As the president of my college's environmental club, I spent two years educating people about environmentally-friendly alternatives to everyday life. I practiced everything that I preached, except for alternative transportation. Being from the San Gabriel Valley, I never thought about using anything but a car to get around.
In September 2012, I got on a bike for the first time since I was a kid. I was so nervous while our group discussed the route and destination. Without much warning, the ride began and within thirty seconds my hesitations had turned into a sense of freedom. As time went on I joined more rides and began completing short commutes by bicycle.
During this time, my boyfriend brought me to Bike San Gabriel Valley's monthly Bike Train along the Emerald Necklace. I got to know the volunteers of BikeSGV and started to learn more about why bicycles are so important - not only for the environment but for mental and physical health as well.
As I learned more, I realized how important active transportation is, especially in low income areas where health disparities are high. In these areas, many people cannot afford a car and there aren't many resources for cyclists. Through BikeSGV, I plan to play a role in providing these areas with the resources they need such as education, community rides, and bike maintenance and repairs.
A few months ago, BikeSGV reached out to me in regards of creating a women's group due to the fact that the majority of BikeSGV volunteers are males. While women do participate in rides, their numbers aren't as great as men's and very few of these women have shown an interest in becoming involved with bicycle advocacy. WoW (Women on Wheels), a project of BikeSGV recognizes the need for a safe, encouraging space where women of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities feel comfortable biking. WoW is working to create that space and provide the resources necessary for women to comfortably bike, whether it be for recreation, commuting, or running errands.
Currently, we host weekly rides on Friday mornings. These rides begin at Encanto Park (777 Encanto Parkway, Duarte) and they last from 7AM-8AM. The point of these rides are to get women out for a morning ride, especially for those who want to start riding or just ride with a group of women.
Women on Wheels is also hosting our first Bright Ride on Sunday, October 12th. This event is free and fun, and it will explore the Rio Hondo bike path. We will meet at Peck Road Park at 9AM and begin our ride at 9:30AM. Once we reach Whittier Narrows Park, we'll stop for a snack break and a discussion on WoW's efforts. Why is there a 3:1 male:female cyclist ratio? How bike-friendly is the San Gabriel Valley for women? As the name says, we also encourage women to wear the brightest and most colorful clothing. A link to this event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1484339705170785/.
It is an exciting time to be a cyclist in the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County. Ideals are changing and our streets are getting a makeover, and it is so exciting to be a part of the process.
About Nikki Hermann
Nikki Hermann is a lifelong resident of the San Gabriel Valley and a recent graduate from Cal Poly Pomona. While working towards a bachelor's degree in Environmental Biology, she served for two years as president of The Green Team, the college’s coalition for the environment, where she played a role in advocating for active transportation, healthier food options, and improved public knowledge of local and global environmental issues. Currently, Nikki is a participant in the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy and a volunteer for BikeSGV, both of which help her focus on her passion for public health and environmental advocacy and education. In addition, Nikki has been tutoring students in math and science all over the San Gabriel Valley for the past two years and currently volunteers as an educator for the Whittier Narrows Youth Science Center. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cycling, camping, traveling, gardening, reading, and spending time with her friends and her dog.