Diversity in the Bicycle Adventure Club

I have been thinking a lot lately about inclusivity and diversity. Where are all the women, BAME, lgbtq+ adventurers? Why aren’t they turning up on our adventures? What can we do to increase diversity and make the Bicycle Adventure Club more inclusive? 

The truth is I am nowhere near capable nor qualified to write a blog post on this topic and yet the issue worries me. I can write a post about navigating the world being different to a lot of my peers, but it was a difference I could deny if I needed to, sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of cowardice or exhaustion. 

I simply don’t want people to feel they need to deny themselves or believe that an activity isn’t an option because they don’t see people like themselves doing it. 

Looking back on the BAC events and rides I realise it is becoming harder to ignore the fact that we are predominantly white and almost exclusively male. 

Our social media platforms have a better balance, 60% male to 40% female of mostly middle aged people. Why don’t more women turn up on our rides? Where are the barriers?

The Bicycle Adventure Club has grown so much since we started out just over a year ago. In all honesty I just wanted to indulge my passion and get some mates to go on Bicycle Adventures with, in a safe environment, and we have certainly done that, but I have learnt so much more.  

I am aware that the Bicycle Adventure Club has a wider responsibility, that people might look to us for guidance. As we get bigger and more visible we need to be sure we aren’t just rotely repeating traditional narratives.

To make that happen I think our event pictures need to start to look very different. I’m not sure where to even start with it all, it is a massive subject. I do know that there are amazing people in the Bicycle Adventure Club, we are all on the same page with the same core values and we are crying out to be more inclusive and better allies but we aren’t sure how or where to start so let’s learn together.

The best I can do for now is be more mindful, educate myself and start the conversation. I am open to all suggestions, ideas and collaborations. If you have any resources you wish to share please comment below or pop them on our twitter of facebook page. When we have gathered enough I’ll make a resource page on the website to direct people to.

Here are some resources, groups and people I have been looking to for inspiration:

https://wtfbikexplorers.com/cycling-industry-pledge

http://velocitygirl.co.uk/

https://www.instagram.com/ladyvelo/

BRITISH CYCLING BACKS DIVERSITY IN CYCLING REPORT

https://twitter.com/emilychappell

https://www.instagram.com/ayesuppose/

https://www.instagram.com/muneera_pilgrim/

https://gearsforqueers.co.uk/

PODCASTS

Simply Equality Podcast

Look Mum No Hands and the brilliant Wheel Suckerz Podcast

Please: if you have any more, let’s build this list!

3 thoughts on “Diversity in the Bicycle Adventure Club

  1. riderinthedark 22nd Mar 2021 — 2:59 pm

    A few thoughts on why some women may not cycle:

    1) Time
    I think quite a lot of women are out of time and mental/physical energy. If you look at the ‘impact of Covid’ surveys run this year they give a picture of ‘modern family’ expectations of how women should use up their time. I suspect it is not likely to be much different in non Covid times, it just goes unnoticed. Surveys are just looking harder at the moment than is usually done. Family/Home care remains in UK society a larger burden for women than men. Family men still have a lot more free time than family women have. It is also possible that women are more physically active in day to day tasks than many men are (house care, child care), so are just worn out.

    2) Women end up with rubbish bikes / Fear and disapproval of the mechanical
    Many women are not prepared to self investigate bicycle options (for many reasons inc time factors). I have a friend who is a keen recreational cyclist – takes organised biking holidays all over the world, lots of self directed in the UK. Her bike was badly damaged by an accident and needed to be replaced. Sadly she just told her local bike shop to “order in a comparable one” to replace it and just went and collected the replacement. Now the bike shop was possibly also at fault here, but on the other hand the customer is always right. End result was she really reduced the cycling she did in the UK as she said “This bike is so much heavier than my other one was, I really don’t like riding it, the other one was much better in so many ways.” A bit of reading and an internet search or two and she could have got a bike better than her last one.

    As a middle aged woman, I have also found there is a lot of peer pressure from other women, who disapprove of women showing much interest in mechanical things, with statements similar to “Can’t your husband fix it instead of you?” Which is always galling to hear as it dismisses my hobbies and interests and implies I am bad at ‘being a proper woman’.

    I also think for many reasons/pressures women spend less on a decent bike, so end up with heavy, poorly spec’d bikes. It seems more socially acceptable for men to spend on a good bike.

    3) Yet another place we are supposed to look pretty
    I used to read a lot of bike magazines and forums a few years back. At some point a woman or women tried starting a new clothing company that was bike related. I was really pleased as I thought ‘better fit, more choices, more sizes’. When the push pieces started rolling out for the company the advertising lines were themed by the company owners along the lines of ‘At last, women can look pretty and sexy while riding bicycles’. I remember my sense of huge disappointment that women of all people were pushing for cycling to become yet another place of ‘women should aspire to be pretty and sexy and very feminine at all times’. I am glad I was already a cyclist when this theme emerged as I would have found the search for girly perfection while trying to do something energetic and physical very off putting. I have been out of cycling for a few years due to injury, so I don’t know if this ‘should be pretty and girly’ theme died the death, I certainly hope so.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comments and thoughts. I’m afraid there is still a long way to go to make cycling and the cycling industry truely representative. Patriarchy is deeply ingrained.

      Like

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