Womxn Who Ride | Vancouver Bike Share | Mobi

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March 04 2020
Womxn Who Ride
Womxn* who ride are on the rise! 

 Vancouver is showing some positive trends when it comes to gender equality, accessibility, and safety - but there is still a long way to go. Just 35% of people who commute by bike in Vancouver identify as female. The good news is that’s a significant jump from 1996 where the number was only 27%. 

 Within the Mobi by Shaw Go Community, we get to know so many incredible individuals who have a story to tell. So this month, in honour of International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight four amazing womxn who shared their stories, experiences, and advice about cycling.

*Used to demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness, intersectionality, and diverse perspectives.

We talked with Alex, Suzie, Finley, Jordan, and Lexi to learn about their experiences, tips, tricks, and stories about bikes and cycling.

Alex 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?



Hi, my name is Alex! I grew up in interior BC and moved to Vancouver six years ago. I work in marketing at an event production company, but previously worked at Mobi by Shaw Go on the marketing team. 
 
Who or What inspired you to take up riding a bike?


As a child, I always rode bikes with my friends after school. However, it wasn’t a part of my daily routine until I moved to Vancouver. I first started riding to work every day when I was in university and biking to work was the cheapest way to get to my job. Now, I still ride to work every day because it is faster than any other mode of transportation, I get my cardio in, and I get to avoid the frustration of rush hour traffic. 

In what ways has cycling been a part of your life?


Cycling is part of my everyday routine; it helps wake me up in the morning and relieve stress on my way home from work. One of my favourite ways to spend the weekend is riding along the seawall, and Mobi by Shaw Go is great because it gives you the flexibility to leave your bike at any station. I often ride a Mobi downtown, then I walk between cafes and shops, and grab a bike from another station on the other side of the city to get home later that day. 


 
What do you think is the biggest barrier for new cyclists (in particular, womxn), and how did you overcome that?  


In my experience, the biggest barrier to biking to work was the idea of getting sweaty and having to wear workout clothes. I have biked to meetings wearing professional clothes and even a skirt without a problem. For commuting, I pack a change of clothes for work and have a shower when I arrive. Lots of businesses now have showers in their offices, and there is always the option of changing at the gym near your work. It is really much easier to find a solution than you think!  
 
Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is interested in or getting started with cycling?


Invest in proper gear. You will be surprised how much you enjoy cycling in the rain when you have fully waterproof rain pants, a seam-sealed rain jacket, and warm gloves. It is really peaceful and quiet on the roads on a rainy evening, but if you don’t have the right rain gear, you are just uncomfortable and wet! 

Suzie


 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?



From Ireland I’ve been a visitor on Coast Salish lands for 9 years. Outside of my bicycle life, I work in adult education in the Downtown Eastside. My bicycle’s name is Margaret. 
 
Who or What inspired you to take up riding a bike?


When I think of who inspired me to ride, I think of two times in my life. From the ages of 3 - 4  I spent a lot of time on the back of my Mum’s “high nelly” (a term for vintage bikes in Ireland). It was the 80’s in Ireland so the fact my mum, a woman was  bravely cycling around the city, with her kid on the back to run all her errands was pretty impressive and inspiring to me. If she could do it, then I could.  Today I can still remember the gentle sway of being in that old school steel frame child seat as Mum pedalled up and down the hills with all the groceries. 
 
There really wasn’t much biking between the ages of 4 and 30. Then I moved from Ireland to Vancouver where I was inspired by two of my coworkers who cycled everyday to work, rain or shine. With their help and advice, I had the confidence to pick a bike, get some basic commuting gear and start commuting. Once I started there was no turning back, I loved that cycling saved me money, gave me the freedom to choose my route to work and gave me an opportunity to get ‘accidental exercise’ on the way there and back. 
 
In what ways has cycling been a part of your life?


For me, the bicycle is just a way of life, it’s a way of being. Being on a bicycle gives me a sense of joy, calm and accomplishment whether it’s commuting to work, running errands, taking on multi-day tours or just cycling around the city with friends. 
 
In the Summer of 2018, I made the decision to step outside of my regular routine and cycle across Canada. This journey had a big impact on my life and taught me so much about who I am as a person, my ability to overcome my fears and my determination. I realized on this journey I knew very little about how my bicycle actually worked so by the time I got to St John’s NL I was determined to make a change.  I started working in a bike shop, went back to school and became a qualified bike mechanic. Since then I’ve felt motivated to share my learning with others so I’ve created my own social impact venture Being on a Bicycle which aims to make everyday cycling inclusive and accessible for womxn through online and in person bike education programmes like basic bike maintenance. 
 
I see cycling as one of the most important things we can do to make for a happier and healthier population, city and planet. 
 

 
Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is interested in or getting started with cycling? 

 
For me what made a huge difference was chatting to folks in my social networks I knew who cycled, asking them for advice and tips. Then I just made the leap, got a bike and began testing different routes to work and around the city that I felt safest on. From there my confidence grew. In terms of buying gear folks can build up what they need slowly, aside from the important safety accessories of course. For example, in my case when I needed to carry stuff on my bike I started with a milk crate on my bike and then upgraded to Ortlieb panniers which I still have 6 years later. I invested in a good rain jacket but I’ve been using my ski pants (as I had them already) for winter commuting for years too. 



You can catch more of Suzie and her bicycle related adventures on her Instagram @being_onabicycle or on her new blog!

Finley


 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?



My name is Finley and I am a Queer, Non-Binary human living and loving in Vancouver. I am an event producer and curator, I love to build and connect communities through music, art and genuine connection.  I love to dance, build things and explore this beautiful city on bike.
 
Who or What inspired you to take up riding a bike?

 
My group of friends are avid cyclists. We often group ride around the city and go on little bike trips together. They’ve definitely inspired me to be on my bike more often and experience the city from a different perspective.
 
In what ways has cycling been a part of your life?


Vancouver is such a bikeable city, commuting around is the quickest and most enjoyable way to get to wherever I need to go. I save a lot of money on transit/car share by doing so and I’ve noticed an improvement in not only my physical but mental health as well. 
 
I love to take my bike on little weekend trips over to the Gulf Islands. Having my bike on trips allows the freedom to explore.

 
Do you have any particular experiences or moments you’ve had as someone who bikes that you’d like to share?

One of my favourites is riding down the road from prospect point in Stanley Park, it literally feels like flying. 
 
Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is interested in or getting started with cycling?

 
Don’t think about it too much and just start! You don’t need all the fancy gear to get going, just a good helmet and some lights. Lot’s of shops around town offer used bikes at low prices and Mobi by Shaw Go is great for short trips getting around. 

Jordan


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a 22 year old female from Vancouver currently working in Graphic Design. I have always had an athletic nature and have competitively participated in sports such as swimming, water polo, and of course cycling! 

Who or What inspired you to take up riding? 

My dad has always instilled from a young age how fun and versatile riding a bike can be. Whether it is mountain biking, road biking, or just getting around town. He always made sure that when the nice weather came I had a working bike to ride, and encouraged me to use it as I wanted.

In what ways has cycling been a part of your life?

For as long as I can remember I have always used cycling as a means of transportation. As I got older I learned that cycling can take me places a car and transit couldn’t, giving me more freedom and flexibility than I’d had before.  

Do you have any particular experiences or moments you’ve had as someone who bikes that you’d like to share?

Finishing the Whistler Gran Fondo all on my own. When I started taking cycling seriously I decided the Fondo would be my goal. I trained on my own and accomplished it on my own. The sport of cycling enabled me to find confidence I didn’t know I had. After I finished the race (and had a beer, burger, and hot shower) I looked into the demographics of the race and was shocked to find out that out of 12,000 participants, only 800 were women, and out of those 800, there were only 200 women in my age group (19-34)! I’m not entirely sure why the amount of women who participate in this race is so low, but I am proud to be one of them.

Apart from racing, cycling is a way to destress and clear my mind after a stressful work day/week/month. It teaches me how far I can push my body physically, and inspires me to be my strongest and healthiest self.



Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is interested in or getting started with cycling?

You do not need anything fancy to get going - Anything will do. Be confident and don’t be afraid to go out on your own. Also talk to people who ride already, the cycling community is super awesome and always willing to share tips and help out. 

Lexi



Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, my name is Lexi! I am 14 years old.  I like playing with my little sister and I have 6 siblings.  I like woodworking and hope I can be a carpenter one day.
 
Who or What inspired you to take up riding a bike?

I started riding bikes a lot in grade 5, but I learned when I was six years old.  I didn’t have a bike at home, but when I went to visit my grandma in the summer I would ride the bikes that she had there to day camp every day.
 
In what ways has cycling been a part of your life?

I like taking my six year old brother out biking in the summer.  Sometimes, we would play tag with our cousins at our complex while riding our bikes.

I would use Mobi bikes every day after school.  My personal record is 7 minutes by bike, but it would take me 20 minutes by bus.

 

Do you have any particular experiences or moments you’ve had as someone who bikes that you’d like to share?

My family and I would spend time together by biking to Strathcona Park.  I also helped my little brother learn how to ride a two wheeler bike.  He felt super proud and excited when he was able to ride on his own.



A huge thank you to these five wonderful individuals for taking the time to share their stories with us - Happy International Women's Day!