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August 15, 2012 Potential Project Funder Washington Area Bicyclist Association WomenBike: Peer-to-Peer Empowerment

The Problem Bicycling is growing exponentially in the Washington DC region, but that growth masks a remarkable disparity in ridership along gender lines. (Only 24% of commuter cyclists in the region are women.) In this application, we detail a proposal to use targeted peer-to-peer programming among a network of engaged, interested women to grow cycling among women of all types throughout the region. It is often said in cycling circles that women are an “indicator species” of the overall safety and viability of cycling as a means of transportation in a given area. Unfortunately, this focus on “indicating” often distracts from the importance of bicycling to women’s health and sense of personal empowerment and achievement, their role in promoting the growth of cycling as a whole, and the benefits of gender inclusivity in transportation to society at large. The Solution Women are not just indicators of external phenomena. Our WomenBike: Peer-to-Peer Empowerment Program (“WomenBike”) is designed to target women for an extensive peer-to-peer network of information-sharing, education, outreach, advocacy, mentoring, and communication to bring to them the benefits of bicycling. In doing so, these benefits extend beyond those who are reached directly through the program and to the cycling community as a whole and the region, through the often-stated impacts of bicycling on environmental sustainability, public health, community improvement, and affordable mobility. The key components of this project were developed through a pilot project, undertaken in 2011-2012 and culminating in the nation’s first and nationally-replicated Women’s Cycling Forum, to create a peerto-peer network of women whose cycling experience ranged from nonexistent to expert. Now, we seek support to organize, expand, and activate this network to grow bicycling among women in the Washington area. Specifically, WomenBike will use natural peer-to-peer networks, cultivated through existing connections with individuals and communities of interest, to empower individuals to share information specifically designed to overcome traditional barriers to bicycling, which more acutely affect women and, in the aggregate, lead to the depressed rate of cycling among women when compared to men.  Cultivate Active Networks: Collaborative outreach is effective outreach. To connect with women beyond WABA’s reach, our program will identify and invite local organizations and individuals to be spokeswomen of WomenBike by helping promote and host our social events.

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Provide Networking Tools and Procedural Mechanisms for Information Sharing: Using the Tupperware Party model of the past, we will enable these spokeswomen to host their networks for small, living room potlucks, bike-fittings at local bike shops, neighborhood group rides, bike maintenance classes, and happy hours. The host model is ideal for bringing together women who already bike, with women who are intrigued by the idea of bicycling to share information and personal experiences in comfortable and safe spaces. Provide Substantive Information Targeted to Overcome Barriers to Bicycling: At these events we will disseminate wide-ranging, accessible materials on bicycling that address concerns women more commonly share. These materials will cover general bicycling and women-specific topics like “Finding an affordable women’s bike that fits”, “Mythbusting urban bicycling”, Womanfriendly gear”, “Bicycling with your children”, etc... Additionally, to make this information even more accessible and easier to disseminate, we will develop a bike commuter film series. Provide Coordination and Mentoring: These social events will be arranged, attended, and facilitated by the WomenBike program coordinator, who will serve as a credible and continuous resource to women in their pursuit of bicycling. Create a Common Brand, to Build Network Cohesiveness and Empowerment through Numbers: We will develop a distinctive logo and design to market our program. Develop Opportunities for Network-Wide Sharing and Celebration: We will share and celebrate the experiences surrounding WomenBike. Through the duration of the program we will post an e-bulletin board to our website so that participants can share updates, post questions, and meet others, as well as publish bicycling success stories on our blog, and consolidate these personal stories in a “How I became a bicyclist” manual . To celebrate the growth and success of WomenBike we will coordinate a region-wide, “Women’s Bike from Work Day” celebration following Bike to Work Day, the biggest and most widely cherished bike event in the DC metropolitan region.

The Results This program will get more women on bikes. But more importantly, it will activate a large network—far larger than any single group or program—and provide the tools to get people on bikes, overcome their barriers to active transportation, and open the gateway to the larger, community benefits of increased bicycling in the region. The results will range from the individual to the societal. Individual benefits that stem from increased physical activity are too numerous to list in their entirety here. But the benefits to a woman who engages in daily athletic activity, of which bicycling is one, have very specific and quantifiable benefits. For example, since a woman who is involved in athletic activity is proven to be less likely to enter into or stay in an abusive relationship, we believe that this will decrease the numbers of women in abusive relationships. Bicycling will improve a woman’s mental and physical strength and her ability to move more freely throughout the community, even when lacking a driver’s license, car or metro fare and therefore will decrease her dependence on abusive partners.

Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are reaching nearly epidemic proportions throughout the country. We know that daily exercise in the form of bicycling can improve an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and even economic health, by combating these diseases and all of their associated costs. Yet in the DC region, only 24% of regular cyclists are women. Regular bicycling will assist in sustained weight loss and improve a woman’s physical strength, thereby improving her physical health and body image. It engenders improved athletic ability and physicality, improves coordination and muscle reflexes. Bicycling can improve a woman’s access to work and social services, thereby improving her financial status and get her where she’s going more quickly than public transportation or walking. When women ride bicycles more freely, we also will see improvements to society as a whole. Not just in improved air quality but in the routine normalcy of having more bicyclists on the streets. By making women bicyclists an expected, anticipated, and accepted road user we will improve traffic safety for all. Independently verified data already exists showing the benefits to public health, economic health, community, self-esteem, and environmental sustainability that stem from biking. This program’s goal is to engage more individuals to receive the individual benefits, and engage more women, en masse, in securing the community benefits for the Washington region. Therefore, our focus will remain on measurable increases in the number of women cycling and in the ratio of women bicyclists to total bicyclists. Evaluation This program is, at its core, about empowerment and community-building among women, across ages and classes, around bicycling and its benefits. Everyone who does not bicycle has one or more personal barriers preventing her from doing so. This program should be measured by the strength of the network it creates, the quality of the connection and content it provides, and, ultimately, the number of women it gets onto bicycles by overcoming their physical, psychological, and social barriers that currently limit their willingness and ability to ride. The final metric of value, given sufficient time, is the number of female bicyclists in the region. As mentioned previously, only 24% of regular bicyclists today are women. The ultimate goal is to see the raw number of female cyclists increase dramatically and more appropriately reflect the percentage of women in the overall population. Intermediate metrics, more directly attributable to this program, include such quantifiable indicators as:      Number of cyclists reached through networks; Number of in-person meet-ups held; Number of social media interactions within network; Number of trainings produced and conducted on overcoming specific barriers to cycling; Number of participants in programmatic branding activities and network-wide celebration;

Number of women engaged in other forms of cycling interaction (e.g. safe cycling classes, group rides, advocacy group membership, repair clinics, bike co-ops, Bike to Work Day participation, etc.)

Conclusion There is no reason that the current gender disparity in bicycling should be allowed to continue, when a timely and focused intervention can change course for the region. We have already initiated a Women on Bikes program that has become a national model, copied by the Alliance for Biking and Walking at the 2012 National Bike Summit. That program led the way in building an engaged network of cyclists discussing these issues, and numerous collaborative smaller networks already exist. In addition, we are fortunate to have the program designer of the original Women on Bikes program and a panelist from the inaugural national Women’s Cycling Forum engaged in this project and willing to provide insight and staff support, as well as the support of her own extensive network of female cyclists in the region. Nelle Pierson, currently WABA’s Events Coordinator, has quickly become a prominent and passionate voice in both the local and national conversation on women in the bicycling transportation movement. Her heartfelt connection to bicycling is an outcome of the very benefits summarized in this program, and her dedication and experience will ensure the success of this program. We have the opportunity to improve this region by enhancing its equity and empowering women in ways that help them individually and bring accrued benefit to society at large. We have the right person willing and able to commit the time and energy to making this a success, and we have made a strong start with an unfunded program that has now been replicated at the national level. But we seek financial to continue to build on a successful start in the region. 24% is simply not good enough, and we have the power to do better.

WomenBike: A Peer to Peer Empowerment Project Project Revenue Year 1 Total Committed or Projected 50000 50000 Projected 0 0 0 0 20000 20000 Committed 0 0 70000 70000

Grant Funding Needed Foundations Public agencies Corporations Individuals Grantee contribution Earned Income Other TOTALS

Project Expenses Year 1 Salaries Employee Benefits Other Labor Costs Internships Stipends Other Consultants Conferences/Meetings Facility Cost Refreshments Honoraria Other item(s) Travel Communications Printing/publications Postage Telephone Website Advertising/publicity Supplies 250 250 1000 3000 7500 1250

Totals

37500 37500 13125 13125 0 0 0 0 0 1250 25 Bike meet ups 0 0 0 0 1000 3000 7500 0 250 250 0 0

Office Supplies Subscriptions Other item(s)Translation services Legal Rent and Utilities Equipment Purchases Equipment Maintenance Indirect Other TOTALS

1000

1000 0 0 0

4000 1000

4000 1000 0 0 0

69875 69875

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