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Do you promote biking for older adults?

Re: 1896 bike map: If you read the last couple of paragraphs in the first column, the piece highlights the great riding on Conduit Road. We know it today as MacArthur Blvd...which is still one of the favorites for riders in the DC area.

I also learned - via Google's Field Trip app - that bike races along Conduit Rd. were very well attended through the 2nd half of the 19th Century.

Jane,

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association does teach adult "learn to ride" classes in the DC area.

The schedule and location varies. You can see the current schedule at this site:

http://waba.org/education/calendar.php

You can also contact them for additional information - the information is along the left side of the linked page.

"“It’s just plain more complicated for me than it is for my male colleagues who 1) have no hair and 2) don’t have to transport young kids,” said one respondent. “The level of infrastructure and institutional support that’s sufficient for them isn’t sufficient for me."

This quote is particularly bad, but this issue in general is what really kinda bothers me about much of the discussion about getting women to bike...the inherent assumption that parenting is the realm of women, and they are the ones who primarily have to tackle the parental obstacles to cycling. I know plenty of dads who shuttle their kids around on bikes or go riding with their kids on weekends...it's not just a "mom issue" it's a society issue.

But I suppose it bothers me less from a cycling standpoint (although I do think there are unintended consequences), but more from a general feminist/equality standpoint, again, because it's based on a lot of negative gender role stereotypes...I think framing the argument in terms of "this is what moms need" is counterproductive on a lot of fronts.

I don't mean this as a direct criticism of Ms. Odett...it's hard to tell from her quotes if she addresses this issue in a more nuanced way...but the article frames it kinda poorly.

Jane, I've written about adult tricycles and the AARP's position on cycling. I'm pretty sure that there are a few health articles I've linked to. It is a good point that while WABA and national bike organizations are making an effort to reach out to women and minorities (good lord, it sounds like the Republican party) they could make the same effort with one of the fastest growing demographics - senior citizens.

MM, thanks for your comment. To give a brief response to the issue you raise: yes, I did bring larger feminist issues up in my talk and in the Q&A session afterwards. I used a metaphor that we’ve come to call “the Social Justice Pie” in our house, where I described some of the larger socio-economic and structural issues that still impact women’s lives, then suggested to the audience of bike advocates that they consider just how large a chunk of the “pie” they wanted to bite off.

I did want to address another point in your comment. You referred to “the inherent assumption that parenting is the realm of women, and they are the ones who primarily have to tackle the parental obstacles to cycling” and suggested that the larger discussion of women cycling is based on “negative gender role stereotypes”.

Sadly, these issues are not just “assumptions” and “stereotypes”. They are the researched and documented realities of women’s—especially mothers’—lives. See, for example here: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=111458 (study from the National Science Foundation demonstrating that women still perform more housework than men, and that the disparity grows significantly with the addition of children to the household) and here: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-20071588.html (CBS News summary of a study showing that, while fathers have doubled the amount of time they spend on childcare in the past few decades, they still spend only half as much time per week as mothers on child care). There’s another great statistic showing that women are responsible for some stupidly high percentage of passenger trips in families with children—maybe even as high as 90%--but I can’t track it down at the moment.

This is the reality that we live in—-and it’s the reality that I reminded the audience of bike advocates at the Women’s Bicycling Summit they were going to have to work with if they want to make changes in the number of women who bicycle. Do I wish it weren’t this way? Of course! Do I think it’s fair to task a room full of bike advocates with taking on issues like the exorbitant cost of childcare in the U.S., our lack of paid maternity leave, and the shameful way many employers treat men who are striving for the same work-life balance as their wives? Well, no. While they are important issues that every American citizen should be concerned about, I don’t think they are within the professional scope of bicycle advocates. (That’s what I mean by “the social justice pie”, above.)

You’re not the first person who’s raised this issue, and I think it’s an important one that we in the bicycle AND feminist communities need to keep wrestling with. Maybe if I manage to track down those statistics—-in between serving as the family chauffeur and short-order cook—-I’ll write up a more detailed exploration of the larger issues and assumptions inherent in our discussion of women and parents cycling.

And maybe Washcycle will post it here for you to read. ☺

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