About eight months ago, I had my two friends Mimi Webb and Jeannie Martin join me for a beer so that I could present them with an idea. I went to California the end of last summer for two separate Bicycle Conferences. At both conferences, there were specific ‘women forums’ to continue to forward efforts of increasing women ridership here in the U.S. Leaving California, I was both inspired and new what I had to do in Ohio. Fast forward to the evening with Mimi and Jeannie. I told them I planned to organize the first statewide ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit’ and would they be interested in joining me in this effort. Immediately, they said ‘hell yes!” So, for eight months, Jeannie, Mimi, and myself met and planned out this Summit.
Interest and excitement generated, immediately. Our main sponsors, ROLL and Trek were absolutely incredible. Then, Detroit’s ‘Autobike’ got in touch with us. ARC Imaging donated printing costs for us. And last but not least, food trucks! OH! Burgers! and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams sponsored and killed it during lunch time Green Bean Delivery covered all of the yummy fruits during the Summit. Thank you to all the talented and incredible speakers: Lisa Hinson, Tammy Krings, Marjorie Shavers, Lindsay Sherman, Lindsey Bower, Emily Burnett, Ohio’s First Lady Karen Kasich, Julie Walcoff, and Rep. Teresa Fedor.
72 women from around the state of Ohio and two women from Indiana. The overwhelming positive responses from both the attendees and the presenters was absolutely amazing. The Summit ran without any huge hiccups. Women were learning, asking questions, laughing, meeting new women, and just enjoying themselves.
I’m grateful for such an amazing first Summit. This will turn into an annual event. My main focus is making our city inviting and safe to more modes of transportation. Men, women, and children deserve ‘choice’ to be able to move about our cities and feel safe doing so. Us advocates can provide the education; can organize bike rides to build confidence; but there are other components in making people feel that ‘choice,’ in moving around is priority: political will and infrastructure. Our wide, arterial streets need to be road dieted and designed with protected bike lanes. The perception of safety is what I feel a lot of our engineers are missing. I’ll say it until the light bulb goes off, ‘sharrows do not invite families to ride and feel safe on arterial streets that are four + lanes across and each lane 12+ wide. Road diets, the narrowing of lanes, and an integrated bicycle network of green lanes, protected lanes, bike boxes, etc. will announce that our leaders are serious about inviting people of all ages to move around the city. Our leaders making decisions need to be okay with hearing complaints instead of trying to please everyone. When you create change, you’re gonna hear complaints but the only way to change behavior is to change the infrastructure. You’re NOT changing the infrastructure when you lay down sharrows.
We have a long way to go and we’re doing better but… we could be doing even MORE. We can be building and piloting innovative and bold infrastructure that IS WORKING in other cities. If we continue to remain status- quo as a city, we’ll continue to get left behind.
Some photos from the first ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit.’
Be safe and keep riding!