A new online community for the women’s bicycling movement, launched by a local bike writer and built on a web startup by two Reed College alumni, seems to be off to a roaring start.
Created by Elly Blue, who is herself a sort of bicycle hub who has taken human form and lives in Portland, Wheelwomen Switchboard sorts its users’ posts into two categories: “asks” and “offers.” The Wheelwomen community has drawn more than 70 such posts in its first two weeks.
Posts include a query about the best bike route between North Portland and East Vancouver, discussion about the gender politics of an article about bike infrastructure in Cleveland, a request for advice about organizing the first World Naked Bike Ride in Buffalo, a bike-related internship in Seattle, and a scholarship opportunity for women who want to be bike mechanics.
“We weren’t sure it would take off, but it was huge,” writes Blue, a 2002 Reed graduate whose most recent book is Bikeonomics. “What it tells me is that the women’s biking movement is something a lot of people are eager to identify themselves as being part of, that these same people are hungry to connect with each other, and that a lot of the stuff they want to talk about is practical tips for everything from gear to routes to organizing movements and creating equitable spaces.”
Blue said she convinced her former classmates to let her test-drive the not-yet-public Switchboard system “after pestering them for a year or more.” So far, looks like good decisions all around.
Joining the community is free — though you do have to identify as female.
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.