Greeting from Brown Bike Girl HQ in Brooklyn!
Around the country many of us Northerners are experiencing 50-plus degree days that make us hopeful for the quick approach of spring. And after a bitterly cold winter spent binging on Netflix series where vibrant brown characters like Spike Lee’s Nola Darling and Mars Blackmon live their best lives on bicycle, who can blame you for deciding to make two wheels a definitive part of your warm weather plans?
While I must admit that I am not a proponent of doing something just because you saw it on tv/the internet, I’m happy to co-sign anyone’s new found passion in cycling as long as they are willing to branch out to make the lifestyle their own — Besides the possibility of only riding a junker to the farmer’s market or within a mile of home to post renegade posters in the back alleys like Nola and Mars, you might find yourself curious about riding laps or long distances in scenic parks for fitness or adventure. Or perhaps you’ll stumble on the value of daily cycling for more simple, relaxed, and more economical commute. (Because why pay money to be smooshed up against other people during your collectively most anti-social hours of the day?)
If getting setup to select your first adult bike, learning to ride, wrench, or just falling in with a good group fellow people of color (PoC) cyclist who are interested in making cycling more welcoming and accessible to people who look like you interests you, please check out m list below of some of my fav community-driven and heritage-celebrating bike shops, safe spaces, and bike crews from around the country. Starting with the center of the universe 😊 … Brooklyn NY:
- First off, you can roll with me The Brown Bike Girl (IG @TheBrownBikeGirl). I am a bicycle advocacy consultant that helps larger community organization and local government making more effective and equitable strides toward helping communities of color access cycling. But when I’m not working a contract to coordinate a bike tour or throwing a party that introduces young brown kids to the reality that they can be cycling champion, I am committed to producing free community rides that center around themes of safety, equity, and visibility.
By following, you can learn about those rides or sign up to my newsletter to volunteer for any of the community events where brown people need to see other brown people like you.
- Specifically looking to link with a crew of queer and trans people of color? Get with the BrooklynBoiHood crew or inquire about the @lydiamazin’s Bikestyle QTPOC bike initiative out of Bicycle Habitat bike shops’ Prospect Heights location. (Which actually has a fairly diverse crew of folk and mechanics compared to most places.)
- I also hear there’s a good amount of brown folk hanging around Roy’s Bicycle Shop in Sheepshead’s Bay, while Kween Kargo (@kweenkargo) in Greenpoint is co-owned by woman-of-color mechanic Camille, who has done boss things such as found and coordinate a cargo bike championship race, but is happy to help you out with your regular bike any time.
- Red, Bike, and Green (@redbikegreen) is a collective of Black urban cyclists seeking to improve the physical & mental health, economy & local environment of African-Americans through intentional organizing and forthright political activism of behalf of brown cyclists. Over time they’ve had chapters in Chicago, Oakland, and Indianapolis.
- In Boston, you can hang out, buy a refurbished bike for the low-low, or get it custom, and learn how to fix them all at Spokehouse – Bowdoin Bike School in Dorchester. Run by super entertaining, tandem-riding , justice-insistent couple Noah and Jovanny, the school will soon be a partnered with a full‐service retail bicycle shop and cafe, all while providing a “teaching kitchen” for Bowdoin Bike School.
- In Chicago there’s a lil’ box – a reclaimed former freight train car with a deck perfect for watching traffic go by – that sits on a lot on the South Side, just under the green line at 51st Known as the Bronzeville Bike Box (@bronzevillebikes), residents of the predominately brown neighborhood can receive free mechanical assistance in fixing their bikes, find (or donate) spare parts, or purchase a bike from the small but always stocked fleet of bikes refurbished perfectly for just getting around town here. Open seasonally, you can hang with with mixed crew of cycling devotees of all abilities and experiences.
- WoC led Leave Fear Behind is a community of women of all ages who pedal in pursuit of health, and support each other’s exploration of the many sports and outdoor avenues to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They ride together. Workout together. And collab with others to support and encourage fair and equal biking opportunities, education and safety in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
- Home of the original Slow Roll – A movement for urban fellowship through extra chill-paced cycling that’s suitable for everyone was founded by two Black men from the area. While being a public and open weekly event that attracts as many as THOUSANDS of people in a single night in the D, Slow Roll plays the role of a safe space for brown people to have mass gatherings where the cops are collaborators – not critics – of the good times being had by all. In Detroit, the co-founder Jason shares that he like to use the rides to showcase his own community and economically invigorate local business in it through exposure along the route.
Slow Roll’s ideology have been embraces by many Chocolate Cities across the country and you can find the movement living in its own iterations in Chicago, New Orleans, Baltimore, Cleveland, and even Buffalo, NY and the budding Twin Cities chapter where long-term friends, families, babies treated me like family last summer!
- Girls on Bikes (IG @GirlsonBikess, yes two “s”) Seriously, what don’t they do? An ambitious handful of early 20-something women of color who are still in college and working their own full time jobs are somehow Wonderwoman-ing running an after school program, leading seasonal rides, and doing whatever workshop possible to destigmatize cycling’s low-income connotations and get young adult women to recognize cycling as an outlet for expression.
Oakland, CA (and the East Bay)
- Hard Knox Bikes is self-defined safe space created specifically for marginalized racial and gender communities to receive quality hands-on mechanical instruction and safety education. They “aim to help usher in more knowledgeable bike riders who ride confidently knowing they can spot and handle minor issues and know when to see a professional.” The crew actually takes it skills to the streets to pop-up and perform bike safety checks at among other places, the Oakland Public libraries.
- What happens when you get few fitness-minded friends together to a ride and it blossoms into a movement for cyclists? You get Pedal Posse Divas (ladies only) out of Philly who want to share passion and joy for cycling with all women. Organized without it all being about the merch, if you are looking for accountability (like indoor trainer sessions during the winter) and taking your cycling to new horizons (a group of the PPDs are training for a triathlon together) you’ve got the right group out of PA!
- Philly Seersucker Vintage Ride & Social is a one-day event each year. But I am such a fan of themed dress up occasion that it made the list! The Philly Seersucker follows the tradition of tweed rides which started in England and are therefore usually organized by and celebrated as extension of Anglo heritage. But the organizers are two homegrown Black Philly natives. So, guess who shows up? A great pace to meet some people who may become your regular crew. Plus all proceeds from registration go to an organization that makes biking accessible to the community.
Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest)
- According to seattlebikeblog.com, Friends on Bikes (FOB) Seattle (@friendsonbikes) founder, SJ (pronoun “they”) was seeking ways to create a respectful community for women/trans/femme/non-binary people of color. The premise, the same as anyone else: come together and have fun on bikes sans drama or belittlement SJ recognized as common obstacle between new riders of color and the bike industry. FOB Seattle is a chapter of the org that started in Portland! And truly to the Pacific Northwest spirit they are a bit more outdoorsy with cycling and offer opportunities to do things like bikecamping!
Alright! So there’s a starter kit.
Did I miss your city? Are there more Latinx and Asian shops and crews to know about? Let me know via Facebook, Twitter, or IG tell me about the non-competitive spaces where the PoC cyclists can hang together and grow in your city.