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‘Black Girls Do Bike’ Changes The Face Of Cycling In Cleveland

‘Black Girls Do Bike’ Changes The Face Of Cycling In Cleveland

– Promoting biking and walking is certainly about the environment, it’s about, you know,
equity in our communities and it’s about having fun. – [Narrator] We met Jacob
VanSickle of Bike Cleveland and an under construction
trail in the Flats. It’s a connector that will soon be a part of the Cuyahoga Greenway. VanSickle’s been pedaling the idea of a bike-friendly community since 2012. – There are, you know, a good
portion of the population that’s interested in
bicycling but concerned. And their concern is about safety, so. You know, the work that
we do around advocating for infrastructure,
connected infrastructure that will get people where they need to go on a bike safely, it’s important. But the other key piece
of that is educating people that don’t necessarily look like me how to bike safely so
that we can have a great, inclusive movement of people
biking around Cleveland. – [Narrator] But part of
building that inclusive movement and getting riders on
all these new trails, also involves changing the idea of what a cyclist looks like. – I always thought a biker had
to be like Lance Armstrong. A skinny guy that can
just whip through (laughs) just whip, you know, ride
in tandem with everything. That’s what I saw on TV. I always saw that type of person. We defy that stereotype
because even though we don’t look like a stereotypical biker, we can perform just as well. – [Narrator] Lindsey Komora
joined the Cleveland chapter of an organization called
Black Girls Do Bike a couple years ago. Black Girls Do Bike began
in Pittsburgh in 2015 and now has over 80 chapters nationwide. – [Lindsey] Black Girls Do Bike is just a great community of women that just like to do the same thing. We all like to ride on two wheels. – I would ride with various groups here, in the greater Cleveland area,
and I would find me being the only woman of color on the bike rides. If you don’t see people
that look like you, you wonder do you actually fit in. And you wonder, is this for me? – [Narrator] Deltrece is the Shero, or head of the Akron Chapter
of Black Girls Do Bike. She found the organization a few years ago through an internet search. – If you can get that
support from other women then you just be like,
okay, yes, I can do this. – The community of women
here in the Cleveland area, we depend on each other, like, when we’re out riding our
bike I get a text message, Hey Diana, I’m riding my bike. I’ll call you if I need something. Or, I have a flat, can you come help me? There’s always that sense of security. You always gonna have somebody
who’s gonna take care of you and I think by establishing
that from the beginning for anybody who’s comin’
in to Black Girls Do Bike, they’re like, wow. Where did these ladies come from? I was just out one day,
just got this helmet and I had a pink jacket on and as I’m stopped at a
stop sign this little girl looks out the window
and just starts waving. And at that point I knew
that by me wearing pink or wearing a pink helmet or just being visible as a
woman within the community, it would encourage more
women to ride bikes. – [Narrator] Diana Hildebrand,
who goes by DevahD, is the Shero of the Cleveland Chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. She says it’s about
support, but it’s also about trying to be a visible part of a community that they’ve often felt shut out of. – The one thing that I notice that we face because I talk to a lot of women of color, especially when we’re
riding our bikes together, that they feel like they’re
not visible in the community and that we have no voice. The cycling community is
predominately Caucasian men and then it goes to the
women, and all the way down on the totem pole you got the men of color and women of color at the very bottom. Normally, how society sees us, you know. The ultimate goal of Black Girls Do Bike is to actually change
the culture of cycling. It would never be a question
of what are we doing out here because we are here. – [Photographer] Give
like a big ol’ smile. – [Narrator] And members
of Black Girls Do Bike were out in full force at a
Juneteenth edition of Slow Roll, a large recurring group bike ride. But Hildebrand was also there
as a volunteer on the Squad, the team in charge of safety. The ride attracted a mix
of ages, races, and genders from throughout the city. All departing from Shaker Square and making stops at African
American cultural landmarks in the Buckeye Shaker neighborhood. At one point, things got
tense when some of the younger African American riders in the group started popping wheelies,
which Squad members considered a safety concern for the group. – [Woman] Be careful! Two wheels on the ground, please! – It was comments of, can you not wheelie, can you put the wheel
down, do you not mind, we’re looking for the safety
of all the other people. And somebody got called a jerk. And once somebody got
called a jerk, I said, Hey, don’t be disrespectful,
don’t be rude. I said, you in my neighborhood, you’re a guest in Shaker Heights today. And we ride up and down
this street all the time, so the last thing I’mma
do is not say something when young people have come
to ride, you know, with me. – [Narrator] Shaker
Heights artist Donald Black frequently rides with
kids in his neighborhood. He says the tricks they do are inspired by dirt bike riders they see on the street. (engine revving) – And then they asked me to leave and I just thought it was gonna be funny because I knew I was
gonna get the microphone at the end of the ride. – [Narrator] Organizers
of Slow Roll had asked Black to come on the ride and
discuss a mural he painted at the Harvey Rice Branch of
the Cleveland Public Library, the last stop on the Juneteeth ride. – And so they actually
had him come and speak to the Slow Roll riders. Now, in doing this speech, he
did discuss some of the things that were happening within the Slow Roll and he discussed how he
felt like the young men that were participating in
Slow Roll were being harassed. – The goal is not for us not to come. The goal is for us to be able to ride. We gonna find our own space. It ain’t nothing nobody
out here can do about it. I heard diversity and inclusion
with Metro talkin’ like, come on, so we might
need y’all to be patient but the reality is you’re
not gonna bully us, you’re not gonna pick on us, you’re not gonna disrespect these kids. – I am a part of Slow Roll plus, you know, I’m a African
American woman, you know. And it was an organization where we wanna keep everybody safe but
then at the same time, I understand where he comin’ from because if we’re really try to build the gap or bridge the gap between all cyclists within the community
we’re gonna have to be understanding of the
different type of cyclists that gonna be comin’ around us. – [Narrator] When Hildebrand
spoke to Black that night, one thing he said really stuck with her. – We might be able to do
something but you gotta remember that my face is different than your face. It is. I’m sayin’, I’m sayin’–
– [Diana] I get it, I get it. – I’m sayin’ the alarm
and the triggered alert. – I kept thinkin’ about
this on my way home is that I am, my face is more familiar and that I don’t feel, a lot
of people don’t feel like they have to put they
guard up when I’m around. And I’m tryin’ to use the
platform that I have right now to bridge the gap to
bring the urban cyclists, the ones who don’t know
about all the safeties that come along with cycling these days and all the bike laws that
have been established for us. And I’m trying to like
bridge the gap to bring the elite cyclists with us and say, Hey, we don’t always
have to follow this rule but we can bend it a little bit. We can make it a little bit more flexible. I really, truly believe
that the cycling community and the cycling culture can
change and it will change. (bike wheels clicking)

1 comment on “‘Black Girls Do Bike’ Changes The Face Of Cycling In Cleveland

  1. Very inspiring!! Me and my wife just got off the phone talking about cycling! AND WE HAVE BEEN CONSIDERING MOVING TO CLEVELAND ALSO!!!! Maybe someone from Cleveland and plug me in more😍😍😍😍😍

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