On Saturday 18 August, Open Streets hosted #WomenOnBikes, a multi-activity day aimed at highlighting challenges faced by women in cycling. Hosted in partnership with Pedal Power Association, Bicycling Empowerment Network, TSiBA Education and Bicycle South, the event was conceived to celebrate women on bikes, but also to educate and encourage a more conducive environment for women to cycle in the city. The day also helped to challenge some of the stereotypes about women in relation to bicycles.
The event included a facilitated dialogue with women in cycling, a basic maintenance session, road safety session and a relaxed group ride.
Five inspiring speakers shared their personal experiences of cycling, challenges, opportunities and their thoughts on how women can be encouraged and supported to start cycling in the city.
Ncedisa Nkonyeni, systems thinker and bicycle lover, shared her first bicycle experience and the challenges she faces as black woman cyclist. She also focused on how cycling can change how you perceive yourself, and can build you into a stronger person.
Tebello Lehoko, Bike2Train participant and bicycle commuter. After taking part on the Open Streets #Bike2Train challenge, Tebello is now a novice rider, cycling from home to school. Tebello described how she had to deal with negative attitudes from the community, but how that she has never discouraged her from cycling. She proudly shared that most people in her community have changed their attitudes towards cycling, and are now interested in joining her on her ride.
Kirsten Wilkins, urban designer and bicycle advocate, shared a profound story of how women need to come together and support one another. Kirsten reflected about how a community of support can be built around bicycles and highlighted that it’s okay to ask for help.
Rizqah Nordien, TSiBA Education cycling team mechanic, spoke about her journey in sports cycling, and a near-fatal accident. She was also diagnosed with a rare disease which affected her eye vision and forced her to take a step back from cycling. However, with a cyclist’s courage and fighting spirit, Rizqah is determined to return to the saddle soon.
Tegan Philips, cartoon artist and bicycle adventurer, closed the dialogue session with her humorous cartoons and stories of her cycling adventures from around Europe and Africa.
The day ended on a high note with participants taking part in an organised 12-km round trip ride from Pinelands to iKhaya le Langa, in Langa. The fun social ride aimed to showcase the how easy it was to cycle between the two areas. New riders also experienced riding in a group.
Building on this discussion and the positive outcome of the event, we are eager to work together with others to support and promote women cycling in Cape Town.