Friday, February 28, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Neighborhood Bike Works has Bike Church, it is a time when adults can come in and use the tools available to make repairs on their bikes. These open shops are staffed by volunteers who provide guidance to anyone who wants to learn how to make a specific repair. In 2004 NBW designated Wednesday nights for women and the transgendered to create a safe environment to where they can learn bike repair and not have to worry about dodging unintentionally offensive interruptions from other people.
I was somewhat appalled and confused by the recent appeal for volunteers from Carol Borek, Outreach Coordinator for Neighborhood Bike Works. For NBW's open shop night on Wednesday for women and the transgendered, because of the criteria. The criteria for volunteers is you must be a woman or transgendered.
As someone who uses Bike Church I won't deny that their have been occasional questionable behavior on the part of a few attendees. But more often what I have seen is several gifted male volunteers patiently guide inexperienced men and women through a bicycle repair and help them master that particular skill. To imply that male volunteers cannot assist on Wednesday night because of their gender, sexual orientation or the potential for transphobia and misogynistic behavior is insulting. How hard would it be to ask select volunteers to help on Wednesday night? Who would best meet the needs of Neighborhood Bike Works, the attendees and their individual concerns, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
If Neighborhood Bike Works wants to create a safe environment that is free of misogyny and transphobia. Then Carol Borek needs to intentionally uphold values of nondiscrimination when it comes to volunteers for Wednesday night. Not just the ones who fit a specific gender, sexual orientation, or agenda.
* I mean trans to include all gender identities beyond cisgender, i.e. transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, genderfluid, and so on.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
In a recent column by local author Lisa Scottoline wrote about her new bicycle gifted to her on Christmas by a good friend. Since it has been 40 years since Ms. Scottoline a lot had changed including the number of gears on a bike as the last bike she owned was a three speed.
I can understand how she feels six years ago I replaced my fifteen year old 10 speed mountain bike. The bike I eventually bought, a 21 speed hybrid bike, was something of an adjustment. 21 speeds, quick release rims and seat, with a flat bar. It was quite the change in technology. It sounds like Ms. Scottoline is riding a similar bike.
In her article she talks about how the flat bars are a change from cruiser bars and how she can't figure out how to adjust the seat and handle bar height which makes riding the bike rather uncomfortable. My advice to her is either go to the bike shop it was bought at or a local bike shop and have them fit the seat height and handle bar height. They can also provide you with better options for saddles designed for women and may be able to change the handle bars to something you may be more comfortable with.
A common mistake for many new cyclists is being to nervous to admit that they are not sure how to do a basic adjustment on their bike, so riding it becomes uncomfortable. Which eventually leads to the bike gathering dust in a basement or garage. Your local bike shop is always willing to help you make basic adjustments to handlebar and seat heights. If your bike has a quick release front wheel have them teach you how to take it on and off. This will help you be able to transport your bike in a car when you don't have a rack.
A new bike does not have to be a scary piece if technology, take the time to have your local bike shop teach you how to use your bike and enjoy the ride.