Women on Bikes

January/February 2012

We are still in our beta version here at WoBSoCal, still getting our legs under us as a full-fledged website magazine, and are so appreciative for the interest and support coming our way. Thank you! This new issue is much fuller and richer and we so hope you'll take time to wander through many pages for inspiration to get out and ride your very own way. You'll find the full issue's links just at the right.

This month we are delighted to share an insightful cover feature with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's top two ladies Executive Director Jennifer Klausner and Planning & Policy Director Alexis Lantz. Photographer Allan Crawford, Makeup and Hair Goddess Yve Hart and I spent a wonderful afternoon in Long Beach getting to know both of these very special women a little better and learning what's on the horizon for their organization.

Both of our regular columnists Kerri Zane and April Economides have excellent new pieces. Kerri looks into "Biking to a New Resolution" in "Health by Bike" and April gives us an overview of Long Beach's "Bike Friendly Business District Program" she's created for the City.

This month I feel particularly blessed to have interviewed two women of great integrity and wisdom. This month we've launched a new column "Finding the Female Advocate Voice" where we will seek insight and ideas from women across a broad spectrum of specialties - not just bicycle and active living advocacy. As WoBSoCal is mostly a creation of words I decided Portland's author/writer/creativity coach Charlotte Rains Dixon (aka Wordstrumpet) would be the perfect person to launch the concept of finding our voice.

In "The Artistic Bike" this month we share Debi Kindler's poignant and joyful "The Road Back to Bikefulness." This article is especially touching and special to us here in Long Beach as it shares the late Mark Bixby's wonderful portraits of Debi celebrating her bike commute. I am very grateful to Theresa Bixby for allowing us to share these images.

This website would not be possible without Allan Crawford's amazing talent and generosity as a photographer, nor the support of the team at Bikeable Communities. We have a very special issue already lining up for our March issue and hope you'll not only stay tuned, but consider sharing your own "bike love" story with us. Write to me!

Here's to Happy & Healthy Bikefulnes in the New Year!

Melissa

November 2011

Photo: Matt Fukushima

We start out of the gate this month with Long Beach's engaging Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal on our cover in a beautiful photo by Allan Crawford. Suja has been one of our the key political cheerleaders for the bike-friendly movement in Long Beach, and one of the first women we asked for support from as we begn putting "Women on Bikes" together. We are proud to have her as one of our key spokes-people.

A native of India, Suja spent her first seven years immersed in a culture where the bike is still a major form of transportation for millions of people. She has vivid and visceral memories of being ridden to school every morning by her Father on his bike, and we'll be sharing those memories here via video very soon. A very busy single mom, business woman and politician, Suja is a "dress for the destination" bicyclist who avidly wears a helmet while riding - but guess what? She may be dressed in heels too! And she wants women and girls to feel just fine with whatever level of riding a bike feels comfortable for them, perhaps it's commuting to school, perhaps it's enjoying rides on the weekend with their families on a beach bike path.

We're beginning Women on Bikes SoCal locally from a home-base in Long Beach California where both the City and its residents are making profound inroads into creating a compelling and attractive bike culture, but we're thinking regionally and globally as well. How do we support a movement and inspire others to join? How can we support the advocates already on the ground doing such great work such as the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition and our sponsor Bikeable Communities, yet also engage a whole new audience who have not yet considered bike advocacy before? How can we be both meaningful and enjoyable to participate in?

For me personally, as a writer and an editor, it always goes back to the caliber of the story telling. I am always looking for the stories of individuals to inspire me. You will find a myriad of personal stories here at WoBSoCal from a variety of angles and interests.

When I was toying with the idea of riding a bike again two years ago I was worried that I was simply too frail and out of shape (you can read more about that here), but still I was intrigued. I loved riding a bike as a child and really wanted to do it again. I'm happy to say I had friends who encouraged me to try. Since then I've been inspired daily by the dynamic and organic bicycling culture here in my hometown. Living as I do close to the downtown area, I can stand on my street corner and watch a fascinating array of people ride by on bikes everyday - many of them women.  I've also been profoundly inspired by the Cycle Chic phenomenon from Copenhagen and the world wide movement of beautiful and engaging female-focused bike blogs that have sprouted up because of Mikhael's groundbreaking story telling and compelling imagery of women and families "dressing for their daily lives, not their bicycle commute." It's an "aha" idea that's taking the world by storm. Won't you join in?

Melissa Balmer