Gender and race-inclusive groups and rides are blooming in Portland

Posted by on April 21st, 2021 at 9:12 am

Last week we celebrated the announcement of Pedalpalooza and the return of fun, group rides.

While Pedalpalooza is a beloved tradition by many Portlanders, the people who lead and take part in most of the rides don’t reflect all of Portland. That is, they’re mostly white, cis-gendered folks. The lack of Black, Indigenous and people of color in the local “bike fun” scene is something Portland has grappled with for years.

Now it feels like we’ve reached a tipping point with new groups and rides led by people of color and people who identify as women/transgender/femme/non-binary.

BikePOC PNW didn’t exist until January of this year. The first ride had just seven people on it. Then as word spread, DMs began to flow into the BikePOC PNW Instagram account. “Something amazing is happening,” wrote one of the organizers on March 28th. “We’re building a space for people of color to bring their whole selves.”

BikePOC NW leaders helped organize the Stop Asian Hate Solidarity Ride on April 3rd and the group has hosted several of their signature “Adventure Rides” this year. It has become more than just a riding group and something more of a community hub for people of color who love to ride bikes. There’s an email list that connects folks with each other and helps boost similar efforts.

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Ashley Padron (@smashleypatron on IG) started riding with a few friends “to take up space together” before extending the invite to others. “We sent the invite out through our BikePOC group as well, and have just been encouraging women, femme, trans, and non-binary folx of color to join. It’s been magical!” she shared with us after a recent ride where several dozen people showed up.

Now Ashley and her friends Arely and Katya will host tonight’s Chingona Ride. “This ride is meant for women/femmes/trans folks of color,” reads the ride description. “Although we are still in the beginning process of creating this community, our goal is to carve out a safer space that centers POC feminine energy on bikes. We are not here to police identities and will call out any machismo/ anti-LGBTQ+ behavior witnessed on our rides.”

Another group calls themselves the pdx unity ride collective has hosted about a dozen rides since last summer. Their rides are created by and for women/trans/femme/non-binary Portlanders who want a fun and safe place to meet up and enjoy cycling together. Their next ride is this Friday, April 23rd.

The Radical Adventure Riders (formerly WTF Bikexplorers) are a national group with several Portlanders among their founding members. They began in 2017 with a mission of, “Moving towards enhancing gender inclusivity and racial equity in the bicycle and outdoor adventure scene.”

Friends on Bikes is a Portland-based group that also started in 2017 with a goal of, “Fostering a cycling community for BIPOC who are women, trans, femme, or non-binary in PDX.” Their Bike Match program which accepts bikes from donors and gives them away to BIPOC Portlanders, received 42 donations in 2020.

Here are a few other Portland cycling groups that are committed to an inclusive, supportive environment for everyone:

  • Corvidae Bicycle Club: “This is a safe environment for all, no aggressive, sexist, racist, or any other kind of bullshit will be tolerated.”
  • Black Girls Do Bike (Portland chapter): “We champion efforts to introduce the joy of cycling to all women, but especially, black women and girls. We are establishing a comfortable place where female cyclist can support, advise, organize meet-ups/rides and promote skill-sharing.”
  • We Bike Portland: “The Street Trust’s program to inspire more trans people of all genders, gender non-conforming folx, 2 spirit, and women.”

To learn more, don’t miss two recent episodes of the Sprocket Podcast. Hosts recently welcomed founding members of BikePOCNW and spoke with Polly Bledsoe about what it’s like to bikepack as a transgender person.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Just want to give folks a heads up that we’ve had some great conversations along these lines on the Sprocket Podcast. In a recent episode, Armando and Aaron chatted with Will, Sukho, and Silas about BikePOC and what led them to start the rides, and the week before, Guthrie and I chatted with Polly about bike camping and her experiences as a trans woman in the bike community and while bike touring. The BikePOC conversation was all men of color (including the hosts), and I’ve heard from some white folks that they appreciated being able to listen in on the conversation. Here’s that one: https://sprocketpodcast.blubrry.com/e561-bikepoc/