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February 2012
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Women on Bikes initiative launched


Melissa Balmer - BIKEable Communities director for Women on Bikes

Getting women and girls on bikes will make a difference in your community….and there are lots of people in the Southern California…working to make it happen.

Yesterday Bikeable Communities launched the Long Beach based Women on Bikes Initiative.

The purpose of the initiative is to encourage and enable more women and girls to include bicycling in their routine activities in order to provide them with a more active and healthy live style.

We know that Long Beach, like most other communities throughout the US, has a health issue; over 20% of our students between grades 5 and 9 are obese. The numbers for grade 5 are a staggering 31%. And we know that active living can make a big difference with this issue. 

But we also know, based on the 2011 bike count data, only 20% of our bicyclists in the city are women and girls.  And nation wide these numbers are even lower…closer to 15%.

In Vice Mayor Lowenthal’s comments she spoke about the importance of getting women involved in the bicycle program. “We know that if we get more women on bikes…they will get the other members of their family to ride as well. If the women feel comfortable riding…they will get others to ride as well.”   As Charlie Gandy says…the women are our indicator species. If we can get them riding…we know that we are being successful and that others will follow.

So how can we get more women and girls on bikes???

The women on bikes program will initially train 12 women as Bicycle League of America instructors. These women will then go out into the community reaching out to places such as our non-profits, our hospitals and our large employers who have a large population of women employees. They will then work with small groups showing them how to do things that are often times intimidating..and that keep them from riding. These range from the very simple things of putting air in a bike tire, to fixing a tire to riding on our local streets. They will also teach them how to get a bike on and off our city bus bike racks.

The program is targeting to double the number of women on bikes by 2020. Given all of the bike friendly infrastructure Long Beach has installed coupled with their safe routes to schools educational program and now this …. the group feels that this is an achievable target.

Participating or donating to the program

If you would like to potentially be a participant in the program or if you would like to donate to the program, see the women on bikes socal website.

For more information on the overall women on bikes program see www.womenonbikessocal.org

This initiative is under the direction of Melissa Balmer who is working in conjunction with Long Beach Vice Mayor Lowenthal, Andrea White-Kjoss, Bikestation President and COO, Elizabeth Williams founder of Calibiketours, April Economides from Green Octopus Consulting  and Jen Klausner from the LA County Bike Coalition along with many others from the community.

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