March 15 - May 14, 2012

Me on my new bike courtesy of The HuB community bike center!

This is a very bittersweet week for me. We are having amazing synergy and synchronicity here at Women On Bikes SoCal and I feel so very blessed about it. This is our most complete and interesting issue yet, and I feel very honored to have been able to interview both's and Bicycle Anthropologist Mikael Colvill-Andersen and journalist and cyclist Steven Rea of the beautiful new book "Hollywood Rides a Bike." I'm also delighted to share that we have a new journalism intern Melissa Bell, who has two pieces in this issue - a Beautiful by Bike profile and her own Bike Love Blog. I'm also very excited that Katie Taylor is keeping me posted on her journey through Southeast Asia and will be reporting back to us all about it for our next issue.

April Economides has a terrific interview this issue with the Bikenomics concept creator and journalist Elly Blue of Portland in Bikes Mean Business and Kerri Zane shares with us her secret high metabolism foods in Health by Bike that help keep her in such incredible shape.

This week we also found out that Momentum Magazine is not only interested in a story about us, but they were so dazzled by one of Allan Crawford's gorgeous images of our spokeswoman Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal that they requested we try and get a cover shot! So guess what Allan, Suja and I will be doing tomorrow? You guessed it. If you see us out and about on Pine Ave. snapping pics won't you say hello?

This week is bittersweet because 3/16/11 we lost an incredible human being here in Long Beach. Local businessman and bicycle advocate Mark Bixby was killed in a plane crash along with several other friends. The only survivor was Mark's boss and fellow avid cyclist Mike Jensen (who is an inspiration to us all with his amazing recovery). This past August when I was first putting together the concept presentation that would become this website and advocacy initiative I thought of Mark, and his beautiful wife Theresa, quite often. Mark's motto was, "Go Big or Go Home." He was passionate, gregarious, charming, focused, charismatic and was a leader who wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. For me he was the epitome of a leader, and he was terrific at inspiring others to go for their own "Go Big" ideas - this website is mine.

But in the "give back" advocacy of this initiative it is the vision of Theresa Bixby and Children Today, the local Long Beach non-profit she helped found (and still serves) that cares for and educates small children of homeless families, that inspired me to think of new ways Women On Bikes SoCal might help the underserved. I was introduced to Children Today and the marvelous work they do when I took a tour and met their lovely Executive Director Dora Jacildo. Until I gave up my car for both financial and health reasons in 2007 I didn't understand how much a bike can be a passport to mobility independence. We are fortunate that Long Beach has very good mass transit, but you still have to take quite a bit of time to figure out how to get where you want to go and well, buses can be delayed. With your own bike you are always ready to get up and go.

In the spirit of that concept, of the bike as a tool for optimism, we are running our "Let's Double the Number of Women & Girls" campaign to create 12 new female bicycle safety instructors of the highest caliber to serve their communities and create cost effecitive and time efficient bicycle safety courses for anyone who wants and needs them. We have created an IndieGoGo campaign (see on your left hand side of the screen) so that donors can have the convenience of donating via credit card, and we can accept donations via paypal here online as well. If you feel bicycle safety education is crucial we hope you'll consider joining us for our 3/24 "Why Style Matters" friend & fundraising event - or simply donate today here!

Best Wishes for a Wonderful Spring!

Melissa Balmer