Earlier this year, I had the privilege of presenting at the Youth Bike Summit with a tremendous group of bicycle leaders from West Town Bikes in Chicago.
Rocking their identical, hot-pink sweatshirts, the young women explained how and why they created a group just for girls. Meeting on a weekly basis, they discussed why they loved riding and how they might get more young women interested and engaged in biking. They called themselves the Girls Bike Club and, in just a matter of months, they became a visible presence in the community.
They went on rides together. They planned a fashion show. They talked up the club to their high school peers and proudly wore their Girls Bike Club shirts to get the word out. They even wrapped Christmas presents for donations at a local REI shop to earn the cash to get to NYC to present their important work at the Youth Bike Summit.
I was inspired. Everyone was inspired. And the Girls Bike Club is just one example of young women taking a leadership role in the bicycle movement.
Learn about other youth initiatives and hear from young leaders at the National Women’s Bicycling Summit on September 13 in Long Beach. Read more about the “Young Women Who Ride” workshop below and register for the event today (less than 30 tickets left!).
Young Women Who Ride
Part presentation, part interactive workshop, Young Women Who Ride will explore existing models of youth engagement and share the tools to engage youth, girls, and young women effectively. Led by a dynamic team of adult and youth presenters from Recycle-A-Bicycle, Multnomah County Youth Commission, and Washington Area Bicyclist Association, this session will explore a range of creative, innovative approaches to bike education and advocacy while considering community-specific resources, challenges and best practices. Young Women Who Ride will highlight how bike advocacy is enriched when its young leaders are encouraged and supported to envision safer, healthier, and more livable communities and are taught the tools to help build them.
- Pasqualina Azzarello is the executive director of Recycle-A-Bicycle, a community-based bike shop and non-profit organization in NYC. Through her work as an educator, community advocate, and public muralist, Pasqualina has engaged local communities in meaningful ways for the past fifteen years. Pasqualina has worked as a freelance artist and educator at Recycle-A-Bicycle since 2001 and became the director in 2009. She has continued to cultivate partnerships and create new opportunities for communities to work together in creative and innovative ways. In the past year, Pasqualina has led workshops and presentations about youth and community engagement at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership conference, the American Planning Association’s national conference, and the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit. As director of Recycle-A-Bicycle and co-founder of the Youth Bike Summit, Pasqualina is committed to engaging youth voices and visions in the national bicycle advocacy movement.
- As Events Coordinator for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Nelle Pierson creates a range of events to unite and celebrate residents who bike for transportation throughout the D.C. region. In addition to speaking on the National Women Cycling Forum, Nelle has helped develop WABA’s WomenBike Program — a product of the Local Women’s Forum and Women on Bikes Campaign — and recently banded together with the Capital Spokeswomen, a lively group of gals who get together and get more gals on bikes. Nelle believes in the boundless benefits of the bicycle, and, in order to get more people on bikes and normalize bicycling in the United States, women need to work on making bicycling more normal.
- Lisa Rodriguez is a bike mechanic, instructor, and ride leader at Recycle-A-Bicycle in NYC. Introduced to Recycle-A-Bicycle as a junior in high school, Lisa has since repaired thousands of bicycles and has led bike rides for hundreds of kids. Lisa’s bike advocacy efforts have led her to lobbying electeds on the steps of Capitol Hill, leading workshops at the Youth Bike Summit, and to numerous community meetings as part of Local Spokes, the bike coalition of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. She is 21 years old and is a student at John Jay College in New York, NY.
- Katherine Westmoreland is a 2011 David Douglas High School graduate and 4-year member of the Multnomah Youth Commission. The volunteer-based Youth Commission serves as the official youth advisory board for the City of Portland and Multnomah County. During her time on the commission, Katherine was heavily involved in the organization of the YouthPass program, which now provides free public transportation to over 13,000 high school students in the Portland area. Katherine served as co-chair of the YouthPass Committee from its creation in 2008 until 2010. She is currently a sophomore at Brigham Young University, studying Political Science with an emphasis on local government and youth engagement.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.