This Mother’s Day, May 12, some moms will sleep in and demand breakfast in bed. Others will wake up and grab their helmets for CycloFemme, a women’s biking movement that’s organizing group rides around the globe—from Sacramento to South Sudan.
Girl Bike Love founder Sarai Snyder founded CycloFemme last year as a celebration of women on bikes, and the event included 163 rides in 14 countries. To show unity, women wore temporary tattoos with the CycloFemme logo. This year, the team hopes to double that number, and so far, 117 rides have been registered in 32 U.S. states and 15 countries.
So why do women need a day to pedal in solidarity?
“In the sport itself, there’s a lot of inequity between women and men. It’s a little bit of a boy’s club,” says Tanya Quick, the New York founder of design and branding firm Language Dept., which created CycloFemme’s logo, website, and branding. “There have been a lot of studies showing that women want to ride, but they don’t, for lots of reasons.”
Reasons like fear of traffic (especially in Manhattan!) and the intimidating, male-dominated feel of bike shops. CycloFemme doesn’t address every barrier out there, but it gives visibility to the community of women cyclists around the world, and, since rides are organized in a grassroots way by individuals, it empowers women to get out and ride.
“It doesn’t put any limits on you. It’s something you can create yourself at whatever level or distance works. There’s real power in that; its inspiring and inviting,” says Velojoy founder Susi Wunsch. “Take your mom, take your little sister—it’s that kind of day.”
And women are seizing the opportunity. There are rides scheduled in Houston, Omaha, Krakow, and Kyoto. In New York City, five rides have already been scheduled—three in Brooklyn, one to Nyack, and one from Central Park to Astoria.
Quick isn’t surprised, and the power of getting more women on bikes, she says, shouldn’t be underestimated. “We believe that if you want to get more people on bikes, you need to start by getting more women on bikes. Women are game changers. We’re so social—we talk about what we do, bring our friends along, and put our kids on bikes. More women on bikes has larger implications for health and fitness and wellness, but also for the sustainability of the planet.” —Lisa Elaine Held