Women And Bicycles

WABA’s Women & Bicycles Program

WABA (Washington Area Bicycle Association) is putting together an education and outreach program to get more women on bikes! While the program is still in the infancy it seems they have obtainable goals and mission to begin with. I’m excited to follow along with what WABA is doing and how these efforts can be duplicated elsewhere.

From WABA….

Why is getting more women on bikes a critical cause?

  • In 2012, women represented just 22.7 percent of cyclists on the road in D.C. According to DDOT, that’s a slight drop since 2011.
  • In Women on Wheels, April Streeter writes, “New bike commuters are overwhelmingly male. Data reviewed by researchers John Pucher and Ralph Buehler show that almost all of the recent growth in cycling in the united states recently can be attributed to men between 25 and 64 years old. Pucher and Buehler found that cycling rates are just holding steady for women, and have fallen sharply for children.”
  • Our women’s bicycling forum identified three top barriers for getting women on bikes: safety (fear, safety concerns, inexperience/confidence, harassment), logistics (facilities, time commitment, weather, gear, money), and perception (misconceptions, double standards, and professionalism).
  • We aren’t the only group at work! Through Women Bike, the League of American Bicyclists is working at a National level to encourage women to facilitate solutions on the local level.

How is WABA going to fix these problems through the Women & Bicycles program?

  • Ten “Roll Models” will be selected to mentor women in their friend, family, church, and work groups
  • Roll Models and mentees will be invited to a series of bike meetups, group rides, and workshops that will mix practical advice and conversation about how to incorporate cycling into one’s lifestyle with socializing and low-key hanging out.
  • Non-participants will be kept abreast of the program, so they’ll learn more about the issues facing women on bikes and be inclined to encourage their friends and family to bike, regardless of gender.

We don’t want to sit around and talk about what’s discouraging women from biking, so we’ve created a program centered on peer-to-peer encouragement, information, and experience through events.

Want to learn more? Visit WABA.org

Fat tire wheelie courtesy of Chris

Frostbike–A bicycle non-professional at a bicycle industry trade show

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

So, I know my byline up there says that I represent Loose Nuts Cycles when I write.  The truth is that I am by no means a bicycle industry professional.  I ride my bike to work and around town, love a mountain bike ride, help out at the local velodrome and am marrying a bike shop owner, but I have never been paid to ride or work on bikes or to be knowledgeable about bicycle-related things.  I am a bicycle non-professional.

This weekend, my partner (owner of Loose Nuts Cycles) and I flew to Minneapolis so that he could attend Frostbike 2013–QBP’s annual conference and trade show.  I originally signed up because I have some family in the city and wanted to visit with them, but I was also curious about what went on at bicycle industry gatherings.  I’m in public health, so I’m used to peer-reviewed abstracts, break out sessions, suits, and networking events when I go to a conference.

Before we even left Atlanta for the frigid northern lands of Minnesota,  I knew I was in for something different than the expert-packed, abstract-ridden, brain-overwhelming days of public health conferences.  Chris forwarded an email to me with the subject line “2013 Frostbike Beer Hunt”, which described a scavenger hunt-type activity that you could complete at the vendor expo in order to earn “a 22oz. bottle of limited-edition Frostbike beer that was brewed and bottled by the QBP Vendor Sales Team”.  It’s not that we public health folks don’t have fun at our conferences, but we’ve certainly never hosted a Beer Hunt.  I could tell that Chris’s “professional” trip was going to be a very different kind of professional than I was used to.

Essentially, our schedule was this:

Friday–arrive in Minneapolis and find hotel.  Go to All City Bikes party (via a party bus called the Night Rider) and have beer- and bike-related fun.

Saturday–Go to QBP headquarters.  Check out the vendor expo for the morning.  Eat delicious lunch provided by Thompson and QBP.  Ride Surly fat bikes in the snow.  Back to expo.  Return to hotel for dinner.

Sunday–More expo. Take tour of QBP headquarters.  Eat more delicious lunch.  Ride more fat bikes (Salsa this time).  Win stuff at a raffle.  Back to hotel.

Monday–Sit on butt.  Fly back to Atlanta.

After4 bicycle packed days, these are the things that stuck with me:

  1. Fat tire bikes are awesome, especially when used for their intended purpose–snow.

    fat tires

    fat tires

  2. QBP likes girls.  My name tag said “Dealer” which probably helped, but all of the brands and bike professionals with whom I spoke treated me very equitably, like I knew as much as Chris did.  They made sure to look at both of us when talking about products.  I liked the feeling of not being talked down to and treated knowledgeably, even if I wasn’t actually knowledgeable.  I hope that Frostbike 2014 includes seminars for bike shop owners about how to make women cyclists feel like that in their shops.  It seems pretty rare in the bike world.
  3. The bicycle apparel industry apparently hates women–I’ll rant more about this in a later post, but women’s bicycle clothing continues to be made to look exactly like men’s cycling apparel but with an added flower or ruffle.  I saw not one piece of clothing at the entire show that I would be excited about wearing.
  4. POC Helmets look awesome–awesome enough to reduce how dorky I normally feel when wearing a helmet.
  5. Brooks still makes beautiful, drool-worthy leather products–I fell in love with this Brooks bag.  Oh yeah, and this bag is pretty amazing in the grape color.
  6. The Surly display.  They had obviously put a lot of thought and design into their space, even though it was just temporary.  Plus, the new Big Dummy cargo system premiered, which was exciting.
    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

     

  7. There is a common sense of purpose between the Frostbike attendees.  Even though people didn’t know each other, they shared a priority and experience that connected them.  It sounds like hippy talk, but it made Frostbike feel welcoming and warm.  The feeling helped to re-energize a lot of attendees (including myself) about riding, even in the middle of winter.
  8. Kenda’s new tube vending machine–this is being tested in several pilot areas before it will be available to the mass market.  Pretty fun product.

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn't open to help you

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn’t open to help you

I was prepared to come back and report that professional bike trade shows are just an excuse to have a good party and talk about bikes all weekend.  While partying and talking about riding bikes and actually riding bikes was essentially all that we did for 3 days, I was surprised at how much actual business got done.  Vendors with whom I spoke were really excited and helpful when talking about their new products.  Bike shop owners were stoked that these new products met the needs of their customers (with the exception of women’s cycling clothing–ugh! Still unreasonably pissed about this).  Everyone wanted to ride bikes and generally the atmosphere at Frostbike fueled that fire.  It was fun to come home and be stoked to get on my bike and know that thousands of other people were doing the same thing as they returned home from Frostbike too.

Pinterest Retail Board

For the Love of Retail Experiences

When you pair my love of design and retail you have a very, very, strong passion for the “retail experience.” What is a retail experience? A mix of great customer experience, accessorized displays and a well laid out “flow” of a store.

As I travel across the country, visit more bicycle shops and share stories of retail experiences with shops I am slowly watching a transformation. No more than 5 years ago most bike shops looked much like an auto parts dealers, aisles of bikes, slat wall, grid wall, and really anything that you could hang a bike or product on. While there still are many of these slat walled shops around you can watch the smarter shops transform into boutiques or speciality shop, REI’s and Ikeas. Less slat wall, more story telling and a beautiful EXPERIENCE.

Amazon and the online retailers of the world are changing what a bike shop has to do to be relevant. A good local bike shop will be three things: 1. A resource 2. Pillar in the local cycling community 3. Deliver a retail experience.

To encourage this retail experience I have started a Pinterest board to share others photos, my own from travels and hopefully encourage more shops to step up and create better experiences for their consumers.

National Women's Bicycling Forum

National Women’s Bicycling Forum: March 4th

On March 4th, 2013, timing around the National Bike Summit, the League of American Bicyclists are hosting the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum. I asked Carolyn, Director of Communications at the League of American Bicyclists, some follow up questions to learn more about what the League has planned for this Forum!

About the National Women’s Bicycling Forum

Join hundreds of fellow advocates and enthusiasts who are working to engage more women in bicycling at our next Women Bike event! Register now for the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum on March 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C.!

With a theme of “Women Mean Business,” this all-day event will showcase women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry and highlight the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement. (The Forum will end before the start of the National Bike Summit.)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

With an opening keynote address from Georgena Terry, break-out sessions, lunch plenary, networking and so much more, the Women’s Forum will be an opportunity to learn, connect and network with advocates and leaders from across the country who are working to close the gender gap in American bicycling.

Both women AND men are encouraged to attend!

A Recap of the First National Women’s Bicycling Forum

Carolyn: The first National Women’s Bicycling Forum was really a toe in the water — it was a first attempt to bring the discussion about gender to the forefront and gauge the interest and trajectory of where that conversation could take us at the national level.

First, we tried to pour a number of different perspectives into a two-hour panel. With incredible speakers like Elysa Walk (GM of Giant Bicycle USA), Marla Streb (former world mountain bike champion) and Veronica Davis (founder of Black Women Bike DC) some incredible insight floated to the top — but it was crystal clear that tackling “women in bicycling” is NOT a single conversation. It’s an ocean of content!

Secondly, the response was a tidal wave. We packed the room with more than 300 people, all of whom were just buzzing with excitement and ideas and energy to keep the conversation going. So the take-away was simple: A two-hour forum is just the first drop in a really big bucket. In September, we expanded to a full-day event with more sessions with more specific content, like family biking and marketing to women. In 2013, we’re expanding and sustaining that effort with a full-time program, so we can compile and create new resources, share stories and work on targeted strategies to increase the number of women riding, in between these killer events.

What are the Main Reasons the League is Putting Energy into this Forum?

Carolyn: The Women Bike initiative is really part of a more big-picture effort by the League to change the face of bicycling — or better represent and include the voices of the many diverse communities and people who ride. Clearly, since we’re 50 percent of the population, we need to engage more women if we want to mainstream / normalize bicycling as a means of transportation (like we see in European countries) and recreation, too. And it’s not just about equity in numbers — our voices our powerful. Women are role models for the next generation, decision makers for their households, persuasive political constituencies and ingenious entrepreneurs. Bringing more women into all aspects of the bicycle movement, from lobbying on Capitol Hill to designing product at major bicycle manufactures, is in everyone’s best interests.

What is the Second Annual Forum Focused On?

Carolyn: The second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum on March 4 in Washington, D.C. With a theme of “Women Mean Business,” we’re focusing on how the industry and retailers are working to close the gender gap and highlighting efforts that are changing the culture of cycling in new and innovative ways.

The speaker line-up is off the chain: Georgena Terry, Jacquie Phelan, leaders Red Bike & Green, reps from industry leaders like Specialized, Giant and ASI; editors from Bicycle Times and Momentum; the founder of Cyclofemme; the woman behind the nation’s largest bike share systems… and so many more. And we mean business when it comes to making this event accessible to all. Bring your kids: We’ll have free childcare. If the $85 registration fee is a barrier, apply for a scholarship.
Be the Change

Be the Change

Since childhood I’ve had a journal in which I would lay out frustrations, draw desires and jot down quotes that inspired or motivated me to be a better person. Since high school I have found my outlet in typing on a keyboard.

In 2009 I moved much of my efforts of typing to the outlet you see here, Bike Shop Girl, in order to “empower women within bicycling”. Three and a half years later I still find the time to push and promote but my message has started to change. With that I need to mirror my efforts and outlet to who I’ve become.

Read More

Reality Bikes Ridley Owner Appreciation Day

Reality Bikes Ridley Customer Appreciation Event

This past Sunday I drove down to the Atlanta metro for an event with Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA. The event was simply bringing together Ridley riding customers and new friends  for a ride, celebration of all things Belgium (food and beer) and looking at the new 2013 product.

While I am very biased since Ridley is a brand I represent this event was a very unique way for a shop to hold a non-salesy in store (and bike ride) while influencing customers. The event was well attended, the ride was casual but sporty and there was even a couple hundred feet of gravel road riding thrown in there for our “Pave tested” Ridleys.

Does your shop host any events like this? What was your experience when attending or organizing?

 

 

Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable

The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast Episode 90 & 91

Been hanging out every other Saturday bantering about bikes with a buncha guys (and one lady) with the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast.

Listen to the last two that I was present on here:

Episode #91

Topics Included:

How to Listen:

Episode #90

Topics Included:

How to Listen:

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What Makes a Really Good Bicycle Shop?

I asked the question on Facebook and Twitter:

What makes a really good bicycle shop?

I’m opening up the comments and want a good sound off. I’m not giving you any ideas or going to steer the conversation, I want candid thoughts. If you work/own a shop please state so. If you are a consumer that doesn’t go to a shop anymore because of not being able to find what makes a good shop, please say so.

Ready, set, sound off.