La Course – a giant step for women

By now you’ve probably heard that women’s pro cycling took one giant leap towards equity by earning a stage at the Tour de France.  What makes it even better is that the women’s stage – La Course – will be held on the final day of the Tour, July 27,  on the same course as the final men’s stage.  This is huge for so many reasons, but one intangible that can’t be ignored is the exposure that racing on the Champs-Elysées on the final day of the Tour will give women’s cycling.  Pro women’s cycling will be broadcast on the biggest day of the year with wide international TV, radio, and press coverage.  The lights couldn’t be brighter.  The crowds will be huge.  What a glorious day! Thanks should go to the advocates who fought for this: Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos, Kathrine Bertine, Chrissie Wellington, and everyone who signed petitions and spoke out in support.

To be sure this isn’t a full Tour de France for women yet, but it couldn’t be a more significant start.  I am confident that women will be eventually racing in a complete Tour de France of their own.  What a fantastic step towards that!

All women who ride will benefit from this exposure, whether  they are amateur racers or casual riders or bike commuters.  This will have a carryover effect on women’s cycling at all levels.  Seeing women ride La Course will inspire countless women and girls to ride more.  More demand will mean that bike shops will better support female riders and better service for all women who ride will be an end result.

Many women are intimidated by bike shops that cater to competitive male riders.  They feel they aren’t adequately represented there (I mean really, one rack of women’s jerseys and shorts?  Is that all you’ve got?), male techs often don’t understand the goals of female riders, and we often “make do” with men’s bikes and clothing and equipment.  Respect means representation.  Representation means respect.  I am sure there will be a day when women will not feel intimidated when they go to a bike shop, when we will have a plethora of bikes to choose from, when women’s gear takes up as much retail space as men’s gear.  There will be more bike clubs for women to join and more pro races. More races will be broadcast on TV because we will demand it. More demand will increase better support.  It’s a beautiful circle.

Just this morning while I was out on my daily ride I noticed more women riders than men.  I believe that’s the first time it’s happened.  Could women already be feeling inspired?  I hope so.  The sky is the limit, ladies!


congrats, California! 3-foot law passes

California finally joined 22 other states with its own 3-foot passing law today.  Jerry Brown signed it!

From SF Gate.com:

The proposal from Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, is intended to better protect cyclists from aggressive drivers. It states that if drivers cannot leave 3 feet of space, they must slow down and pass only when it would not endanger the cyclist’s safety.

The law will go into effect Sept. 16, 2014. Current law requires a driver to keep a safe distance when passing a bicyclist but does not specify how far that is.

At least 22 states and the District of Columbia define a safe passing distance as a buffer of at least 3 feet, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

Bradford’s bill, AB1371, was sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an avid cyclist who was injured in 2010 after a taxi driver abruptly pulled in front of him. It also drew support from several cyclist groups, such as the California Association of Bicycling Organizations.

Whoo hoo!  Go out for a ride to celebrate!


a women’s Tour de France update

Check out Le Tour Entier – a campaign to improve women’s cycling, starting with the Tour de France.

Momentum is building for a women’s Tour de France and it’s got some pretty amazing names behind it: Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Chrissie Wellington.  These impressive women are tops in women’s pro racing and competitive sports. They say:

We established this campaign to help support the growth of women’s cycling and build a sport with greater consumer, media and commercial appeal – starting with a women’s race at the Tour de France.

In the link you’ll find their manifesto, a petition, news & media links, FAQ, and a kit/jersey for sale to support the cause.  It’s inspiring!

They hope to have a pilot race going in 2014, alongside the men’s race.  This would be a shorter race than the traditional men’s Tour de France and would give race fans a nice taste of what a women’s Tour de France could be.

It won’t be easy; women’s races are not as popular as men’s races.  But with exposure and support I hope this momentum builds and we will soon see more media coverage of women’s races.  I’d love to find women’s races in my channel lineup!

Would you watch a women’s Tour de France?


AB1371, CA’s 3-Foot Passing Law Passes Senate

Good news!

From KCRA.com:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —The state Senate has approved a bill that would require drivers to stay at least three feet away from bicyclists when they are passing in the same direction.

Lawmakers approved AB1371 by Democratic Assemblyman Steven Bradford of Gardena on a 31-7 vote Monday, despite Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a nearly identical bill last year.

The governor had said he is worried about the possibility of increased crashes if drivers cross the center line or slow down too much to pass cyclists.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, who carried the bill in the Senate, said California is one of 32 states that have so-called “safe distance laws” to protect bicyclists, but at least 22 states specify the three-foot buffer as a safe distance.

Read more: http://www.kcra.com/news/bill-mandates-3foot-buffer-between-cars-bikes/-/11797728/21658704/-/xx0tcp/-/index.html#ixzz2dD68FrDZ

How many times have you been nearly run off the road?  Have you had drivers swerve towards you in order to intimidate you?  Have you even had your handlebars clipped?

I hope Jerry Brown doesn’t veto it this time.  I have to say, his reasoning last time was bullshit.  If you have to cross the center line to pass a cyclist when there’s oncoming traffic, wait until the traffic clears.  It isn’t rocket science.  If you’re too stupid to figure that out, how’d you get your driver’s license?

We have a right to the road.  Respect us and we’ll respect you.


more about women and cycling

Within its ground-breaking report about women and cycling, the League of American Bicyclists presented:

Wow:  60% of 17-28 year old bicycle owners are women!  I surely didn’t expect that statistic.  The growth in bike commuting is also pretty impressive:  56% growth in just four years.  And check out Myth #9: men are not necessarily the face of cycling advocacy; 45% of paid staff at advocacy organizations are women.  Also? There are 630 active women’s cycling blogs.  We really are on a roll and the momentum is building.

The report can be downloaded in .pdf form here:  Women on a Roll.

Here are some of the health statistics from the report that I find most encouraging:

  • Bicycling just 20 miles per week reduces women’s risk of heart disease by 50%.
  • Active commuting — biking and walking — reduces women’s risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% (compared to 9% for men).
  • Women with an active commute of just 30 minutes were half as likely to suffer heart failure as women who didn’t have an active commute.
  • Women who walk or bike 30 minutes per day had a lower rate of breast cancer.

I overcame serious illness through cycling and I’ve stayed incredibly healthy over the last five years of being car-free.  I haven’t even had a cold in five years!  I can certainly attest to the incredible health benefits I’ve seen in my own life.  I feel healthier now than I was at half my age.  A little creakier maybe, but definitely healthier and much more fit.

Also described in the report: the five Cs of women’s bicycling:  comfort, convenience, confidence, consumer products, and community.

There is a lot of good information there. Please do yourself a favor and take a little bit of time to read it.  It’s inspiring!  I’m sure a lot of you already know much of what’s outlined in the report but having it laid out so clearly in one comprehensive report and with excellent references is eye-opening.  And it motivates me even more!  I hope you are equally as inspired as I am.

Ride to live; live to ride!


bicycling stats: how do you ride?

Bicycling Magazine asked its readers how they ride, where they go, how far, and how often.  One thing is certain: more people are riding bikes for more purposes now than ever.  Bicycling is no longer only a leisure activity.  Many people commute to work and ride bikes to run errands.  Many people live life on their bikes.  Are you one of them?

Some of the statistics, excerpted:

How often do you ride your bike to and from work?

Every day: 30%
Several times a week: 30%
Several times a month: 12%
Several times a year: 11%
Never: 17%

Do you wear a helmet when you ride for transportation?

Always: 80%
Almost always: 9%
Sometimes: 4%
Almost never: 2%
Never: 5%

Not including your commute, how frequently do you ride your bike for transportation?

Every day: 13%
Several times a week: 31%
Several times a month: 26%
Several times a year: 18%
Never: 12%

All statistics from Bicycling Magazine’s Reader Survey.

There are more interesting statistics in the link, so check it out! Where do you fit?


women cyclist web resources

kobieta_na_rowerze

As more women get serious about cycling, there’s been nice growth in women-centric web resources.  And today, a big report is now available.  It’s called Women on a Roll (pdf, 22 pages) and it includes a wealth of valuable information about women and cycling.  It also highlights some inspirational women leaders.

The League of American Bicyclists has a list of women’s bike resources.  It includes:

  • Stats on Women & Bicycling
  • Key Research on Women & Bicycling
  • Top Books for the Women Bike Reader
  • Women Bike Entrepreneurs
  • Women Bike Blogs and Media

Click through the list (link is above) and immerse yourself in good stuff!