’s the point. If you hold privilege in this world you take a lot of things for granted that others don’t have. They can’t get the same things without thinking about it and working to overcome barriers you’ll never notice because they don’t exist for you.