When my friend B announced she was starting a Tumblr with photos of Women of Color (WoC) riding bikes and looking fabulous doing it, I thought, “cool!” And then I proceeded to scroll through my favorite bike fashion blogs, looking for photos to send her. Which quickly turned into thoughts of “$%*#! I know I saw a photo of a black woman on this bike blog somewhere.” Five pages into one such blog, there was nary a non-white person in sight.
That’s when I realized that ShesFastOnHerBike.tumblr.com is a really important project. Because even on blogs that attempt to be inclusive, it’s tough to find good photos of non-white people riding (this blog included). It’s harder if you’re specifically looking for women.
I don’t want to get into trying to parse the sociological arguments of why, in our image over-saturated culture, there are so few photos of WoC on bikes. If you don’t believe me though, Google Image search “black women biking” or any set of related terms. In the given example, you will find a handful of photos from Black Women Bike – an awesome, D.C. based organization – and then pages and pages of images of white legs wearing black bike shorts.
I think this is important because our views of society/reality are partly formed by our lived experience… and partly influenced by the media. Before I could try winter biking, I needed to know that it wasn’t just a bike shop girl thing – that women like me did it, women who worked in offices and had to look pretty for meetings and stuff. I found that confirmation by meeting real live women at biking events in Minneapolis, further supported by reading blogs like Bike Fancy Chicago.
In the latest issue of Bicycle Times, Veronica O. Davis, founder of Black Women Bike, talks about hearing a little girl yell, “Mommy, there’s a BLACK woman on a bike!” as Davis rode down the street. For someone out there to start biking in the first place, she needs to know that it’s not just a white people thing. It helps if, once she tries it, she doesn’t feel like the token brown lady.
And I really want this hypothetical person to ride a bike. First, I want everyone to experience the freedom, fitness, and euphoric cyclist’s high that I get from riding. I also want more people to ride for selfish reasons, so we can form a large voting bloc and overturn the usual car > bicycle hierarchy of the city streets, which would make my life easier.
I digress. Like most good Tumblrs, She’s Fast on Her Bike is a well edited, thematic set of photos, with occasional text thrown in. B is compiling a growing resource of images of black, brown, red and yellow women on bikes. She draws some inspiration from Cycle Chic (her images mostly show women sans-helmet) yet She’s Fast on her Bike has a decidedly feminist flavor. These women are flat-out sexy at times, but they also appear confident, as in-charge of their destinies as they are of their two-wheel destination. They are style muses for active women of any skin tone. B herself rides regularly, has worked at a bike shop, and knows of what she blogs. Oh yeah, and she also gave me a nice shout-out last week. Thanks!
So go bookmark/follow her blog. And submit photos!