By WEN Board Member, Ruby Tumber
In the 12 or so years that I have been an East Bay resident, I have biked around the streets and trails of the area for a variety of reasons, whether it is exercise, leisure, or transportation. My bike (or some iteration of my bike, as I’ve lost a few – looking at you Ashby Bart Station) has been a useful tool in providing access in a way that is free from the constraints of public transportation, or from the burden of driving my own vehicle (and I say burden because I have sadly gotten more parking tickets than I care to count). And though I’ve done rides that were longer, or more strenuous, I haven’t done one that felt – for lack of a better word – as badass as the one WEN co-hosted with the Women’s Alliance for Climate Justice (WACJ).
On Saturday August 25th, I embarked on a 14 mile round trip bike trek along the San Francisco Bay Trail with 13 other ladies. Lead by our knowledgeable tour guide, Sandra Hamlat of WACJ, the ladies and I had the opportunity to cruise the coastline and learn about a multitude of climate justice and coastal resilience projects in development in and around the area. We stopped at the intersection of Gilman Street and Frontage Road to talk about the planned two-way protected bike lane, pedestrian over-crossing, roundabout, and completion of the Bay Trail near McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. We also saw the Albany Beach restoration project and talked about the role of natural infrastructure in providing coastal resilience. We then rode to the Craneway Pavilion and discussed the social justice history of the Dotson Family Marsh and how it has been created to account for sea level rise and habitat migration. Though we all had different abilities and experiences when it came to biking, a comfortable pace and forgiving weather kept us in good spirits during the ride. We ended the trip at the Rosie the Riveter Museum and had lunch at Assemble, a lovely converted shipyard building. If you haven’t been to either, it’s worth the trip.
For me, the noteworthy aspect of the trip wasn’t just the sense of accomplishment I felt over getting out of bed early and getting my pedal on, but the fact that it was the first time I had ever done a bike ride exclusively with a bunch of women. The fact that I describe my experience as ‘badass’ feels like a testament to this act. I also think it’s a significant combination, women and biking, because of the ties bicycling has to the early feminist movement. Biking allotted our foremothers significant mobility and independence after all, and the bicycle was seen as a literal and figurative vehicle in the fight for suffrage. It’s a history that I couldn’t help but recall.
Overall, I got the feeling that my fellow riders were thankful for the space to not only learn about environmental projects, but do so in an active way. Multiple ladies told me that though they enjoy biking, they rarely get the opportunity because of anxieties over Bay Area roads. Riding in a group assuaged those fears.
Maybe there are more rides to come?
I want to give extra thanks to the ladies at WACJ, especially Sandra and Kelly Malinowski, for helping organize this co-sponsored event.
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