Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” We at CASS (avid bikers ourselves) agree!
Yet as empowering as biking can be, we’ve learned from reader’s stories that women in DC still face public sexual harassment while biking. Just over the past year or so, readers have shared stories with us about being forced to change their bike routes to avoid sexual harassment, experiencing transphobia and homophobia while biking, fearing sexual assaults along local bike trails, being stalking by cars, experiencing dangerous harassment from strangers, and being sexual assaulted by other bikers. The problem is systemic and has huge consequences on women’s mobility and public health, argues Soraya Chemaly. According to a study by Stop Street Harassment, 24 percent of women refrain from exercising outdoors in order to avoid public sexual harassment and assault.
At the same time, exercise such as biking can often help survivors of sexual violence regain a sense of empowerment and agency around their bodies. Writes Zerlina Maxwell, “In addition to helping survivors cope, exercise is a way to release the feelings of anger and rage that can also be common after sexual assault.”
CASS is all about empowerment when it comes to work to protect survivors and prevent public sexual harassment. That’s why on Saturday, October 19, DC women will take to the streets for the 19th Amendment Alleycat, an empowering bike scavenger-hunt-like race centering around events, locations and the important ladies of women’s history! The 19th Amendment Alleycat, which benefits CASS, will emphasize women feeling comfortable and confident on the DC streets, especially when faced with street harassment!
In preparation for the 19th Amendment Alleycat, we want to hear how biking helps empower you!
Tweet to @SafeSpacesDC (feel free to attach a pic w/ your bike):
“Biking makes me feel empowered bc [fill in the blank]!
You can also share your biking stories with us! Let us know if you’ve ever experienced street harassment while biking. How did you handle it? Has being on a bike ever helped you to escape harassment? Tweet at us (@safespacesDC), Facebook us and email us your biking stories! Longer pieces regarding biking and street harassment in DC can be submitted to our My Streets, Too series!
Registration is $5 & proceeds go to CASS!