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Recap: Latina Women on Wheels

This past year, Women Bike Mini-Grant recipient Marin County Bike Coalition (MCBC)  hosted a learn to ride program for women living in the Canal Area of San Rafael. They dubbed the program Latina Women on Wheels.

They felt it important to empower this group of women by helping them gain access to independent transportation. They knew that in order to be successful, they would have to align themselves with the community and understand their needs. This led to a partnership with Parent Services Project, a nonprofit focused on strengthening and supporting families in Marin County. They worked with Parent Services Project to recruit and register participants. This allowed MCBC to work with bilingual staff at Parent Services, and capture more interest by going where the families they wanted to reach were already utilizing services.

The partnership with Parent Services Project allowed them to provide childcare and meals during the program, removing some barriers these mothers might have to participating.

The course provided all equipment including bikes. The women all came with varying degrees of riding experience, but in the end all women learned to ride and completed a city ride with the group. They learned how to access services by bike, and learn how to navigate existing bike infrastructure. Interested in serving Latina Women in your community? Women Bike recommends learning from the example of MCBC and consider the following:

  • Establish partnerships: Organizations with existing relationships with your desired service population can help you navigate challenges around marketing, registration and communication.
  • Anticipate Needs: MCBC was conscious to seek out donated bikes that offered step through frames and upright riding position. Budget more time that you think in the beginning of the program to work on bike fit to ensure a comfortable first experience on the bike. The step through frames also discouraged male family members from using the bikes–ensuring it would always be available for the woman in the family. Also, if outfitting your participants with bikes, make sure you have a plan for storage. Not all housing options come equipped with a secure place to store a bicycle.
  • Budget for support services: by providing childcare and meals they increased the likelihood busy moms would be able to attend the class.
  • Practice cultural awareness: MCBC recruited a League Cycling Instructor fluent in Spanish to assist participants in comprehension of the program curriculum. Many women didn’t have driver’s licenses, so learning the rules of the road became essential to allowing women to feel safe.

We hosted a webinar with MCBC on how they did it, watch it below: 

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