Welcome, ladies

“Because, you know, I can’t work a bicycle pump” – Judi Dench

Hmm…and that highlights one of the things we need to work on. I don’t know the context in which Dame Judi Dench said that, so I can’t/won’t assume any. But I will use it to launch a thought process about bicycling and opportunity.

As you probably know, I work with the League of American Bicyclists. Part of the mission of LAB is education of the bicycling community in the quest to create a “Bicycle Friendly America.” I enjoy teaching people how to safely and confidently ride their bicycles wherever they would like to ride them.

A quick story to illustrate where I’m going with this post. My daughter and I were on a long-distance/multi-day charity ride several years ago. We were riding with the usual suspects: a bunch of folks who had ridden together for many miles…all guys. She got a flat. We pulled over to deal with it, and a few of the guys jumped in to start fixing it. She waved them off, and changed it herself.

The point: as is often the case, the guys assumed either a) she didn’t know how to change it, or b) she would take too long to do it. But then, her dad teaches people how to do this, and made sure she knew how and and was able to do so.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that we don’t do what we need to do so that people can be self-sufficient. That is too often true in cycling. Everyone who rides should at least understand the basics of how the bike works, how to do at least the very basic repairs/adjustments to keep the bike in good shape, and when it should be taken into a shop for more expert care. And we’ve too often failed in that. Unfortunately it’s especially true for women. They’ve often not been treated well in bike shops, in bike clubs, on bike rides. It’s changing, a bit at a time, but we need to do better.

Welcome, ladies! How can I help?

For more on bicycling and equity, see these posts: “Is This About Bicycling?;” “Riding and Not Seeing.”

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