File photo: 3/10/07
Three years ago, Janis McDonald had a dream; to get more women on bikes. That passion led to the creation of PDOT’s Women on Bikes program, which McDonald has spearheaded at her day job in the Transportation Options division of the Office of Transportation.
That program has been a great success, but McDonald knows there is even more work to be done. That’s why she, along with Barb Grover of the Bike Gallery and Alison Hill of the Community Cycling Center, recently organized a meeting to discuss how they can break down to barriers to cycling for women.
McDonald says 35 women showed up to a meeting on April 7th at the Kennedy School in northeast Portland. The women discussed the challenges and opportunities for getting more women on bikes.
File photo: 11/14/06
From a press release on the event:
“A diverse group of women that included business owners, racers, educators, advocates, mechanics, moms, transportation planners and women who use bikes for transportation.
While there are many women who are confident and competent cyclists, a higher percentage do not ride due to safety or comfort concerns. To get more women on the roads and trails requires involvement at many levels of cycling, including expanding places to ride, improving clothes to wear, increasing places to store bikes and training people how to talk to women about bicycling.”
Susan Otcenas, owner of Hillsboro-based TeamEstrogen.com, told the women she started her business in response to the “shrink it and pink it” trend in women’s cycling apparel and noted she still sees a lack of women designers and sales reps in the bike industry.
File photo: 10/10/06
Sweetpea Bicycles owner Natalie Ramsland also attended the event. As one of only two women frame builders in the country, she often feels isolated and wonders why there aren’t more women picking up the torch.
According to McDonald, women are “a barometer of a bike-friendly city” and she hopes the group — which doesn’t have name, but she prefers “Spokeswomen” — will eventually have a voice in policy.
McDonald was very encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy at this first meeting and there are already plans to meet again in May.
The women don’t have an official name or a website yet. They stay in touch via the Women on Bikes section of the Portland Bike Forums.
Post a message there if you’d like to get involved.