Eventbrite - Third Annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstrations Women Bike Chicago: January 2014

Women and "City Cycling"

How was resistance to women cycling expressed historically? What were the early politics of cycling as it related to emancipation?

How do women serve as an "indicator species" for overall biking conditions?

And while in many contexts there are fewer women than men cycling, this is not the case everywhere. What is happening in countries like the Netherlands where this trend is reversed and women outnumber men for trips on bikes?

For insight into these questions and more, check out: http://www.ecf.com/news/cyclingandwomen/. The article focuses on "City Cycling," which includes a chapter written specifically on women and cycling by Jan Garrard, Susan Handy, and Jennifer Dill.

Dykes Pedaling Bikes

Come join Dykes Pedaling Bikes for the 5th Annual Off-Season Social!
Here's the scoop:

When: Sunday, Feb 16, 2014, 2:00 PM until 5:00 PM
Where: Hamburger Mary's - Mary's Attic
5400 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL
Contact: Carrie Hirsch
Email culturperc@mac.com
This is a social event--no pedaling this time--and everyone is invited to come and hang out.  

For more information, and to RSVP (recommended but not required), visit
the Windy City Cycling Club site and calendar

Want to learn more about Dykes Pedaling Bikes? Check out John Greenfield's article on the group (and the broader LGBT bike group, the Windy City Cycling Club) here:

Windy City Cycling Club
Photo by John Greenfield, Grist.org

As Greenfield mentions, Dykes Pedaling Bikes welcomes all women, not just lesbians.


After coming together for the March 2013 Day of Dialogue and Demonstration, Women Bike Chicago sponsored a variety of smaller events to keep us connected and provide opportunities for women to test out, learn about, or get back on two wheels.

There was the Going South Bike Tour which culminated at the Pullman House for tours. Talks were held at Women and Children First on Bike Commuting and Bikes on Transit by Anne Alt, and on Crash Recovery by Susan Levin and Leah Jones.

When the snow began to thaw, the Cherry Blossom Ride led the group to Osaka Garden in Hyde Park. Summer kicked off with a Ride to Chinatown, followed by a Tour de Divvy which was an opportunity to learn about Chicago’s new bike share by testing it out with a Divvy ambassador (and free passes!). Finally, a group headed to Millennium Park, picnicking to the sounds of Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, the first all-female mariachi group in the U.S.

The Day of Dialogue and Demonstration will be back this spring; look out for details in the coming weeks. What other events would you like to see happen? Would you like to lead a workshop, ride, talk, or other event? 

Reflections on Winter Biking: My Maiden Voyage

I love my red Nishiki road bike. She was a gift from my Dad to my Mom three decades ago, and somewhere along the way she became mine. Together we’ve watched the sun rise at Montrose Harbor and the seasons change riding alongside Urbana cornfields. This fall she would faithfully wait for me to finish work each night, guiding me around pot holes and under bridges, home through humid August air and soggy October evenings.  
And then it got cold. It snowed.   I put my bike in the basement and resigned myself to taking the bus. I missed the consistency with which biking makes me feel better when I hop off then I did when I got on; I missed the feeling of being fully present, alone with my thoughts but also aware of my surroundings;  I missed sleeping better, eating better, moving better that  came with commuting on my bike.

Thankfully, collaborating with Women Bike Chicago and Active Trans means that I’m surrounded by folks who are doing what I had decided just wasn’t going to work. With this mental block out of the way, I needed to get a handle on how I was going to make this work.
First up: I did some research to prepare myself for my first foray into winter riding. Women Bike Chicago’s own Anne Alt has a helpful summary here:
Because, as Anne says, “Fenders are your friend,” my next stop was the bike shop to get front and back fenders put on (somehow, I didn’t find getting up-splash from the rain quite annoying enough to do this when I should have, long ago). With the exception of some socks to beat my fear of getting cold feet, I resisted the temptation to buy out the clothing section, in favor of sticking to my budget and trying to make what I already have work first.

I stuck mostly to larger streets to avoid some of the lingering ice & slush on smaller ones
In terms of keeping myself warm, my face and neck were my biggest lingering concerns. How do I keep my neck warm without investing in a balaclava from the bike shop (for now, anyway)? Here’s a cool photo shoot from Bike Winter, with some inspiration: http://bikewinter.org/photo_shoot_2011_Done.

This time I got away with pretty light clothing. Chicago has recovered from its cold spell and is back in the 30s. It was a good day to ease into winter riding- for now, I’m going to commit to riding when the weather is above 20 and there isn’t enough residual snow on the major roads to be an issue for me. The long term goal is to have temperature be a non-issue, and to better understand and equip my bike to get through winter elements.

My first winter ride was different than I had expected. Some drivers made an extra effort to give me a wide berth or let me merge. Others drove per usual. And one or two was particularly frustrated and frustrating. It helped that I allowed plenty of extra time so that my focus could remain on the ride itself. I wasn’t cold. I was a bit uneasy. I wasn’t sure how my Nishiki would react to the snow and slush. Overall, it did fine. Tomorrow, I’ll be better able to gage my beloved bike’s reactions to our new riding conditions, and the day after more still. Already, my body and my mind are thanking me.

Remembering Carmelita

Many of us were shocked and saddened to get the recent news that Carmelita Sams has died of cancer. She was a big part of the outdoor/demo portion of our Women Bike Chicago event last March, demonstrating basic bike repair skills and checking out bikes brought to the event.  Her positive energy and words of encouragement were priceless and magical. 

Carmelita checking a bike - photo by Jane Healy

Carmelita checking a bike - photo by Jane Healy

Susan Levin recalls "I did not know Carmelita well, and was not even sure whether she knew my name, but she always recognized me and gave me a huge smile and warm hug of welcome when we saw each other.  She was amazing.  I will always remember her as the confused-then-confident bike rider character in the Bike to Work Week video produced in 2013."

Carmelita has been a role model to many girls and women as a longtime staffer at West Town Bikes.  Her involvement in the girls' bike club and women & trans open shop nights set a positive example to inspire girls and women to ride and maintain their own bikes.

We will miss her smile, her encouraging words and her skill with bikes.  We hope that other women and girls will be motivated to follow in her footsteps.

    - Anne Alt

Welcome new WBC intern

Liz Corrado is excited to partner with Women Bike Chicago as the organization’s first intern.

Liz’s academic background in urban planning and active transportation has fused with an independent streak, a dislike of scheduled exercise, and a love of the outdoors to make cycling advocacy for women a perfect match.  She’s looking forward to getting to know more inspiring female bikers this spring, and hopes that you’ll reach out to her with your questions and ideas.  Her e-mail is liz.corrado@activetrans.org.