Interview with Robin L Woods of Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) Pittsburgh
This is the latest installment of our new Community Spotlight Series, which aims to highlight the incredible work being done here in Pittsburgh to uplift our communities and promote equity and inclusion in cycling.
Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in this work?
“My name is Robin L. Woods, I was born and raised in Pgh PA. I recently retired from corporate America where I worked for the last 40 years in the insurance industry. I rode bikes a lot as a child and this time of the year makes me think about a candy apple red bike I got one Christmas when I was about 7 years old. I continued to ride e-bikes into my late teens to my early twenties. Then there was a bike riding hiatus until I was reintroduced to biking in 2003 by my brother that I taught to ride my candy apple red bike. My actual love for cycling developed in about 2005 when I joined my 1st bike club.”
Tell us a little bit about Black Girls Do Bike! How does this project support your community?
“I am highlighting Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) EST 2013 by Monica Garrison whose mission is to provide a secure environment where specifically women of color can introduce, share, and inspire one another. Each BGDB chapter has an agreed lady called a SHERO/Co-SHERO whose responsibility is to uphold the mission of the group by leading monthly community group rides all while supporting members of all skill levels. Another role of the SHERO is to build relationships with the local bike shops, clubs, and any infrastructure that proves conducive to our specified goals and needs.”
What are your hopes for the future of the BBDB?
“My immediate hope as a SHERO for the Pittsburgh Chapter of BGDB is to develop a strategy that would encourage women of color to elevate and in many cases begin their cycling routine by trusting in an organization that will ultimately make them a better cyclist through group cycling and educational processes that highlights safety first.”
What resources/ funding/ volunteers/tools/equipment do you need to keep on going? How can people who read this article help?
“I wish I knew the real reason why some women of color, some of which have very nice bikes and don’t ride them. I am also perplexed as to why some women are opposed to group riding. While group rides may not be appealing to everyone, group rides are what got me and the women that I ride with to where we are today. I feel the lack of education, self-confidence is a hindrance for many. Confidence is something that has to be gained and constantly nurtured. If there were an educational component associated with BGDB provided in a “judgment-free zone” perhaps we could capture more interest of black and brown women.
Educating women on how to bicycle is just one component, knowing how to purchase a bike and understanding a proper bike fit is equally important. If you have the wrong bike for the type of cycling you want to do, or if the fit is incorrect, you will not enjoy your ride and eventually quit cycling. So, how can we bring women together in a comfortable environment?
- Conducting a poll asking what it would take to get more women out cycling.
- Incentivize women in an attempt to gain their attention.
- Bike Pittsburgh being in a position to offer education by a USA Licensed Coach or LCI Licensed Certified Instructor through The American League of Cyclist.
- Arrange private and or semi-private coaching sessions that would be free to the BGDB member in a methodological scholarship or endowment format.”
How can people get involved with BGCB?
Anything else you would like to share?
“I would like to share the fact that I love helping people, and knowing that has made a difference in the lives of others. My gift of helping was enhanced over the years when I became the caregiver of my elderly grandmother in the early ’90s, then my mother, and most recently my father. When you put my two passions together, it only makes sense that I love helping people within the cycling community.”