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Guest Post: Organizing Girls Only Rides

Note from Joe: I requested that Hyedie re-post this excellent post here on BikingToronto.

I frankly can not believe that Hyedie is getting flack for organizing a very successful series of bike rides. Yes, they’re only for females, but so what? Almost *everything* in the cycling world is male dominated, and Hyedie is trying to encourage more women to ride their bikes for fun and for utility. Is there anything wrong with that? Hell no. In fact, it should be commended.

If you have a problem with the “girls only” nature of the ride, or just want cupcakes for yourself, then go out and organize rides of your own. What’s stopping you? Only yourself.

Keep on organizing Hyedie. You’ll always have a promo partner in BikingToronto.

Hyedie’s post starts below:

———————————————

Why I Organize Girls Only Rides

Thanks to the Cupcake Rides I’ve met so many awesome women who’s main mode of transportation is a bicycle.

Before I organized these rides and met all these amazing lady bikers, however, I only knew a handful of women who biked in the city. And within my close circle of friends in Toronto, I’m still the only girl who bikes regularly in the city.

When I show up to meet my friends somewhere with my helmet dangling from my arm I am met with comments like, ‘I can’t believe you bike in the city. I’m too scared.’ or ‘No way, drivers in Toronto are too crazy. I don’t know how you do it.’

Sadly, these sentiments aren’t exclusive to my group of friends and they probably represent the main the reason why so many women don’t bike in Toronto and North America.

Statistics show that in Toronto roughly only a third (and only about a quarter in North America) of cyclists are women.

Taken from the City of Toronto 2010 Bicycle Count

This cyclist gender disparity is the reason why I started the Toronto Girls’ Cupcake Ride.

I should really create a FAQ page, but in the meantime hopefully these points shed some understanding on why my rides are for women only.

Why are the Cupcake Rides segregated?

  • To encourage more female cyclists to bike in the city.
  • aka to take some Affirmative Action.
  • To create a special ride just for women, much like there are sporting events just for certain groups of people (a person from Europe can’t compete in the PanAm games, and American athlete can’t compete in the Commonwealth Games).
  • To create a ride that is non-competitive and welcoming.
  • To create a ride that allows first time or newbie cyclists to feel comfortable riding on city streets while being sandwiched by more experienced riders.
  • To build female camaraderie within a bike culture that can sometimes have a chauvinistic side

So those are great reasons, but why do we need to encourage more female cyclists to ride anyway?

  • Our roads are clogged with pollution emitting vehicles and our public transit is bursting at the seams, by getting more people to bike we can alleviate the pressures on traffic and public transit ridership plus help to reduce pollution.
  • Strength in numbers! More cyclists on the roads can help create safer bike trips because drivers become more careful.
  • Strength in numbers! More cyclists can strengthen our voice at City Hall.
  • Modest increases in bike ridership could yield major economic, health benefits
  • If you love riding your bike, why wouldn’t you want other people to enjoy this wonderful activity?

I’m sure over time while I mull this over I’ll have more to add.

These are my reasons for creating a women’s only ride, which I wanted to share to counter some of the, at times nasty, comments that I receive from *ahem* guys who feel left out.

And to be frank, I volunteer my free time to organize these rides. As such, I should be able to organize them in anyway I want.

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About Hyedie Hashimoto

Hyedie is the founder of the Toronto Girls' Cupcake Ride. When she's not riding her bike around Toronto, she can be found hanging out with her two Beagles.

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