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Beyond Spandex, Toward Social Justice: Women Redefining the Movement

In cities across the country, long-standing stereotypes of the American bicyclist are falling away. As more women and people of color start riding in their diverse communities, MAMILs — middle-aged men in Lycra — are becoming just one face in the growing crowd.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2001, caucasians accounted for 83 percent of bicycle trips. By 2009, that number had dropped to 77 percent. Last year, in a study about the bicycling renaissance in North America, Rutger’s researcher John Pucher emphasized that “cycling rates are rising fastest among African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans.”

From Los Angeles to New York City, from Minneapolis to Philadelphia, women are leading the way in this transformation of the bicycle movement — and several inspiring women will share their stories and best practices at the National Women’s Bicycling Summit on September 13 in Long Beach, Calif. Read more below and get your ticket today — there’s fewer than 50 spots remaining!

(Clockwise from top left) Stoscheck, Ovarian Psycos, Mannos, Gavin (right)

Beyond Spandex, Toward Social Justice: Women Redefining the Movement

Diversity and equity are quickly becoming buzz words in bicycle advocacy, as organizations seek to address the homogeneity of “the movement.” There’s tremendous leadership, action and innovation occurring both within and beyond the model of traditional bike coalitions. Working with and within disadvantaged and marginalized communities, women from diverse backgrounds are erasing stereotypes about bicyclists and consciously directing efforts to incorporate social justice. This session will provide insight and examples from bicycle programs that are inspiring, empowering and being led by women who are expanding and redefining the future of the movement.


  • Caroline Samponaro is the Director of Bicycle Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, an 8,000-member pro-bicycling non-profit founded in 1973. Caroline is one of the nation’s foremost advocates for cycling and has spearheaded New York City’s rapid transformation into a bicycle-friendly city. She has directed campaigns that address all areas of bicycling, from developing new neighborhood bike lane networks, to educating cyclists about their responsibilities on the road, to leading national roundtables of experts on public bike share systems. Caroline is frequently quoted in the New York Times, Bicycling Magazine and New York Magazine, and she is a sought-out speaker on urban bicycling culture, the growth of cycling among women, and the history of bicycling in America. Caroline holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University.


  • After guiding bicycle tours in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest for 4 years, Kristin Gavin moved to Philadelphia in 2007 to pursue a Master’s in Exercise and Sport Psychology at Temple University with a specific interest in physical activity promotion as an effective tool for combating anxiety and depression among women. While working on her degree, Kristin worked as a research fellow for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, worked miscellaneous jobs with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and started a fitness program for residents at a drug and alcohol recovery home for women in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. In May 2009, Gavin founded Gearing Up, a nonprofit bicycle program providing women in transition from abuse, addiction and incarceration with the opportunity to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth. Gearing Up partners with residential and outpatient women’s recovery and re-entry programs as well as the Philadelphia County Women’s Prison to help women in recovery and re-entry use the bicycle as a tool for emotional, social and physical health. She is an elite mountain and cyclocross team member of TeamCycstic Fibrosis.
  • Allison Mannos has worked for LAANE as a communications specialist on the Construction Careers and Grocery Retail projects since Fall 2011. She is interested in finding multidisciplinary, policy-oriented solutions to alleviate urban poverty and environmental problems in communities of color. Allison previously worked for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition as their urban strategy director on City of Los Angeles-related campaigns, policy and communications. In 2008, she co-founded and was the program manager for the award-winning City of Lights Program, which advocates, organizes, and educates Latina/o, low-income cyclists in Central, South and East Los Angeles She continues to serve on that program’s board. Allison also was a co-founding member of CicLAvia.
  • Ovarian Psycos is an all-womyn bicycle brigade, cycling for the purpose of healing communities physically, emotionally, and spiritually by addressing pertinent issues through cycling. Through group rides such as the all-womyn Luna ride, transgressive art/iconography and programming centered around issues of womyn of color, we have begun that process while gaining international attention. Las Ovas will celebrate its two-year anniversary this summer by bringing LA its first ever Clitoral Mass on the blue moon, August 31. We are also working to open a community bike space in Boyle Heights next year.
  • Claire Stoscheck is an organizer, cyclist, and activist who is the Director of the Community Partners Bike Library — one of the three co-Directors of Cycles for Change — a non-profit in the Twin Cities, MN. Claire has worked extensively in bike advocacy and social justice in the United States and in Quito, Ecuador, with a particular focus on bike feminism and transportation justice. She also organizes in immigrant rights movements, local food justice movements, and anti-resource extraction movements. She holds a B.A. in Community Organizing for Sustainable Living from Macalester College.

Register for the Women’s Summit!

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