Tour de Queens This Sunday

Take a break from viewing that other Tour on TV, and get on your bike this weekend. Sunday’s Tour de Queens, sponsored by Transportation Alternatives, pushes off at 9 a.m. from Flushing Meadows Park near the Queens Museum of Art. This is a good one for the whole family: The leisurely, mostly flat, 20-mile ride wends through the parks and neighborhoods of eastern and northern Queens. Sign up here, or limited registration will be available on the day of the event, starting at 8 a.m.
Also, check out a special offer on Cycle to Citi Field Day, for the Mets versus Milwaukee Brewers game on August 21.

New York Times Focuses on Female Cyclists

The must-read article of the week is Christine Haughney’s report in the Times on the continuing gender gap between male and female cyclists:

Despite the city’s efforts to become more bike friendly, male cyclists in New York continue to outnumber female cyclists three to one, just as they have steadily over the past two decades.

But there’s reason for optimism, too. Cycling among women in New York City is up. The Department of Transportation website reports that the gender gap narrowed between 2001 and 2008. Further, Department of City Planning data shows that the number of women riding bikes in on-street lanes in Manhattan is increasing faster than male riders. (Read more in “Demystifying NYC’s Cycling Gender Gap” on Streetsblog.)

This points to substantial potential for building female ridership in the future. The key barrier cited by the Times and well-documented elsewhere: Women need to feel safe on the streets.

Under the leadership of Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the city added more than 200 bike lane miles between 2006 and 2009, and studies show a positive correlation between improved infrastructure and female bicycle ridership.

A secondary issue noted in the article: Especially in fashion-obsessed New York City, women are concerned about arriving at their destinations sweaty and toting bike gear.

As an everyday rider, I was disappointed that the article didn’t include comments from women who ride happily and comfortably in the bike lanes and who have cracked the perspiration code. (Honestly, it’s just not that big a deal; freshening up after a ride requires little more than a well-planned stop in the women’s room.)

Bottom line: The potential to attract more women to the bike lanes is there. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Shops that Cater to Female Cyclists, Yes Please!

Part of the answer to encouraging more women to ride may be building community around cycling. Over at the Birdwheel, the New York City-based, collaborative women’s blog on cycling, there’s a profile of Robin Bylenga, who runs Pedal Chic, an innovative shop in Greenville, SC. Robin designed her shop around creating a better experience for female customers, not only in the products and services offered, but also in shop-based programming, which includes plenty of opportunities for women to socialize around cycling. I’ve been a fan from afar since Bylenga opened her doors last year!

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