Jools Walker. Source: Sarah Cresswell www.sarahcresswell.com
Part of our series on inclusiveness.
At PeopleForBikes, we believe we can all do more to grow the cycling community. We’ve been doing the work for nearly 20 years and we want to keep the momentum going. We’re committed to improving inclusiveness in our messaging, broadening the audiences we reach, and increasing our staff diversity. Join us as we learn from various voices in the cycling community. Together, we can turn what we learn into action. Take a listen to these podcasts that are doing great storytelling around inclusiveness.
Hosted by Alex Davis and Jenni Gwiazdowski from London’s Look Mum No Hands cycling cafe and the London Bike Kitchen DIY Bike Workshop, this podcast pulls back the curtain on the cycling industry to showcase less mainstream figures and ways to enjoy a bike. In a recent episode, they talk with prolific writer/blogger Jools Walker aka Velo City Girl, who recently launched her book, Back in the Frame.
Walker talks about finding small pockets in the cycling community — knowing there’s a place for everyone. She says, “Cycling should feel like a welcome space for all people.” After coming back to biking after ten years of feeling like it wasn’t for her, she says, “It’s always an education being on a bike — there’s so much to try — you think you’ve done it all and then something else comes along and teaches something new.”
Davis and Gwiazdowski also talk with Walker about race, and make it clear that they’re dedicated to talking with all of their guests about growing the bike community. Davis says, “We wanted to ask about race because we had our interview with Ayesha [McGowan] and we talked about the advocacy work that she’s doing and then realized, why are we only asking these questions to women of color? So we’re going to ask all of our guests: what are you doing to get women of color onto bikes, because it’s everyone’s responsibility. We should be asking everyone because everyone is involved.”
At just 26-years-old, professional bike racer Payson McElveen has already accomplished a lot in the way of physical feats, but he also produces conversations and stories with people he admires — many of them women. McElveen hosts The Adventure Stache, where he sits down with wildly impressive people, mainly to prove how human they all are.
In his 11th episode, McElveen talks with Lael Wilcox from Dirty Kanza. He describes her as “the best ultra-endurance cyclist in the world.” Besides doing things like winning the 4,300 mile Trans Am Bike Race outright (after passing the lead male rider in the final miles) and setting the record for the 2,750 mile Tour Divide (after riding thousands of miles to the race start from her home in Alaska), Wilcox also works to get more girls and women on bikes. In the podcast, she says, “The participation rate for women is just so low in general.” Wilcox says she likes to win huge events because, “it’s the exact opposite of a man telling me that I can’t do something. It’ll be cool if eventually we’re not talking about it because it’s a known fact [that a woman can beat a man]. But we’re not even close to that yet, so the more results we see like this the more people believe it’s possible, maybe more women will start attempting this stuff.”
Beyond getting more women into ultra-endurance events, Wilcox wants to get more women riding in general. She facilitates a scholarship to fund bike adventures, and in its first year she received applications from girls and women all around the world ranging in age from 14 to 76.
McElveen makes it easy to be inspired by the people he talks to; not just because they’ve found success, but because they’ve gone through struggles, and in many ways are just like everyone else. Listen to these stories — discover a new hero.
Sara Studdard, Deputy Director of Local Innovation at PeopleForBikes, talks with Dr. Mimi Sheller, Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy and Professor of Sociology at Drexel University. Sheller’s most recent book, Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes discusses centering advocacy on the intersections of power, inequality, transportation, climate action, and justice.
In their conversation on equity and transportation, Sheller defines mobility justice as power over movement basic to all forms of politics. She says that history is riddled with different versions of controlling the mobility of others — and even controlling their ability to stay.
Sheller talks about the increasing realization that going into a community with infrastructure first instead of listening to the community, doesn’t work. She says there are so many assumptions made around what places need in order to be fixed, instead of talking to people about what they want and what would help them. Sheller suggests that those involved with place-making need to think about what purpose they’re really serving.
When thinking about mobility in terms of bikes, part of the solution is to bring people together around bikes. To think about what issues are being faced, and how biking can be part of that. Allowing communities to reclaim public space is a way to create safer neighborhoods.
Ultimately, Sheller says that the whole world has been designed in a way that doesn’t fit everyone. From the size of cell phones to the way helmets fit. The course to move forward is to constantly think about how to include instead of how to fix.
City Lab’s Technopolis: Golden City — Can Wakanda’s Capital City Teach Us to Build Better Cities in the Real World?
Hosted by urban innovation professor Molly Turner and startup advisor Jim Kapsis, Technopolis explores what needs to change for tech to help solve more problems than it creates. In “Golden City” they talk with Black Panther’s production designer Hannah Beachler. Beachler talks about the role tech played in her meticulously crafted urban vision. Beachler also talks about what she thinks some real-life tech-led urban designs are getting wrong. “It has to be about people: people have to come first,” Beachler says. She encourages creating spaces where people have to interact. “When you let people freely move they’re going to be more apt to reach out to each other.”
When thinking about designing a stressless city, Beachler says a lot of cities need to look into where their transportation goes. “There are a lot of low-income areas where access to public transportation doesn’t exist. We need to start connecting neighborhoods.”