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Women In Motion: New Lady Riders Reflect on NYC Cycling

There are more cyclists in NYC than ever before, and an increasing number of women using bikes are part of the story. The reasons are many. For one, NYC has added over 200 miles of bike lanes in the last three years making streets safer. Mothers are biking their kids to school and bringing home groceries on the backs of their bikes. More women are commuting to work and enjoying nightlife by bike. All the while, these women are getting more exercise and increasing their energy, saving money, protecting the environment, and getting things done more efficiently than before.  Yet there still remains a disparity in the numbers of women versus men cyclists.

So what's it gonna take to increase NYC's percentage of women riding bikes?

Streetfilms went out to talk to a few new-to-the-streets women cyclists and find out what got them cycling, what their biking experience is like and find out the role cycling has taken on in their lives.  We hope you'll find their comments enlightening and thought-provoking.

<br> <br> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[intro music]</font> <br> </p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Ro Johnson:</i> [00:05] I would say I probably haven’t ridden a bike since I was a child. I haven’t seen the necessity for one, you know, there’s the subway, I had my car. I knew it was a possibility, but never even contemplated it as a realistic option.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Rachel Holtzman:</i> [00:22] I took no issue with it taking me like half an hour, but within my neighbourhood and when you bike you realise that like it’s kind of crazy. My name is Rachel Holtzman, I am an editor and I’ve been biking for about two months, so I’m a new biker. It’s a means to getting around more efficiently, to… to plugging into community, and that was kind of my “aha” moment that biking was like this really cool thing that was a lot more than a sport. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[music]</font> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Karyn Williams:</i> [00:56] I am Karyn Williams and I work as a landscape architect. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Samelys Lopez:</i> [00:59] My name is Samelys Lopez and currently I’m a project manager. I really started riding my bike religiously nine months ago.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Xue Yun Go:</i> [01:07] My name is Xue Yun Go, I’m 18 and I’ve been bicycling since July this year doing the programme Bike Sploration. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [01:18] Our mission is to introduce youth from underserved communities to issues in urban planning and we’re using bikes as a way to explore the city. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Samelys Lopez:</i> [01:28] That sense of ownership which is linked to advocacy because we feel it’s a sense of entitlement and you feel comfortable with diverse groups, exploring different things. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Xue Yun Go:</i> [01:36] It is like so much different, like as a biker, as a cyclist, it’s just totally different experience when you’re there.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Ro Johnson:</i> [01:42] My name is Rose Johnson. I have been biking for about four months now.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Rachel Holtzman:</i> [01:50] By seeing more women bikers I think it says to other women, this is something you can do. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Ro Johnson:</i> [01:55] I started getting interested in biking when I noticed all the bike lanes and all the bikers, and I said, hey, I don’t necessarily need my gym subscription, I could ride my bike everywhere. You know when I told many of my friends that I was going to do this, they were like I wouldn’t even want to ride my bicycle in the street. And it just... it led me to like kind of face my fear and, you know, and conquer it. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Rachel Holtzman:</i> [02:21] When I wake up in the morning, I can wear what I want to wear, I’m going to go do what I want to do, and now I have the means to do it.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[music]</font> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Mythili Rao:</i> [02:33] My name is Mythili Rao and I’ve been biking since May, so just a few months now. I notice when I bike to work, it’s about the same amount of time that I would spend sitting on the train anyway. And I’ve gotten half an hour of exercise that I wouldn’t have got at all otherwise.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Ro Johnson:</i> [02:48] It’s a new thought pattern to think that… to think of bicycling as transportation.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Karyn Williams:</i> [02:54] One thing I think is unique about New York is that in New York it can be beyond recreation. It’s another alternative to taking the subway or the bus.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Ro Johnson:</i> [03:02] If you make use of cycling, you can, you know, supplement your transportation needs. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Rachel Holtzman:</i> [03:09] I was so happy taking subway. I walked everywhere. It was just something I like set aside time to do. You get used to it, you get comfortable and it’s like it’s the same thing with trying to get people out of their cars. It’s like this is the way people have lived their lives. It’s going to take a lot to make them see the light, a better way. </font> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[music]</font> <br></p> <a href="http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/">Transcript Divas Transcription Canada </a>
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  • Edward Re

    v. cool! Good to see.

  • Bike Love

    Nice to see so many interesting gals who bike!

  • Dahlia Lopez Ramsay

    Glad you think so!! They ARE lovely women. And there are a lot more out there, maybe you are one of them yourself.... Please pass on to the many future lady riders you know. 



  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    Very well edited last shot... it sticks with you.

    The answer to the above question is: Fun, low- or no-cost cycling classes, wider pavements so pedestrians stay out of the street, slower speeds, less cars, carshare, state-of-the-art ground level bike parking in front of apt. buildings so you can enjoy great, stable city bikes for years and years, contraflow (farmed salmoning) on superslowed one-way crosstown or side streets, streetcars, a great bike share system seamlessly integrated with MTA, no helmet promotion from DOT or Transalt, the truth about Copenhagen... and please send me a large eponymously-named drink from Gray's Papaya 'cause i really miss NYC.

  • Dahlia Lopez Ramsay

    Will that be all? Ha. I agree with most of your suggestions. Come back to the city and see what its been up to! 

  • Amelia

    Go ladies go! Add a cargo bike and you can haul kids around with the ease of the Dutchies
    (see thegoat.backcountry.com/2006/11/21/bakfiets for a mom/kid transport vehicle)

  • Mark Davis

    Yet another reason to raise more strong women and not disney princesses.

    We need more shots of Janet sadi-kahn riding a bike! She's my hero.

    Also male cyclists, bike store employees, mechanics, and so on need to stop with the patronizing attitude that is still prevalent. I've caught myself doing it.

  • Jonny Sanders

    Good Job Ramsay! 😀

  • http://www.galfromdownunder.com Galfromdownunder

    Great stuff, though would like to have seen SENIOR women cyclists included - enough youth-centricity already in a society where "we worship a youth we all lose". Since someone's gotta champion them (= us in a few years) here's to oldies on foldies, fixies & Felts

  • Dahlia Lopez Ramsay

    Yes, I thought about making it general and inclusive of senior cyclists. But in the end, the video would get too long. While the senior cyclists are definitely worthy of attention, my goal was not to talk about where cycling's been but where its at right now in this time of transition and improvements - and show the newbies as indicators of political and social achievement on the part of New York and New Yorkers. A film about those who were biking LONG before it was ever cool, convenient or safe has been on my personal radar for a while so I hear ya. 

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    As a man who actually felt relatively safe cycling in NYC in the late 90's (has something to do with getting used to terrible drivers in SF where I lived for much longer), I am very happy that a lot more cyclists including lots of women are able to feel safe enough to ride these days.

    But I am very concerned about the new separated bike path/lane development and its component which makes cycling in other parts of the street illegal.

    People! You are losing space for cycling! Cyclists should be able to ride in the "car part" if they want. That is the way it is here in Berlin. (No silly two-point "Copenhagen turns" if you are willing). I should add that on my link above to Copenhagen you can find further examples in the Netherlands such as all-green signals at intersections for cyclists, etc. To be clear: Cycling in Copenhagen is still great.

    One example: Flying down Broadway on a warm Sunday afternoon is a fantastic thing as there is little traffic. If Broadway becomes mostly pedestrian and more of a linear square that's cool, but the other wide avenues still need to allow riding everywhere in a mix, AND exclusively in lanes on the same streets.

  • Mark Davis

    Just ride on a street without a bike lane

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    Mark: When you are in a large bed by yourself... sorry, I don't think you understand: While my ideal is definitely carfree streets, I am happy for people to have separated paths, just as long as the rest of the street (sure, minus BRT and emergency vehicle lanes) is available, too. Are you threatened by this?

  • Ethan Seltzer

    Dahlia... nice work! Great to see you doing projects like this. Keep it up. Best!

  • Mark Davis

    no. I have similar feelings. particularly sunday afternoons because that's when all the slow recreational cyclists are out. when I want to consistently go over 20mph I want to be in the street.

    the NYC bike lane law superseeds the NYS bike lane law. the NYC says that you must be in the bike lane if it is available (which I agree is BS) but there is a exception for any street 40 feet or wider. this is basically all avenues :) it might be just Manhattan. so you're free in avenues and most cross town streets don't have bike lanes.

    I want to be able to ride in the street because I ride a cargo trike and if I use the bike lane I get in cyclists way and I rather use the street. I haven't had a cop ever give me a hard time, but it's still somethign I am concerned about.

    I guess my point is that this doesn't really hold anyone back from ridding in the street. it's a real concern, but it' not on the top 50 of things we should be worried about when it comes to bike infrastructure.

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    Mark: Thanks, I didn't know about that exception, and I hope, for example, that JSK does a commercial, singing with a bunch of cabbies to make sure all the cyclists know about it.

  • Mark Davis

    no one knows about it. I was stopped in a police trap when I was a pedicab driver along with dozens of others. The traffic cop and the traffic court judge weren't familiar with it.

    cops and taxi drivers aren't really concerned with laws. I think you just have to be considerate and polite. if you get stopped say that you are concerned with the laws and that's why you have read them and know that there is an exception for wide one way streets.

  • Felix

    I've noticed the trend with the baseball mothers in Prospect Park.

  • Yolanda Ramsay

    Inspiring video -- definitely makes me want to get out there and join you ladies of every age. The idea of getting multiple benefits not only for yourself, but for the environment and building a practical and enjoyable community on the move -- together and individually is a win-win. I'm buying. Very well done, Dahlia! Your mission was well served and executed. Congratulations!!

  • Herzog

    An awesome Streetfilm right here!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=652813921 Ellen Azorin

    I've been riding my bike to work since the 1980's when I succeeded in getting Ogilvy Advertising to support an effort to install bike racks in the Worldwide Plaza garage. These days I ride everywhere and could share a few things about best routes to get around the city!  Please visit my new page on facebook -- do a search for "Cyclists United For A Bike-Friendly New York"

  • http://www.bwawp.org Arielle Bailey

    Awesome work, Dahlia! I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 22, for the same reasons that the first woman mentioned: It didn't occur to me that it was transportation, not simply recreation.

    I love that through better infrastructure, more of us are seeing the light.

    BTW, you rock.;)

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/inwoodist urbanis

    Dahlia, are you saying there are no senior women who recently started biking because they felt empowered to do so? I don't understand your logic that all new women cyclists are young.

  • Becca

    Love it! Nice work Dahlia.

  • carlos eduardo nascimento

    muito bacana a repostagem sobre bike em NY. vou divulgar e vender a ideia em minha cidade

  • Natalie U.

    The comment about saving money is so true when you live in an expensive city. Every bit counts. Thanks Dahlia for the footage of earth friendly movement. As a bicyclist and avid walker I feel like I am constantly thinking about the affect of car exhaust on my health... maybe a lead for your next streetfilm.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/dramsay Dahlia Ramsay

    Carlos! Sou muito grato a você!

  • Achsah

    I am empowered to ride my bike more. Loved hear the input of career women: Great work D!

  • Hikedance

    My daughter lives in NYC, Queens, and pedals her ass all over town.

  • http://fitapproach.com Alyse

    This is great! I'm a woman and a new cyclist in San Francisco, and I'm still figuring out what clothes that go easily from bike to professional, but I love the freedom and endorphins that city cycling has brought me! 

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