Why I Organize Girls Only Rides

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Thanks to the Cupcake Rides I’ve met so many awesome women who’s main mode of transportation is a bicycle.

Before I organized these rides and met all these amazing lady bikers, however, I only knew a handful of women who biked in the city. And within my close circle of friends in Toronto, I’m still the only girl who bikes regularly in the city.

When I show up to meet my friends somewhere with my helmet dangling from my arm I am met with comments like, ‘I can’t believe you bike in the city. I’m too scared.’ or ‘No way, drivers in Toronto are too crazy. I don’t know how you do it.’

Sadly, these sentiments aren’t exclusive to my group of friends and they probably represent the main the reason why so many women don’t bike in Toronto and North America.

Statistics show that in Toronto roughly only a third (and only about a quarter in North America) of cyclists are women.

Taken from the City of Toronto 2010 Bicycle Count

This cyclist gender disparity is the reason why I started the Toronto Girls’ Cupcake Ride.

I should really create a FAQ page, but in the meantime hopefully these points shed some understanding on why my rides are for women only.

Why are the Cupcake Rides segregated?

  • To encourage more female cyclists to bike in the city.
  • aka to take some Affirmative Action.
  • To create a special ride just for women, much like there are sporting events just for certain groups of people (a person from Europe can’t compete in the PanAm games, and American athlete can’t compete in the Commonwealth Games).
  • To create a ride that is non-competitive and welcoming.
  • To create a ride that allows first time or newbie cyclists to feel comfortable riding on city streets while being sandwiched by more experienced riders.
  • To build female camaraderie within a bike culture that can sometimes have a chauvinistic side

So those are great reasons, but why do we need to encourage more female cyclists to ride anyway?

  • Our roads are clogged with pollution emitting vehicles and our public transit is bursting at the seams, by getting more people to bike we can alleviate the pressures on traffic and public transit ridership plus help to reduce pollution.
  • Strength in numbers! More cyclists on the roads can help create safer bike trips because drivers become more careful.
  • Strength in numbers! More cyclists can strengthen our voice at City Hall.
  • Modest increases in bike ridership could yield major economic, health benefits
  • If you love riding your bike, why wouldn’t you want other people to enjoy this wonderful activity?

I’m sure over time while I mull this over I’ll have more to add.

These are my reasons for creating a women’s only ride, which I wanted to share to counter some of the, at times nasty, comments that I receive from *ahem* guys who feel left out.

And to be frank, I volunteer my free time to organize these rides. As such, I should be able to organize them in anyway I want.

25 thoughts on “Why I Organize Girls Only Rides

  1. Helen

    These rides sound awesome and I totally agree with your motivations!

    I was once too afraid to ride on the streets and you’re right that many of my female friends still feel that way. With the combination of support from an avid cyclist boyfriend and a need to trim my budget, I started to ride to work last summer. After the first week of anxiety-ridden attempts on different routes, I started building my riding confidence and now it’s my favourite way to commute! I think many others like me just need to get over that initial fear and riding with more experienced riders is a great way to learn by example. And with the promise of sweet treats, I think your cupcake rides are the perfect thing to entice anxious would-be riders out!

    (Side note: Unfortunately, I found out too late about your rides last year and since then, cupcakes have sadly become a no-no for me as I’ve been trying to avoid dairy and gluten. Though I still love them…*sniff* I’m wondering, do the cupcake shops offer vegan, gluten-free alternatives?)

    Thanks for volunteering your time and effort to offer these great rides!
    H :)

    Reply
    1. happy d Post author

      Helen!! Thanks for the encouragement :)

      If you are looking for vegan, gluten free baked goods you MUST check out Bunner’s Bake Shop in the Junction. I love them so much, I might make the bakery a stop for a future ride again!

      http://www.bunners.ca/shop/

      AND the owners Ashley and Kevin are the NICEST ever.

      Reply
      1. Helen

        Awesome! Bunner’s looks amazing and they do soy-free options too! Wow, and I thought my cupcake days were gone…not so after all! :)

        Keep up the great work, Hyedie! I hope to be able to join one of your rides soon!

        H :)

        Reply
  2. todd

    Excluding people because of their gender, colour, race is not acceptable in our society. If this was a ‘whites only’ ride, how would you feel about it?

    Reply
    1. Kat

      Troll. Move on everyone. Don’t feed into it.

      Congrats ladies I love the idea and as a regular cyclist in the city I look forward to seeing you all out there!

      Reply
      1. happy d Post author

        Thanks Kat – I was about to feed into it by posting links to male privilege and more examples of minority groups/events/awards that celebrate different groups of society.

        See you out on your bike! Hopefully you can join us on a ride soon!

        Reply
  3. Julie

    I agree- I bike almost every day in a crazy city, but I would still not want to organize a men & womens ride. It’s mostly because I don’t seek social situations with guys. I much prefer to nourish my relationships with females and those who identify as females :)

    Reply
    1. happy d Post author

      Glad you think so too :)

      I love that you are organizing a picnic to try to encourage more female cyclists to ride in NYC!

      Reply
  4. Heather

    Cupcakes aside, the main reason I decided to check out the rides last year was *because* they were girls only – I was tired of biking solo, and was looking for girls to ride with because none of my friends did. Hyedie, you should be so proud of the wonderful group you have created. The rides are an opportunity to get outside and meet new bike-minded friends in a non-intimidating, non-competitive, FUN atmosphere. Thank you for volunteering your time to organize the rides and encourage women to saddle up in the city!

    Reply
    1. happy d Post author

      Oh I’m so glad to hear that Heather :)

      It’s been fun riding with you (even if it meant seeing you later on, on the rides!) haha

      Thank YOU for coming out and joining the group. Thank you also for your kind words <3

      Reply
  5. Maegan

    I’m so glad you started the cupcake ride! It’s so much fun, and I think a big reason why lots of the girls come out is because it’s girls only. We know it will be a safe/fun place to ride. Without these rides I’d be hard pressed to find any girls that ride for fun.

    If guys want to go on rides, no one is stopping them from organizing their own group rides!

    Reply
    1. happy d Post author

      Hear! Hear! The nay-sayers should go and start their own rides!!

      Can’t wait to see you on the 26th! It’s going to be a long but fun ride!

      Reply
  6. rchow7

    I did at one point think about organizing a Men’s Poutine Bike Ride… a male version of your cupcake ride. But very few people embraced the idea of eating so much poutine in one day. Those that did, were not the sort that would go biking. One day… I will make this happen.

    Reply
    1. Nadia

      Girls, cupcakes and men, poutine? How about girls buy pink bikes and guys buy blue? Yes, let’s keep reinforcing those gender stereotypes. It will bring us all much closer together!

      Reply
    2. happy d Post author

      That’s so funny you mention that.

      Joe (bikingtoronto.com) and I were planning on making the last Sweet Ride (the everybody welcome one) to be a POUTINE ride!!

      So if you want to help us organize that one, let me know :)

      Reply
      1. Lindsay

        How about a cheese ride? Because this sounds pretty cheesy to me.

        “Hey gurlfriends, let’s go for a bike ride and then we can stop and eat some cupcakes together in the pretty park. It will be sooo much gurly fun and we can bond!”

        Please. You’re embarrassing yourself. You will have to look back on this one day when you are all grown up. Think about it.

        Reply
        1. aem2

          Okay, so eating cupcakes and riding a bike with a bunch of women isn’t your thing. So be it. There’s no need to be snide about it. You don’t want to have “gurly fun” every now and again? That’s fine. We want to have a nice leisurely bike ride with a bunch of interesting women. I *am* all grown up, and therefore I enjoy things unironically.

          By the way, feminism is about embracing *all* things that women enjoy, not belittling each other for perceived gender infractions.

          Reply
  7. Lindsay

    How about a cheese ride? Because this sounds pretty cheesy to me.

    “Hey gurlfriends, let’s go for a bike ride and then we can stop and eat some cupcakes together in the pretty park. It will be sooo much gurly fun and we can bond!”

    Please. You’re embarrassing yourself. You will have to look back on this one day when you are all grown up. Think about it.

    Reply
  8. Cori

    I’m part of the DIY bike culture here in Toronto where we really strive to remove all gender issues and be all-inclusive.. I have no problem hanging out & riding with guys. At the same time, there is something very special about these rides that I truly enjoy! Perhaps it’s the more relaxed pace, or that it takes me to new parts of the City that I haven’t been to. Regardless, for being someone who is a pretty ‘all-inclusive’ person, I totally support what you have done! I also think it’s great you have branched out to include more ‘Sweet Rides’. For every one person expressing negativity I’m sure there are another 10 in support. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  9. Emily

    Ouch! I didn’t realize people could get so snarky about cupcakes!! I’d join a poutine ride (or a cheese ride), except that my belly doesn’t enjoy the company of dairy so much (my mouth over-rides that frequently). I had no idea about the demographic of bikers in the city, that’s interesting.

    Keep up the great work, and I’d love to come out one day!

    Reply
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