American Bicycle Girl

Girl Bike Power in LA

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I LOVE all the women bike empowerment I keep learning of in LA. And the most exciting piece is how we’ll soon be able to connect all these groups through the League’s Women Bike Program. Here’s a short list of wonderful women bike groups I’ve become acquainted with from the four weeks I’ve lived in LA + my fresh off the boat perspective.

1. Ovarian Psyco-Cycles – “Sometimes our ovarian cycles make us turn into ovarian psycosAs such, we invite you to ride off the stress and get a workout and connect with other wombyn on the streets of Los Angeles”

Yes! A cycling sisterhood. These gals organize fun rides like Clitoral (Critical) Mass and Luna Rides every full moon! They’re also incredibly active with Take Back The Night and womens rights. While I’m not the kind of lady to sport a cog-ovary handkerchief over my face, I cannot wait to connect with this close-knit female collective. Why? The Ovas offer a space for women and raise awareness about the difficulties of riding in the city as a woman.

I’ve already mentioned moving to LA has been a huge struggle, and finally I can expand. When I’m out on the streets, I’m a target. Riding a bike as a young woman here is scary, as is riding any public transit! Men catcall and moan at me from the sidewalks, under bridges, or their cars, approach me as I’m locking or unlocking my bike emphasizing that they’re single or just stare at me when on the bus/metro. I love being car-free here, I hate the sexualized attention. It makes me feel vulnerable, and that’s crap! I’ll have to share these experiences with the Ovas soon. That’ll help me feel more comfortable here on my bike!

2. Iron Unicorns – Female activists dedicated to creating equality for women cyclists, both on the streets and in society; to create an environment of togetherness and comradery among women and other cyclists regardless of gender.

With a focus on multi-culturalism, feminist ideology and riding in solidarity with people of different backgrounds, these gals are all about helping women in our communities feel confident to get on a bike and ride. Thanks to Last Nights Ride (promoting fun on 2 wheels; photography of LA’s vibrant bike festivals, rides, parties and tours) and the Bike Oven’s monthly Spoke(n) Art Ride, I had the opportunity to meet founder Michelle Padilla!
               

3. Bodacious Bike Babes – Another girl bike group! The BBBs are wildly fun and popular. When they’re not working CicLAvia as hub volunteers or route angels, they’re riding their traditional route to Golden Road Brewery for drinks, gathering ladies for a new monthly Womens Bike Brunch, or just plainly building energy for the next crazy biker party. They work closely with the LA County Bicycle Coalition on growing the current 16% of cyclists who are women (stats from last year’s bicycle count). They also work hard at breaking down the ‘too dangerous’ feeling most women have when thinking about street cycling (advocates are increasingly pointing to women riders’ safety concerns as a way of advancing a broader agenda of making streets better for all cyclists and pedestrians, of all ages).

I met Mama B, or Andrea last Friday at the Treats and Beats/BBB/Monday Night Rehab biker’s castle bash last Friday. We clicked. She gave me a BBB button. Now I’m a BBB! Done. Can’t wait to attend upcoming ladies only sleepover + fix a flat party.

4. Team Luna Chix – A national competitive and recreational women cycling club! There’s a local chapter in LA. LUNA Chix Local Teams bring together women interested in learning new sports, staying active and inspiring others to do the same. “We are a team of women who love to ride our bikes and are dedicated to getting more women into the sport that we’re passionate about.  Join us between April and October for free weekly rides every Tuesday out of Pasadena Cyclery.  Our rides are geared toward beginners who want to improve their cycling skills.”

I’d like to join Team Luna Chix! Even more inspiring, a Luna lady won this past weekend’s UCI Elite Women Spooky Kross race. And she’s a redhead!

5. Swirl Scouts – a bike art girl activism + skill trade group. They make patches! more info soon.

6. Bicycle Bitchen – Monday nights are reserved for women at the Bicycle Kitchen Co-Op. I’ve yet to go, but can’t wait to check it! Straight from the website:

Bicycle Bitchen is a weekly women and transgendered-only night at the Bicycle Kitchen. We encourage women of all skill levels to experiment and explore while learning bike mechanics and maintenance in a comfortable atmosphere. Come experience the satisfaction and joy of building, fixing or souping up your own bike with a group of women who love bicycling. Monday nights, from 6:30-9:30 pm we open up the space to make it more welcoming to women and transgendered folks by staffing the shop by women and trans cooks for women and trans only. We ask that men respect this by coming back during our other open hours. We’re open to doing special workshops for women’s, feminist, or LGBTI groups. If you are interested contact us at: kitchen@bicyclekitchen.com, LA Times article

7. Women in Bike Polo! There’s a team, close to Gorilla, but Girilla? More info soon! There’s even a push for more women in this punky sport of hitting a ball around with a mallet while balancing on a bike. I attended Tuesday Rookie night the other day and it was a blast! LA Bike Polo is quite the movement here. Everyone is very encouraging of new people getting into the sport. I never gave Blacksburg Bike Polo a shot, but here there’s a huge culture around the sport with weekly pick-up games.

8. Women on Bikes SoCal – primarily based in Long Beach, I met Melissa Balmer while at Pro Walk Pro Bike 2012. more info coming!

Ok people, what other women bike groups/events am I missing in LA? I’m posting this blog now, and will add more before I send off to League of American Bicyclists and others who will be amazed! There is incredible energy here for encouraging women to bike. I love it.

Lastly, here’s a great article on why all these women-focused grassroots groups could mean a safer, healthier, more livable LA: Sisterhood of the traveling bikes

Author: Lyndsay McKeever

Virginia Tech Alternative Transportation Intern. Student Government Association Transportation Director. Active Transportation Advocate and Commuter Cyclist. Sustainability Girl. VT Cycling Team Member.

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