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Free Bike Fest Encourages Minority Women to Ride Again

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Combining a bike with a bus ride expands transportation options. Karen Rogers, co-founder of Rochester Women’s Bike Festival, with a bike on an RTS bus bike rack. Photo provided by Karen Rogers.

If the expression, “It’s like riding a bike” is true, women who haven’t pedaled since they were kids will be back zipping through their neighborhoods.

The second Rochester Women’s Bike Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 15 at the Adams Street Recreation Center, will show women how they can get back into doing what they enjoyed as a child or convince them to start a new activity for exercise or transportation.

The free event will cover the how-to of fixing a flat, biking to get groceries and biking with children. Women also will be able to test-ride different types of bikes and learn how to load and unload a bike from an RTS bus bike rack. Several area bike shops will be represented.

“There’s a big push for bike advocacy in Rochester,” said Karen Rogers, owner of Exercise Express and co-founder of Rochester Women’s Bike Festival. “We’re focusing on getting women riders out there.”

The festival is geared to bringing the physical, mental and even social benefits of biking to minority women.

“We are plagued with diabetes, obesity,” Rogers said. “This is an easy thing to incorporate, especially because many of us rode as children. We want them to hear our speakers, participate in our workshops. We’ll be teaching them how to start from right where they are.”

Rogers said studies have shown that women will use a bicycle for everyday transportation if it’s convenient, comfortable, and safe. Women riders also inspire their children to bike.

The first Rochester Women’s Bike Festival in 2018 drew approximately 100 people, and more are expected this year.

“We hit the population we wanted to hit,” said Rogers, who is a cycling instructor and member of the Rochester Bicycling Club. “… We want to push it in minority communities and those that are limited.”

She said women in disadvantaged communities may lack the information about where to get bikes or information about riding. The infusion of the Pace bike-sharing program into more city neighborhoods showed reintroduced more women to biking.

“It’s ramping up the curiosity of bike riding in Rochester.”

The Rochester Women’s Bike Festival is ASL-interpreted. Rogers said last year a large number of women who are deaf attended. The festival also has child care.

Sponsors include WomanTours, Wegman’s, FoodLink, and Rochester Bicycle Club.

Women can register at rwbf-2019.eventbrite.com. Breakfast and lunch are included, as well as a gift bag for the first 150 attendees.

More information, a full schedule and updates are at facebook.com/rochesterwomenbike