National Summit Focuses on Women’s Cycling

It’s no secret that the number of U.S. women who ride bicycles for transportation and recreation lags behind that of men.

That’s why it’s vital for women involved in all facets of the cycling world to focus their collective wisdom, talents and experience on attracting more of their peers to cycling — for all its benefits to personal health and well-being and to a greener, more livable world.

Velojoy is proud to support the conversation as a sponsor of and participant in the National Women’s Bicycling Summit in Long Beach, CA on Thurs., Sept. 13.

The half-day conference, which builds on a previous gathering in conjunction with the annual Bike Summit in Washington DC last spring, brings together leaders from across the women’s cycling world to address the question: What can we do to get more women on bikes?

Cycling Popularity Grows

“We’re really at a critical moment,” says Carolyn Szczepanski, communications director of the League of American Cyclists, which is partnering with the Alliance for Cycling & Walking to present the Summit. “The popularity of bicycling is rising quickly and dramatically, and if we want to mainstream biking as an accessible option for everyone and ensure a strong powerful movement that represents all riders, we need to integrate women’s insight and leadership.”

Sara DeShong of the Austin Cycling Association asks a question at the first women’s cycling panel in conjunction with the Bike Summit in Washington DC last spring. Photo: Chris Eichler

Nationally, only 24 percent of bicycle commuter trips are by women. New York City tracks closely with 25 percent, according to a 2012 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Biking & Walking.  The good news is that cycling is growing in popularity and that many cities are making significant strides in building the infrastructure that helps make women feel safer on the roads. In New York City, for example, more than 280 bike lane miles have been added since 2007, and the imminent launch of the largest bike sharing system in the U.S. holds the potential to attract an even wider population to two-wheeled transportation.

Working to Close the Gender Gap

“More and more women are starting to ride, increasing their involvement in advocacy or starting initiatives of their own,” Szczepanski says. “There’s tremendous momentum and energy around this topic and the Summit — and ongoing programming after the Summit — is an opportunity to harness our collective knowledge, build a network of female leaders and start working on targeted solutions to close the gender gap in American bicycling.”

Among highlights of the program is a keynote address by Leah Missbach Day, co-founder of World Bicycle Relief, an organization that supports empowerment of individuals and communities through bicycles. Thereafter, 75-minute breakout panels will focus on these key topics: equity, racing/athletes, car-free families, media and marketing, political engagement and youth.  Read here about the panel on media and marketing entitled “Who’s Selling Cycling to Women?” that I’ll be moderating. I’m excited to be working with these distinguished panelists:

  • Elly Blue, commentator and writer on cycling, publisher of Taking the Lane
  • Yolanda Davis-Overstreet, expert on diversity marketing and communications, creator of the documentary film Ride in Living Color
  • Mia Kohout, co-publisher and editor-in-chief, Momentum Magazine

Also on the agenda is a Cycle Chic Fashion Show with a guest appearance by Mikael Colville-Andersen, who coined the term “cycle chic” and has furthered the idea of the citizen cyclist through his Copenhagenize website and network of Cycle Chic blogs worldwide.  (Andersen will be the keynote speaker of the Pro Walk, Pro Bike Conference in Long Beach that precedes the Summit on Sept. 10 – 13.)

We’ll be posting more about the Summit in weeks to come. In the mean time, here’s how to register.

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