A women’s celebration last week of Citi Bike share’s launch in New York City was the gift that kept on giving. I came away from a day of group riding with women who are similarly passionate about cycling thinking that we need to make more of these gifts happen. Because they’re fun and because they have the potential to inspire.
Silver-helmeted Kim Wiley-Schwartz.
Virginia Nam (left) and fashion designer and bicycle commuter Rebecca Minkoff.
The good news is that more of these communal efforts, like the global CycloFemme and the upcoming Rapha Women’s 100, and locally, the new summer road cycling series hosted by Bicycle Habitat and the rides presented by WE Bike NYC, are being organized to help attract women to cycling.
The New York City event brought together a dynamic group from the worlds of advocacy, government, business and athletics for a morning reception at Bicycle Habitat in Soho and a social ride on the blue Citi Bikes, followed later in the day by road cycling around the Central Park loop led by Olympian Evelyn Stevens.
Olympian Evelyn Stevens (left) chats with NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. (Photo: Dmitry Gudkov)
The focus was on the freedom of cycling as New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joined Stevens and members of the Specialized lulu lemon women’s pro cycling team to highlight the advantages of the first new public transit option to hit New York City streets since the introduction of municipal bus service.
From the local racing community, Jen Nordhem (left) and Hannah Trimble.
I’d like to think that the dawning of clear skies that turned both rides from predicted no-goes to exuberant outings was karmic. And maybe it was. Although the Citi Bikes themselves were the stars of the show on the morning ride on Manhattan’s Lower East Side – eliciting thumbs up from construction workers and cheers from school children – there’s no doubt that large groups of women riding together in a group elicit attention. The good kind that might be open to the message “Hey, anybody can do this” in a city where women are outnumbered 3 to 1 in bicycle commuting.
Above and below: A group ride on Citi Bikes wove through the Lower East Side to the East River. (Photo above: Dmitry Gudkov)
More than 60 women, some representing New York City’s women’s cycling teams and others like myself, road cycling enthusiasts, convened in late afternoon for the Central Park ride. Beyond the great spirit and energy among the participants themselves, there was visual power in this large gathering — inside the confines of the park, but even more so on the city streets where a sense of possibility at a pivotal moment in this city’s cycling story was palpable.
Evelyn Stevens (center) surrounded by members of Team Specialized lulu lemon led the group ride in Central Park, which was followed by a party at Bicycle Habitat’s Chelsea shop.
For more photo goodness from the day, check photographer Dmitry Gudkov’s Bikenyc: New York Bike Portraits facebook album.