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10 Women to Ride 262 Miles to the Summit

While hundreds will arrive by planes, trains and automobiles, a select, inspirational few will travel hundreds of miles to get to the National Bike Summit on two wheels.

A few years back, I was awe-struck (and, yes, incredibly jealous) when Bicycle Times editors, Karen Brooks and Adam Newman rode more than 350 miles (unsupported!) from Pittsburgh to the nation’s capital for the 2012 Summit.

Well, this year, 10 women from New York City, Phildelphia and Washington, D.C. are going above and beyond — not just showcasing the joy of riding, but highlighting the importance of diverse voices at the biggest bicycle advocacy event of the year.

WE Bike to DC is raising funds to sponsor ten female bicycle activists to ride 262 miles from New York City to the nation’s capital. If you’ve been following Women Bike, you’ll recognize the riders. They’re architects of new innovative groups, up-and-coming leaders who are engaging in local efforts to get more women, from diverse backgrounds on bikes, including WE Bike NYC, Gearing-Up, Black Women Bike DC, Washington Area Bicyclist Association: Women and Bicycles, and Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition: Women Bike PHL.

So why are they choosing to dedicate so many hours of organizing, fundraising ($11,000!) and riding to attend the Bike Summit this year? 

While in DC, WE will advocate for women of all backgrounds to have a seat at the table that sets national transportation policy. Despite being woefully under-represented in decision-making, the number of women who commute to work has increased 56% in the last year. Lower income individuals (earning less than $30,000) accounted for 28% of bike trips in 2009 — more than 1.1 billion bike trips overall. Our goal is to support the League of American Bicyclists’ efforts to include underrepresented cyclists at the decision making table through the inclusion of ten voices that would not be able to attend the summit without the financial support generated by this ride.

Our efforts will bring ten new female voices to the table full of new, diverse opinions, ideas and concerns for our transportation future. WE understand that women will soon make up half of the cyclists in the US and that while WE have common goals, WE also represent a myriad of other groups including people of color, low income people, transgender people, new riders, and others often not represented in the national conversation. WE hope to inspire more to come forward with their own priorities and we hope the attention we generate will help them be heard.

Who’s coming forward on this ride? Young women like Ayesha McGowan, an Atlanta native and Brooklyn resident, who is one of the key leaders for WE Bike NYC. For her, the group is more than a source of knowledge and community. “I’ve developed a sense of pride, and found my voice as a minority and a woman,” she says. “WE Bike NYC has also given me a platform to encourage several other women in my life to ride. My mom has joined a riding group in NJ, and my sister found inspiration from the moms to ride with her son on Mother’s day for Cyclofemme. Even my three-year-old nephew has a bike now! Bikes for everyone!”

Read interviews with all of the WE Bike to DC women here!

Once again, I’m awe-struck — and, yes, incredibly jealous. But more than that: We’re proud to welcome such a phenomenal group to the Forum and Summit. 

If you’re inspired by their work and dedication; if you support more women riding and more diverse participation in the bike movement, please consider making a contribution.

And if you haven’t yet, register for the Summit and National Women’s Bicycling Forum today. Just three weeks left to save $100 with early registration rates!