The name, Black Girls Do Bike, works like a rebuttal. It starts with two prevailing assumptions: Men ride bicycles more than women; and people of color, Black people in particular, don’t really ride bikes. And then it articulates a reply in action, not words: Women, Black women and women in general, will gather to bike.
The momentum created from that action has been tremendous. It began in early 2013 with the launch of BGDB, as it is known, in Pittsburgh. Monica Garrison founded it with a simple goal: Get Black women on bicycles. Or, as its mission states, the nonprofit champions efforts “to introduce the joy of cycling to all women, but especially, women and girls of color.” BGDB does this by establishing comfort zones—places where, “lady cyclists can support, advise, organize rides and promote skill-sharing.”
Create these safe-space opportunities, the thinking goes, and you can usher new riders past entry barriers, and help demystify what often seems like a gear-laden pursuit. The result is a net gain for the larger cycling community. And the numbers prove it. Since its inception nine years ago, BGDB has grown to more than 100 chapters in 38 states, plus Antigua and England—not to mention a substantial social-media following with well over 80,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Through that growth, the organization has provided encouragement and support for thousands of women to access the myriad joys available through cycling.