So about that women’s bicycle collective…

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I’ve recently connected with a group starting a women’s bike collective in Montreal! This is exciting for a number of reasons, including women, bicycles and collectives.

Empowering women to take care of their bikes is an important issue for me. My trusty steed is not a complicated contraption, and I don’t need someone else to take care of it for me, but I do need a place to learn how, particularly a space that doesn’t make me feel like I am infringing on other peoples (mens) turf.

Also, people look at me like I am crazy for biking in the city, particularly in the winter, and keep offering the excuses of it being so hard, and how I must be so in shape, and how they could never do that. But the truth is that it’s not that hard, and I would have been a regular urban cyclist way earlier if I had felt like I knew what I was doing with this thing between my legs. I admit that doing the cycling all the time has impacted my lifestyle, but there is plenty of room between occasional recreational biking and hardcore every-outfit-I-own-includes-bike-grease cycling for those less extreme.

I want to support cyclists in the city. It’s not always a easy ride between the potholes and the aggressive traffic, and it won’t get easier without more people on the roads with two wheels instead of four. To give more people the option of bicycling by making it less weird or scary, and to bolster those that need some encouragement, some sharing and awareness raising is in order.

I hope this project becomes a vehicle for change in transportation issues, womens issues and the cycling scene in Montreal.

Finn

(ha! ha! get it? transportation, vehicle…. sorry)

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10 thoughts on “So about that women’s bicycle collective…

  1. That sounds awesom.

    I have done a lot of my own bike repair over the years, but these last two I have decided that it is just not something that I have the time for )maybe that is because I found a good, affordable mechanic…)

    Still, knowing how to do the work is essential considering I want to start touring again once Sam is old enough to enjoy a day lont trailer ride. We should do a cycle camping trip together. Maybe out to Orford? It is only about 100 KM away by route vert.

    • That would be awesome fun! I haven’t been to orford since my grade 10 ski trip, and I am sure it would be a lot more interesting on bicycle.

      I’ve been pretty lucky on the road with repair needs, and when I’ve needed a shop, it’s usually been to replace parts. I still haven’t figured out how to get components without shop keepers trying to disuade me from putting them on myself. Coops have been helpful in that respect, but the timing is always awkward.

      • I still haven’t figured out how to get components without shop keepers trying to disuade me from putting them on myself.

        I think that it is useful to have a penis for that one. But even then, knowing the right shops is useful. I am a big fan of Bicycles Eddy in that respect. They are friendly and helpful, have sold me parts without trying to get the added mechanical job (and generally don’t try to up-sell at all which is really nice), and when I have had them do mechanic work, they have been fast, professional and explained all of the problems/work that they needed to do before actually doing it. Last time I checked, it was also possible to schedule a repair (like you do with a car garage), so that you are not without your bike while it sits in a shop waiting for days until the mechanics get to it.

        But, I don’t know if they would treat a woman the same way. I would like to think yes, but…

      • I’m sure you already know, but on the off chance you don’t, Right to Move offers new parts at cost and used parts for free, and also doesn’t give anyone any attitude (regardless of penis-status) for wanting to put it on themselves. In fact, they encourage it (rather vociferously).

  2. It’s so true that being able to do one’s own repairs is incredibly empowering. The best thing is just the confidence it gives you. Last summer my pedals just flat out stopped turning one day on my way home from school one day, and there I was, stuck in the middle of suburban hell, with not a non-car-encapsulated human for miles, but even though I had no idea yet what had happened to my bike, I was just sort of easily confident that whatever it was, I could probably fix it and get home without much trouble. There’s nothing that can make up for that sort of self-sufficiency.

    I was a member of Right to Move when I was in Montreal and I really miss it. A women’s bike collective also sounds awesome. I haven’t been able to find anything similar in Toronto, which is really too bad.

    • Had you chain slipped between your gears? That keeps happening to my front gears – they got kind of messed up while I rode on a crumbling bottom bracket for a few hundred km and I think I got stuck with a 21 speed chain for my 15 speed bike, so it falls in all the more easily.

      • The chain actually fell off the gears completely and was stuck between the gears and the frame, sort of folded up and (for a time) completely immovable. The only thing about it that really sucked was that I had failed to follow my father’s motto of always carrying work gloves on one’s bike, so my hands ended up completely black.

  3. Exciting stuff! I bought a couple of books on bike repair last summer, and learned how to replace flat tires from my dad, but I’m sure I still have a long way to go to be sufficient enough to manage my cross-Canada tour.

    In Munich, there are tons of people on bikes, even though there’s a layer of ice on the ground, but my eco-friendly roommate tells me that cars still get annoyed at bicycles here. Even though almost every street has a bike path on the sidewalk! I should have a bike myself before the end of March (in the interest of saving on the rather exorbitant cost of public transport), and I’m looking forward to biking out to every lake within 100km.

    • You are planning a cross canada tour? fantastic!

      I am curious to learn more about other cities car/bicycle dynamics as I am sure there are interesting patterns of relations. But exploring the countryside on bicycle is, in my opinion, the way to go, even in colder weather.

      • Planning a cross-canada tour is somewhat relative. It’s a dream I have, but requires a four month summer of free time and a lot of money. Also, it requires me to find someone to go with me, because my sister won’t let me go alone. (And she’s right that it wouldn’t really be a good idea to go alone.)

        Last summer, I biked south on the main highway out of Edmonton, and it was a great trip (just 60 km). Certainly makes me want to do more long-distance, out of the city stuff!

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