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Posts from the "Women" Category

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Arizona Police Arrest “Jaywalking” Professor in Racially-Charged Incident

Arizona earned its reputation for police excess yet again recently when an officer demanded identification of an African-American pedestrian — for the crime of walking in a campus street to avoid construction on the sidewalk — and got violent when she refused to produce it.

Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore was walking around some construction on the Tempe college campus last month when an ASU police officer stopped her. Before she could even explain why she was walking in the street, he asked her for ID. When she bristled at the request, he threatened her with arrest. Before long, he had slammed her violently to the ground, her body exposed, and his hands in all the wrong places.

“The reason I’m talking to you right now is because you’re walking in the middle of the street,” Officer Stewart Ferrin told Ore when he stopped her. “That’s called obstruction of a public thoroughfare.”

“I’ve been here for over three years and everybody walks this street,” she replied. “Everybody’s been doing this because it’s all obstructed. That’s the reason why. But you stop me in the middle of street to pull me over and you ask me, ‘Do you know what this is? This is a street — ’”

“This is a street,” Ferrin interjects.

Then he demands that she put her hands behind her back, she demands that he take his hands off her, and trigger warnings start to fly.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Live (Well, Taped) From the National Bike Summit

This week, more than 700 bicycling advocates converged in Washington — despite a snowstorm that closed down the federal government on Monday cancelled thousands of flights — to learn from each other and compare notes from the past year.

Tuesday, as the summit wound down and participants started gearing up for Wednesday’s Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, Jeff and I were joined by Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke, Suepinda Keith of Triangle Bikeworks in Chapel Hill, and Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland for this very special 45-minute Bike Summit episode of the podcast.

The Women’s Forum is in its third year. The League’s Equity Advisory Council came into being just before last year’s summit. These voices, historically not at the center of the national conversation about bicycling, are coming to the fore.

The five of us talk in this, our lucky 13th episode, about how effectively the movement is transitioning to a more inclusive approach, and we share some of the highlights of the summit, including some truly incredible work happening everywhere from Memphis to LA to Afghanistan.

Tell us in the comments about your personal highlights from the Summit. Subscribe to this podcast’s RSS feed or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

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Women’s Bicycling Forum Confronts Obstacles to Getting More Women Riding

NOW President Terry O'Neill told the Women's Forum that they need to put women -- not bicycles -- at the center of their analysis. Photo: Brian Palmer

NOW President Terry O’Neill told the Women’s Forum that they need to put women — not bicycles — at the center of their analysis. Photo: Brian Palmer

This year marks the third time a Women’s Bicycling Forum has preceded the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, and, despite weather emergencies and an epidemic of flight cancellations, this is by far the best-attended one yet.

Despite impressive momentum, the movement to get more women on bikes faces many obstacles. Yesterday, National Organization of Women President Terry O’Neill laid out some barriers to women’s cycling that don’t often make it into the conversation. When bike advocates focus on safe infrastructure, group rides, and kitten-heel-friendly bike fashion to lure women, O’Neill says they might be missing some important points.

Overlooked Factors

Commuting to work by bike is all well and good if you live near work, O’Neill said, but low-wage women workers in the service industry — who live on the poor side of town and work on the rich side — might have long commutes on dangerous arterial streets at non-traditional hours. Telling them to bike that route is a losing battle.

But it’s also an opportunity to make important connections with other movements, she said — like the fight for affordable housing in all communities, so that more people can live near their jobs.

Women are also more sensitive than men to the dangers they face, not just from cars but from predators, O’Neill noted. Being exposed and unprotected on a bike might be a deal-breaker for women who have been victims of sexual assault or stalking.

Plus, it’s well-known that women’s days are more complicated than men’s. Grocery shopping, child-care dropoff, and soccer practice all create multi-point trips with different cargo. As Megan Odett of Kidical Mass DC says, a $100 investment will allow you to do about 75 percent of everything you need to do on your bike with your kid. But to make all your trips on a bike requires an investment of thousands: Cargo bikes and electric assists are not cheap.

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The Freezing NYC-DC Bike Ride to Support Women in Cycling

The 2014 National Bike Summit is underway in our nation’s capital, starting with the Women’s Bicycling Forum, with its focus on expanding the share of women on two wheels. You can follow along on Twitter at #womenbike. In 2009, according to the League of American Bicyclists, women accounted for just 24 percent of bike trips in the country.

A team of 11 women made the journey to the Summit in DC from New York City by bike, working their way 262 miles through some of the East Coast’s major metropolises. Among the participating groups were We Bike NYC, Gearing-Up, Black Women Bike DC, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, and the Philadelphia Bike Coalition. They call their pilgrammage We Bike to DC.

Streetsblog’s Tanya Snyder caught up with a few of the riders after their arrival last night. Kristina Sepulveda of We Bike NYC, a women’s bike advocacy organization, said the journey helped illuminate the connection between transportation and inequality in the U.S.

“One of the high points for me was to see the income inequality that goes through each city and to see how much work has to be done and to see how much of that poverty is connected to transportation,” she said.

Sepulveda works with low-income groups in NYC, and she sees the effect of limited transportation options all the time. ”A lot of people I work with in New York City don’t live near transit, and in New York City that makes life very difficult,” she said. “If they were able to have a bicycle and safe routes, they would be able to do things like go to work and go to school safely.”

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SSTI to Transport Officials: Start Planning for a Future With Less Driving

For a long time in the United States, driving activity moved in step with the economy. Since economic growth was fairly steady, consistent growth in driving was built into all the traffic modeling the engineers used to plan and build streets and transportation infrastructure.

Annual, per-capita vehicle miles traveled by Americans have been declining for eight years. Image: State Smart Transportation Campaign

But now per capita driving has declined eight straight years in America. Total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) hasn’t really budged in five years, and remains below its peak. A number of things have fundamentally changed since the time when you could chart driving behavior into the future using an upward line, according to a new paper by the State Smart Transportation Initiative, a think-tank based out of the University of Wisconsin which counts 19 state DOTs among its partners.

SSTI rejects the idea that driving declines reflect the recent recession, noting that the current slump began in 2004, well before the recession started. Driving activity actually began to decouple from economic growth in 2000, SSTI says, and today they do not appear to be strongly related.

The reasons for the current decline, SSTI reports, are broad cultural and economic trends that are likely to be “permanent,” or “remain in effect for a generation or more.”

In the decades prior, driving increases were triggered by factors like rising household income and auto ownership rates, increasing participation in the workforce by women, and the swelling ranks of Baby Boomers in their most active driving years. Today, however, those trends have abated or are moving in the opposite direction.

Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, and entering a stage in their lives when they will drive less and less. The American market for car owners is mostly saturated. Meanwhile, the growth in women’s workforce participation leveled off more than 10 years ago.

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The National Push to Close the Cycling Gender Gap

Yep, those women are making a "gang sign" that represents ovaries and fallopian tubes. Image: Bike League

Women have been called an “indicator species” of a bike-friendly city because they tend to pedal more in places that are safe and practical for biking. But on those counts, the United States has some work to do.

In 2009, the last time good data was released, less than a quarter of bike trips in the U.S. — 24 percent — were made by women. Some cities are performing better than others: In Boston and Philadelphia, women make 32 percent of bike trips. In San Francisco, it’s 33 percent.

Still, we’ve got a long way to go compared to places where the gender gap has been closed. In the Netherlands, women account for 55 percent of bike trips. In Germany, it’s 49 percent. According to Bikes Belong, nearly all of the growth in cycling in the U.S. over the past two decades has come from men between the ages of 25 and 64.

Courtesy of the Women Cycling Project

So what exactly is the problem? It seems to be combination of things, ranging from the quality of U.S. bike infrastructure to the availability of bike products designed for women’s tastes. The League of American Bicyclists recently issued a report, Women on a Roll, which lays out five key factors that get more women riding.

“It seems like such a nebulous and complex issue,” said Carolyn Szczepanski, director of the league’s Women Bike program. “But there are certain things that when you look at the research, come up over and over again.”

The number one factor is establishing better infrastructure — “comfort,” they call it. There’s a lot of research that shows lack of adequate bike infrastructure is holding women back from bicycling. Cities that have made great strides in cycling infrastructure have seen the share of female cyclists rise. In Portland, for instance, it rose from 21 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2012.

“Comfort is one of the biggest drivers of whether women bike or not,” said Szczepanski. “That has to do with creating an experience for getting more people on a bike regardless of gender.”

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