“What was a moment when somebody said or did something that made you feel like an outsider in a bike space? Did it trigger unpleasant memories?”
That’s the prompt given by a new project that wants to share stories in order to raise awareness and help make the cycling world a bit more inclusive.
The Shifting Bike Culture blog is collecting and publishing anonymous essays from anyone who has something to share. We heard about it via a tweet from Adonia Lugo, a noted cultural anthropologist, bike culture researcher, and former equity iniative manager for the League of American Bicyclists. Dr. Lugo blogs at Urban Adonia and she’s also a former resident of Portland.
Here’s the explanation of the project taken from the Tumblr page:
Many of us who ride bikes (and would like to get more people on bikes) have experienced confusing moments where we felt like outsiders in bike spaces.
Often we feel alone as we wonder if these moments have to do with the color of our skin; our gender; our ability; our sexual orientation; our age.
These moments happen on rides; in bike shops; in bike co-ops; at advocacy meetings; at conferences; in offices.
We think it’s possible to shift bike cultures so that they welcome more of us. For us, recognizing that many of us have felt excluded is an inclusive move.
The site was just launched today and two stories have come in. One of them shares the story of someone being made to feel bad for riding an electric bike (something we hear about often): “One day, very unexpectedly, a biker on the trail started yelling at me. He told me electric bikes weren’t allowed and to get off. I felt ashamed, angry and hurt.” The other story is about someone who went on their first group road ride. Here’s an excerpt from that subsmission:
“I felt like a total loser when I finally made it to the destination and they were all finishing up their food and one of them said “we never thought you would make it!” Pretty sure I turned even more beet red than I already was. I rode the 5 miles directly home and tried not to cry while I explained to my boyfriend why I did not ride back to the starting location with the rest of the group.”
Whether it’s gender, experience, or physical prowess, the lack of welcoming atmosphere toward “newbies” or others who don’t fit a certain mold has been a persistent problem in the bike world for a long time now. This is an interesting and enlightening way to address the issue. Follow the Shifting Bike Culture Tumblr to read more stories as they come in.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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