There’s a group of women taking the New York City cycling community by storm and making sure others like them know they are welcome.
Black Girls Do Bike NYC (BGDB) is an organization of approximately 350 members, made up mostly of women of color from different ages and backgrounds throughout the city.
“People are ecstatic because many black girls on bikes feel like they’re the only one [on a bike],” Courtney Williams, 30, moderator for the New York Chapter, told Metro. “The fact that there is a place where they can be represented in a large number, since some of the girls come from background where sporting is discouraged. The fact that we are black women who are proud to sweat is an athletic revelation for them.”
The NYC group was founded in January 2014 a year after that first one was created in Pittsburg by Monica Garrison when she took up cycling as an adult and noticed the lack of black women on bicycles.
She wanted to see how many women of color connected under the passion of cycling; there are now chapters in 45 cities, plus Antigua.
One of their main objectives when riding is to never leave a fellow cyclist behind, as for many that is the main reason they don’t venture out into the streets.
“This is supposed to be a non-competitive environment,” Williams said. “We welcome all different skill levels, so that black women can develop their interest and that interest can grow. One of the most crushing experiences is to get dropped on a ride (left behind), and some are already anxious to meet with a group of people they don’t know.”
For some members, the group is an opportunity to take up cycling once again after not riding for years. Others see it as a way to show how one sport if not exclusive to only a set group.
“It's great to ride with other women of color because we share the same love of cycling,” said Iris Reyes, 51, from Ditmas Park. “It's important for other people of color to see that cycling is not just for "white people on expensive bikes." I'm more comfortable in this group of women that I just met this summer, than other groups I've been riding with for years."
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The group is open to cyclists of all levels and races, but want to make sure that the target audience is not forgotten as Williams feels that in the cycling world a lot of the organizations are male-dominated.
“This is supposed to be a movement and it’s a movement because there are so many other implications to biking as a black women other than recreation,” Williams said. “A black woman pursuing fitness and using an unconventional method for transportation, its alternative and that’s the freedom of it. For a black woman to pursue any or all of those things it’s revolutionary.”