Last week, Momentum Magazine shared a photo Beyonce had posted of herself on a bicycle, and many readers dismissed the photo, claiming Beyonce didn't represent "real women riders." Momentum, to their credit, held their ground with a thoughtful explanation, and the whole thing got us thinking: what IS a "real" woman rider?
We at Brooklyn Bicycle Co. have been lucky enough to put lots of great women on city bikes over the past few years--bloggers, activists, entrepreneurs, and more--and we wanted to share the conclusion we've come to: any woman who rides a bicycle is a real woman rider.
And here are a few of our favorite ladies--real women riders--on their city bikes. Enjoy!
"I moved to Provo from Copenhagen, Denmark, a bicycle capital. I rode my bike in rain, sun, snow. Though I ride less here because it’s not as equipped for bicyclists, I do take work breaks around town on my 7-speed bike. My husband and I go on dates on our bikes and it’s been a wonderful way to see neighbors out and about."
"On a personal level, riding a bike can change your life. Not only is it super fun to feel the freedom a bicycle brings, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle...[and]...it’s ok to be new at biking...we’re here to help. We can still remember the first time we stepped into a bike shop and how intimidating that can be. No question is a bad question; pretty sure we’ve all asked the same thing at least once before."
" I really think commuting by bike is one of the most awesome, empowering things a person can do."
"Owning a bike has meant a lot of different things to me throughout the years. Back when I was younger, it was my primary means of transportation and it’s how I did everything – from grocery shopping to visiting friends to riding around town just for fun. Later, I started going on longer day rides and even touring for weeks at a time across the state. [...] And now, riding around town on my bike is a really fun alternative to driving a car. [...] It also turns out biking is one of the best things to do in Redlands, CA if you’re interested in meeting people–it’s a sort of conversation piece."
So you see? All these ladies have different relationships with their city bikes, ride differing amounts and for different reasons, but all have real, valid experiences. If we as a community want more women to ride--and we do!--the way to do it is by welcoming and accepting all riders, not just those who bike a certain number of miles a week or who can name all the parts on their bikes.
Making women feel less than because they bike only around town, or because they bike in stylish outfits--or because they DON'T--doesn't broaden or strengthen the biking community. Even though it might feel like excluding others is a unifying experience, it's not a healthy one, and our industry--and the communities we affect--won't benefit.
Want to see more ladies on city bikes? Check out our instagram, where we regram a lot of our riders, and our "Ladies Who Ride" pinterest board! Have things to say about this issue? Leave us a comment or tweet at us!