The Washington area has two organizations devoted to getting black women and girls to ride bicycles: Black Women Bike and a local chapter of the national group Black Girls Do Bike. This video by Groundswell talks about why these are important.

Greater Greater Washington contributor Veronica Davis co-founded Black Women Bike in 2011. In the video, she talks about why she started the group. When riding through a neighborhood, she overheard a little girl tell her mom excitedly that she saw a black woman on a bicycle — an unusual sight for that girl, but an opportunity to show the girl that she, too, could ride.

In addition to Veronica Davis, the video includes interviews with Najeema Davis of Black Women Bike and Monica Garrison of Black Girls Do Bike. One big question they answer is about why it’s necessary to have groups like theirs in the first place. Can’t it just be “people of all colors and genders bike”?

Veronica Davis explains that there is a persistent stereotype that bicycling is just something that black women don’t do. Some reinforcement comes from black women themselves, but also society at large. Getting over those mental barriers is an important step even though the act of riding a bike isn’t all that hard.

Despite the best intentions of other bicycle groups, if there are few black people and even fewer black women in a group ride, some people will feel that bicycling just “isn’t for them.”

The group rides encourage people to try out something that might have seemed too hard or too risky before. Davis says that the group rides with black women of all ages and sizes is the best way to expand the community.

You can check out the other videos in the series at Groundswell.

Tagged: bicycling, race, video

Canaan Merchant was born and raised in Powhatan, Virginia and attended George Mason University where he studied English. He became interested in urban design and transportation issues when listening to a presentation by Jeff Speck while attending GMU. He lives in Reston.