Saturday, March 20, 2010

Women and the city.

Over the last few years the number of women that I have seen on the bike lane, met, and befriended continues to increase. Earlier this week, I took along with a few of my friends, a survey by The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (
Find it here»

One of my favorite questions, there were several answers, was:
Why do you use a bicycle?
☐It's the best part of my day
Back in Spring 2009, I submitted a short questionnaire that eventually got printed in the Summer 09 issue of Momentum, I think I forgot to post it here, but you can find it below, in which I thought about their last question and said:
[From: Real Life on a Bike -Meli ]
Anything else you’d like to add?
My bike is my shrink, best friend,

conversation starter, mood enhancer, and gym.
All in one, every day.

Which I think, links directly to many of the questions in the survey. I really get in a foul mood if I don't ride my bicycle for over a day. And I'm serious. Sure there are obstacles and excuses if you must. Hills and traffic are a sometimes a bitch to get over somedays, but well. You just get over them.

Here in San Francisco we got tremendous hills, and tremendous bike theft. Those two alone hold back many of my girlfriends (non-bikers) from biking and using their bikes for commuting.
Also, they are lazy. It is true. And fact is, takes quite the energy to put up with the rhythm this fine city has to offer. I have done the route that takes one of them to get to work. She says it takes 55 minutes, because, you know, the bus might running late. DONE-Lady, I have done that route from your house to your work, at my slow speed. You WILL be there in 25 minutes. But I suppose she likes being inside the bus for 2 hours twice a day. Oh well.

My thoughts about women and cycling, here in San Francisco have always been optimistic. When I really wanted to meet a ton of people on bikes when i was in school, I met some women, but mostly guys. The fixie craze was going strong and it was just too much for me to handle. I always thought the bicycle community was quite intimidating and it wasn't until I finished school that I really had the time to mingle and roam around even further. Riding to work everyday, volunteering often with the SFBC, joining rides Etc. became the real exposure to the bicycle community, and along were women. Then came the blogesphere, and I met even more. *Ade recently wrote a post along with a charming photo, meet some of us here»

So my women, get more of your girlfriends to ride. I have even given a free bicycle to one of them, and don't think she has used it yet. The intent is there. Yet I meet more and more everyday from the bikelane that find the will, the curiosity and the inspiration they need from all over the place. It is really great.

With that, I link this article one of my fave women on wheels in Seattle, RJ, let me know about:
Women find liberation on two wheels by Laura McCamy
And also, two shots of parents that are doing their part to build a bright future, with their daughters on bicycles. I am lucky to know them because they inspire me, and it really is a happy feeling when you encounter them around in San Francisco:
Like mom, like daughter.
Ade and Úna | Like mom, like daughter.
Bike lane futurama.
Adam and his daughters |
Bike lane futurama.


  1. "My bike is my shrink, best friend, conversation starter, mood enhancer, and gym.
    All in one, every day. "

    I like that.

  2. Meli, I love your blog so much. Just wanted to tell you when I feel frustrated about riding my bike, you inspire me to keep going! Thanks for posting this and hope to see you and your cute bike in SF <3

  3. Great post! Thanks for highlighting some of the obstacles but mostly the practical A-to-B aspect and the fun and easy entry to a community. More women on bikes makes it all the better for all of us!

  4. Lovely, inspiring post, Meli!

    It seems nearly impossible to imagine a bicycle lifestyle if one hasn't lived in a bike-friendly city or bike-culture. I'm personally so grateful for living in both in Davis, California. And my current home, Santa Barbara, is also very bike-centric. But I grew up in an auto-centric environment in southern California, and now I know it's just not for me. I make lifestyle choices that allow me to cycle because it's also the best part of my day.

    In order for women and cities to imagine and create bike-friendly places, we need people like you - role models - to lead the way.


    Hope some ladies here take the time to fill out the APBP survey.

  5. I want a bike. I ride my boyfriend's sometimes, and it makes me feel like a kid. I actually don't know why I don't have one...

  6. Great post : ) In the UK a survey has shown that 79% (!) of women don't cycle because they don't feel safe, the cycling infrastructure is still quite poor, fainted painted line on the road, usually narrower than 1m, sandwiched amongst double decker buses... it's not for the faint hearted. I myself plan my routes very well, to try and avoid the busiest roads, rather not take the chance with crazy drivers lol!

    But things are slowly changing, councils are realising the huge benefits cities/towns would gain if more people cycled and less drove...

    And the cycling culture is growing too, with the realisation that you can cycle in your normal clothes to go about your daily routine and even have fun!!

    Cycle love ♥

  7. I'll echo what's already been said, but this is a great post & very inspiring indeed - thank you!

  8. Hi Meli,

    I'm an avid biker in SF, I say I bike like they do in Denmark. Just as a way of life, to get around. It's freeing in many ways, especially to someone really obsessed with fashion. It lets me wear heels! Because all I have to do is roll up to my destination and lock up my bike. It saves me time, money and is a little bit of exercise. But most of all, riding my bike is fun!

  9. Meli, great post. I loved your comments about what your daily ride means to you, i totally agree! i ride in part to be the best possible version of myself...

  10. This is a great article! Some days I see lots of women in the bike lanes and some days I see only men. My optimism depends on the day, I suppose. I really should try to get more of my girlfriends cycling. I usually don't mention or push it, unless someone brings it up. I did give my best friend a bike for her birthday (Smurfette!) and now she rides to work, except during the winter. One down - countless to go :)

    Thanks for being such an awesome inspiration!

  11. Have ridden bikes since age 7 and lived in European cities where helmeted clones didn't exist. Just convinced my wife to ride with me yesterday. Lovely way for us two girls to enjoy SF's Presidio. Taught her how to signal, ride safely by parked cars, etc. Only marred a bit by the helmeted enthusiast who lectured me to wear one, just before he blew through a red light and a blind intersection. Let's just ride the Dutch way and be done with the politicizing of a simple joy.

  12. WWanderer/ thank you!

    san/ thanks as always lovely, it is great to hear your sweet note, thank you very much :D cant wait til you visit SF soon <3

    mike/ yes! it is slowly increasing but we will get there, we all need inspirations from one source or another. thx and cant wait to see ya +all the nopa-nittes tomorrow :D

  13. christa/ I have yet to experience the biking in Davis, I have only visited as a kid. It would be nice if people in non-biker friendly places would really push the living that lighting up on the car needs would bring. The best part of the day as you say - I couldn't agree more and only hope that people that don't experience that on a daily basis, I just quite don't understand why. +thank you as well for being in touch and inspiring people in SB as well <3

    Essence B./ hey dear, that is a great step, borrow one and get to a park, and when you get yourself one keep me posted, k?! xo-m.

    Lorenza/ I had multiple concerns when I started to bike daily and can see why it can be quite intimidating. There are crazy drivers, bikers and pedestrians especially in the busier cities than in spread out places. I couldnt imagine a double-decker next to me that seems crazy!
    City leaders need to get their act together and act logistically with us, people that roam them and use the streets on an equal level than motorists.
    Being 'normal' also needs to be exposed and we all do our part by being present in our own places and letting other people know that is 'normal' to do so.
    Much love to you too darling!

  14. lady velo/ ♥!

    Mai/ it certainly is, and if anyone is experienced with crazy streets, mad hills and stylish riders all in one, is us here in SF. thanks for sharing your thoughts and stay in touch!! - great to hear from you lovely :D

    Hayley/ thanks for reading and dropping a note. I just discovered your blog and it is great to hear from so many bicycle people exp. state-side. We got to expose the great benefits of the bicycle and lead by example, -Cheers!

    Dottie/ I'm a happy optimist, but sometimes i cant help when reality kicks in. There are days that are just super hectic in crazy SF, but we must go on and we will get there, more people will join the movement. That is awesome that you gave the bike to your friend, you should send us a little story to CYLRAB, we love posting stories as such. Thanks for your comments and by leading in Chicago. love, always!

    Anonymous/ The presidio is a wonderful place, I'm happy to hear you and your wife were biking there. I'm happy to hear more non-lycra or tourist people roam around there. We need more of us normal peeps around the beautiful space. Some cyclists are just plain out rude with each other, a sense of urgency I dont quite understand. thanks for sharing your comments +joy!


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