If you read this blog you know it’s time: Time for as many women to be on bikes as men. Time for women to be represented equally in all aspects of the bicycle movement. Time for bike infrastructure, bike design, bike clothing, all to reflect the enormous potential to get women rolling.
Time to register for the National Women’s Bicycling Summit on September 13 in Long Beach, California! I’ll be there and I hope you will too.
Across North America, there are two revolutions afoot. One is the big move of bicycling into the mainstream, from the painting of bike lanes on iconic avenues to the placement of bicycles in all forms of advertising. If New York City, with some of the world’s most expensive real estate per foot, can close streets to motor vehicle traffic and put bikes and pedestrians first, can the rest of America be that far behind?
The other major movement makes me think of the transformation of national politics symbolized by the 1848 convention in Seneca Falls: More and more women are getting engaged because those who have dominated the conversation up to this point do not represent their needs and interests.
The Seneca Falls women were the strong, the informed, the leaders. But they spoke for many who would follow them once the vision was articulated. A housewife at home could become a leader in her hometown by speaking out and setting an example.
That’s as true today for riding a bike as it was in 1848 for seeking the vote.
But we still have a long way to go. In 2009, women accounted for just 24 percent of all U.S. bike trips—and there’s no special set of gears we can use to propel us to gender equity.
That’s why the League of American Bicyclists and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals are hosting the National Women’s Bicycling Summit, on September 13 in Long Beach, California. There’s tremendous momentum and energy to get more women riding; we need to harness our collective knowledge, build a network of female leaders, and start working on targeted solutions.
You can help! If you ride, you’re already a voice for women biking in your community because you’re setting an example. It would be great if you could attend and lend your voice and ideas to this important discussion. You can also help spread the word to other women who ride by sharing this with your biking friends and any advocacy organizations or bike clubs you belong to. (Men are invited too.)
Registration is open so sign up now. (Seats are limited and it will sell out!)
The program will include:
- A keynote address from Leah Missbach Day, founder of World Bicycle Relief
- Six break-out sessions, on topics like equity and car-free families
- A Cycle Chic Fashion Show, social event and bike ride
Visit www.bikeleague.org/conferences/women to learn more and register for the Summit.
I’d draw one more parallel to the Seneca Falls convention. Women were already active in the movement and this was just one more step along the way for many of them–something they had been building toward. But women–and men–who hadn’t been paying attention to the movement were galvanized by the idea that both women and men could come together in support of something that provided true power and freedom to women. They saw it as an exciting beginning.
Let’s do it again. But let’s not take as long as it did between 1848 and 1920 to ensure that women everywhere have equality.
- National Women’s Bicycling Summit
- Bike Long Beach
- The Bicycle and Women’s Independence
- Independence and Freedom, Courtesy of the Bicycle
- A Page out of the History Books: Benefits of Biking for Spinsters
- Have you been to any national bike events like the National Bike Summit or Pro Bike Pro Walk Pro Place? (I’ll be at that too–it’s also in Long Beach, Sept. 10-13, and ends as the Summit begins.)
- What did you learn and do there that stays with you now?
- How about big women’s events that don’t have anything to do with biking? What’s different about going to a major gathering focused on an issue of importance to women?