This week, after meeting our community partner, Janice, and learning about the SF Bicycle Coalition and the project we will be working on, we met to brainstorm about our project’s trajectory, to sync our schedules, and to generally get to know each other better. We discussed our strengths and areas of expertise as they relate to our project, and found that we possess a diverse array of skills that will come in handy for this project. For instance, Katie and Mia have experience with graphic design, and have worked on projects involving community outreach and event planning, While Ana Sophia has experience and knowledge surrounding behavior-change programs.
During our meeting, the three of us set a few basic deadlines, and scheduled group meetings that will occur over the next several weeks. We also clarified transportation plans for our upcoming visit to San Francisco, which will take place next Friday, January 20th. Most importantly, we developed a list of questions to ask our community partner, Janice, that will help us to gain a better understanding of her expectations, as well as of the project’s general scope and objectives. We emailed the list to Janice, and Mia will meet with Janice this Saturday to discuss these questions in person. The list of inquiries is as follows:
1. What are Janice’s expectations for the toolkit?
- For a point of comparison, look to the Washington/Philadelphia toolkits.
- What should ours look like in reference to these?
3. What is the objective of the toolkit?
Are we creating a roadmap for starting a Women on Bicycles program that someone else will use later on? Or are we implementing the program ourselves?
4. How do the focus groups relate to the toolkit?
5. What is the research component?
- Focus groups: Who is involved? Who is responsible for organizing these?
- How is this related to outreach to other organizations?
7. What is the general development and completion timeline for each component of the project?
Some of our key goals for Saturday’s conversation are to clarify the project components, and to ensure that Janice has a firm understanding of the skillsets that each of us have to offer. We are excited to hit the ground running with our project and have already begun to brainstorm for our Project Scope of Work.
II. What was Observed and Learned:
Who is the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and what do they do?
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is a member driven non-profit with a 10,000 current and active membership base. They were established in 1971 and their mission is to transform San Francisco’s streets and neighborhoods into more livable and safe places by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation.
Why do they want to increase the number of women on bikes?
There were several motivations for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to focus on women and biking and create this project for us to get involved in:
- According to the League of American Bicyclists, 82% of American women have a positive view of bicyclists From 2003 to 2012, the number of women and girls who bicycle rose 20%
- Also according to the League, Women are the new majority: 60% of bicycle owners aged 17-28 years old are women
- Ridership among women in the U.S. is 27%, in San Francisco the percentage is just above 30%.
- Women make up about 40% of riders in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
- However women make up more than 55% of the riders in the Netherlands.
These lead to the driving question and purpose of the project:
How do we get more women on bikes in San Francisco?
Currently, our plan is to create our toolkit by drawing upon existing women-focused bike programs for inspiration. These programs include the Washington Bay Area Association Women & Bikes initiative, the Women Bike PHL, created by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and the WE Bike NYC campaign.
III. Critical Analysis:
The first week of class we looked at sustainable cities with a very multi-disciplinary lense. Not only did we evaluate a city’s sustainability by looking at its impact on the environment, but also by focusing on its impact on its community members. We will take the same approach in our project as we look at women’s bicycle ridership from a combined social, scientific, and environmental perspective. There are very tangible benefits to encouraging bicycle ridership amongst women. These include increased health for women, lower environmental impact, and reduced traffic congestion. Unfortunately, there are several barriers to women’s ridership as well, and these are less tangible, ranging from machismo and the cultural role of women in society to safety concerns and convenience.
The League of American Bicyclists suggests that a good way to increase women’s ridership is to focus on improving convenience, increasing women-oriented consumer products, increasing confidence amongst women, and building a community of women bikers. Regrettably, even if our group addresses all 5 of the the league of American Bicyclists suggestions, we can still expect to receive some cultural pushback from women in America. According to an article in The Guardian, “despite years of progress, American women’s lives are still disproportionately filled with driving children around, getting groceries, and doing other household chores – housework that doesn’t lend itself easily to two-wheeled transportation.” American society is simply not yet conducive to women’s bicycle ridership! Thus, we predict that such cultural issues will be one of the biggest challenges we will face in our project, but we look forward to tackling it head on.
Until next week,
Ana Sophia, Katie, and Mia