women and bikes: thoughts?

This topic contains 58 replies, has 32 voices, and was last updated by  StuInMcCandless 3 yrs, 4 mos.

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Feb 4 2013 at 9:08pm #

“So, gurlbike, whoever you are, *please* enlist our support, because it’s out there. Not all of us with a Y chromosome are beer-consuming “bro”s. And if we’re somehow stepping on toes, please tell us that, too, so we know what to change.”

For the record, I like wine! I also like cupcakes. I have no problem riding to the nearest cupcake shop and opening up a nice bottle of Malbec if that’s more down anyone’s ally. ;)

I do resent being called a “bro.” I’ve suffered enough insults in my life from that category of man… fortunately, I haven’t let it get in the way of a good beer (although I am picky about where I drink it, and I’m quite thankful for places like OTB in pgh where I can have a brew with my -more cultured- fellow man).

But yes… what Stu said… right on (bro)!


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Feb 4 2013 at 9:15pm #

Fun thread.


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Feb 4 2013 at 9:21pm #

Go with the flow(?).


Riding the Cotton Pony….while riding the steel horse?


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Feb 4 2013 at 9:25pm #

Hyla- I get that title 9 catalog, too, and I like a lot of the clothes in it but have yet to order anything. I also like the fact that the models look athletic. I am guilty of misreading the title of it as “titie 9”


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Feb 4 2013 at 9:55pm #

I’ve added my thoughts to the other posts so I will re-post some summary comments for this conversation:

“…while there is a gender divide in many thing regarding bikes, that whole “bikebeerbro” criticism is at-least inaccurate here in Pittsburgh since I think that the bike scene has many men AND women representatives in varied aspects: commuters, competing, old, young, from the hardcore riders to the sunday joy-bike ride. So, to see this coming from a woman from Pittsburgh is alarming.

Personally, (the gurlBIKE blog) is thought-provoking as well: I want to know who this “other” women are. Perhaps they don’t know the scene and thus make assumptions -wrongly- of what women do and are doing in here. If they want to drink tea and do yoga that’s fine with me, –I would LOVE more women riding and feeling empowered, BUT don;t generalize or belittle the other women who are out there riding already!

After thinking all day about the GurlBike blog and how it got me all upset, is the fact that while it was all well-meaning and did-have some good usability points, the tone and criticisms in it did not seem to empower women/girls, but rather criticized them and stereotyped them. At the same time, I think it overlooked other women’s preferences and choices, negating their cycling experience….”

ALSO…. while I welcome new ideas and someone trying to enrich the bike scene in the city by trying to get more women to ride bikes, I feel unease and uncomfortable for someone to come and declare their personal opinion as the “definitive word” on the Pittsburgh cycling scene -or the women cycling scene when they have barely been in Pittsburgh for a year. Also, I don’t like for someone to claim that they are going to represent me and help “me” as a woman by “providing” all the things they think women want WITHOUT asking me or anyone I know about it.

I applaud the enthusiam and the interest of the blogger and Chatham university, but if they really want to make an impact in the city and have a succesful event, their lack of research and interaction with their target action –us women– is apalling. They are planning the “Pittsburgh Women’s Bike Festival” for April….. they are planning to do all these things for it, but have they really reached out to the community? So many resources for them to tap, but from their blog posts and generalizations, I don’t think they have.


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Feb 4 2013 at 10:20pm #

@pierce I’m going to take a leap and say there’s some classicist assumptions here. Not everywhere in Pittsburgh is Squirrel Hill or Walnut St. Just because a place isn’t blinding with lights or has some rundown garages or garbage cans about does not mean it’s a den of criminal activity. Has anybody been attacked on this stretch of road? I’m pretty sure she’s talking about Comrie/Coral.

Maybe Gurlbike thinks the neighborhood is high in violent crime because the neighborhood *IS* high in volent crime.

That would be a pretty good reason to consider the possibility, wouldn’t it?

I actually haven’t heard of anyone attached in that alleyway, itself. Plenty of reports in the neighborhood. You’d be hard pressed to find a place in Pittsburgh where street mugging were more popular.

On a bike, I’d be a little more worried in some other locations.

Negley near Penn. Or maybe on ELB. But just a smidgeon more anxious. Coral’s pretty much up there.

I suppose she might be talking about Penn Ave in East Liberty. Or Penn Ave in Point Breeze/Wilkinsburg.

No great difference.

Any place near Penn, if you meander through alleys at midnight, you might find highly energetic young people that want to interact with you.

I don’t personally care for Gurlbike’s taste in fou fou places to ride a bike to, but then, hey, I’m a bro. I do my yoga at home.

Also, if the map had everything everyone wanted? The map would be too busy for anyone to read.

Nick D

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Feb 4 2013 at 11:16pm #

Mick, I wish that were the case, but it is factually untrue. North Point Breeze, the area she is talking about, had 3 times less violent crimes per resident than the Southside Flats, about half that of Polish Hill, and has about the same rate of violent crime as Oakland. While Shadyside may have had half of the violent crimes per resident as N Point Breeze, it does tend to have 4 times as many in general*.

I think it is also important to mention that, as far as I know, the rate of violent crime against people riding bikes is much higher among male cyclists. Additionally, though I don’t have the data in front of me, I believe attacks against people riding bike have been much higher in the area around ELB than the area about Penn and Braddock, even going into Wilkinsburg.

* Calculated by comparing census data to the City’s annual police report over the past few years.


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Feb 5 2013 at 12:58am #

What edmonds said back on page 1 about “dig a little deeper than the tone” is pretty close to my own feelings. I don’t agree with the way she expressed some things, but I don’t think marginalizing women is what she was going for.

I did volunteer at the event at Chatham (along with Lori F. whom we haven’t seen here in a while). I’m not sure if the person who wrote the article was there, but I do remember discussing this idea of a “map for women”. I didn’t agree with the premise on the basis that the suggestions were not women-specific. I really don’t agree with the idea of making a “bad neighborhoods map” which is problematic for a whole host of reasons. But, definitely some of the ideas are worth considering for the next bike-pgh map.


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Feb 5 2013 at 9:58am #

North point breeze, while it may statistically be safer, has a reputation as a bit dangerous due to people talking about assaults on cyclists. A couple summers ago (2010 I think) it kind of peaked in the East Liberty and North Point Breeze area. It’s not really the numbers as much as the perception of danger due to this history. These are what people in the cycling community remember since it happened to people on bikes.


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Feb 5 2013 at 1:49pm #

The plural of anecdote is not data.


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Feb 5 2013 at 2:43pm #

Oh, I don’t want to be making a bad neighborhood map either. That sounds like a really terrible idea for lots of different reasons.

I can see why in the context of cycling, people might have a bias against riding on stretches which attacks occurred and that that bias might persist even after the passing of some time. People were being hit by drivers (which does strike a dfferent cord due) on penn ave towards wilkinsburg this summer, and as such, I thought a lot more about avoiding that stretch of road, and the city encouraged the same. I also avoided riding thomas and mead st in the evening after the assualt on the worker from the food co-op was attacked. Of course, most of those posts were two years ago, and I don’t really specifically avoid any of those areas now when riding.

However, I don’t know how the author came to their conclusions about what areas are “bad”. It does seem like it might be coming from a place not related to these incidents, but I’m not going to speculate on that too much.


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Feb 5 2013 at 4:55pm #

There are a lot of criteria that could go into a bike map app, I could sympathize with some she mentioned. But it’s a colossal undertaking, gathering the data and keeping it up to date, and then turning all that into something usable.

Let’s just say, maybe, ~MAYBE~ it could be done as some sort of google maps mashup (not sure if routing is an option, if not major feature hole) but even assuming you solve the data collection problem (and good luck on that one), I strongly suspect you’re going to run into other walls and it would take a primary maps service provider to really do this for you.

And crime stats feel like the worst kind of thing to try and load in there, both because data quality is low (or at least, you hope there are few enough data points you can say that), because people’s tolerance to it varies so wildly, and because pedestrian traffic (I count bike traffic in that category because of range of vision / ease of rerouting in case someone’s feeling brave) is one of those things that makes a place safer so you’re strengthening an existing negative feedback loop by discouraging it.


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Feb 5 2013 at 5:40pm #

For a bicyclist, a “bad neighborhood map” would highlight areas with lots of potholes, no coffee shops, no bike shops, roads that don’t get cleared when it snows, and a high bike theft rate. What are the rest of yinz talking about?

But seriously, I’d like to mention the Comfort Zone Maps at, which is a thoughtful, alternative mapping of another way of looking at Pittsburgh urban bicycling.


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Feb 5 2013 at 8:09pm #

I would be quite suspect of linking up criminal activity to a map. There are so many other variables involved, not the least of which are time of day and day of week. Let’s throw a couple more in there: Did it occur in the public right-of-way or on private property? Were victim and assailant already known to one another? Was the victim on foot or bike, or rather in a car?

Subtract all the factors that do not involve personal threats to cyclists and pedestrians, and adjust for when one will be traveling through any given area, and I contend nearly everyplace is fairly safe most of the time, and that you have more to fear from car traffic than anything else.

To do anything else is to promote FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.


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Mar 7 2013 at 12:44pm #

I could have started a new thread, but this one seemed both on topic and recent.

Nice little StreetFilms video about women and biking. Well worth four minutes of your time.

And is that a snippet of Pittsburgh just after Elly Blue’s comments around 2:30? It looks a lot like (the old) FreeRide, and then someone who looks a bit like Caitlin.


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Mar 7 2013 at 5:12pm #

I don’t think the bridge scene at 2:30 was Pittsburgh. But the video is great anyway.


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Mar 8 2013 at 10:39am #

I don’t think that’s free ride either, but great find Stu! I’m stealing this!

All the comments on the video are very right-on!


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Mar 12 2013 at 11:31am #

Just curious, did anybody attend any of the women’s session things at the Bike Summit? I wouldn’t mind hearing some reportage from that, if so.
Any plans to implement anythings here? Other than working to make the entire city more bike friendly, of course.
Also, cool little film. Seemed to contain a lot of actionable points.


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Mar 12 2013 at 3:55pm #

I saw Elly Blue’s post, and thought that it feeds right into what Flock is doing, renaming the whole concept of a ride as a bike party.

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