Kristina Walker answered questions for the Post Defiance:

  1. When were the Velofemmes established?

We’re not an official organization but we gathered this spring and became VeloFemmes official a couple weeks ago. The City of Tacoma (Tacoma Mobility) and Downtown On the Go have long talked about getting a women’s group together because of the disparity between women and men on bicycles (only 24% women). I gathered the group together (just ladies I knew who biked) and it grew from there. There has been an obvious need and interest in the community based on the enthusiasm we’ve had from even our initial gatherings.

  1. What was the impetus?
    At Downtown On the Go, we have a goal of increasing the number of commuters biking to work. For women, there are different, and probably more, barriers to making that happen. We wanted to create a safe place to try biking for the first time. Also, we often hear “I’m the only person biking in Tacoma.” Or “I’m the only women who bikes in Tacoma.” Gathering women together has been empowering for all of us! We hope to do workshops and events that speak directly to those barriers in the future.  There is also a growing national movement of women on bicycles – the every day cycling type movement, the whole idea that you don’t need to wear bike clothes. Diane Wiatr (at the City) and I have always loved that and have tried to raise awareness of it (as is happening in many other cities). Biking can be hip and fun and easy! VeloFemmes was a natural local extension of that movement.
  2. Who is/was behind the group's establishment?
    I gathered everyone initially but it is really a group grassroots effort. There are women of all kinds in Tacoma that cycle (commute, race, ride for recreation, ride with their families) and they just needed a reason to gather.
  3. What is the Velofemmes' mission?
    Tacoma women. Having fun. Riding bikes.

(We realize that’s more of a tag line than a mission but we didn’t want to complicate it. That’s it. Simple. So much can fit under that umbrella.)

  1. What has the community response been like?

There was an obvious need and a huge interest. Women and men have been coming out of the woodwork to say what a great idea it is and participate. The Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club (our oldest cycling club in Tacoma!) have stepped up to sponsor and participate. The Harmon Tap Room is an enthusiastic partner.

  1. Tell me about the name 'Velofemmes'.

We spent a lot of time kicking around names from the silly to the outrageous and shocking. There was a ride in NYC called Skirts on Bikes last year. We started with that name but felt like it was important not to feel like you had to wear a skirt (really, come in whatever you feel comfortable in!). In the end, we wanted it to be female but not too girly and have some reference to cycling. Tina McGregor did our beautiful logo which also carries through those features. Again, we want to be accessible to everyone.

  1. How many rides have you had so far? What has the turnout been like?

This is our first event. We’re planning group rides (at every level), workshops, forums, discussions, socials, etc. etc. etc.

  1. What do you hope to bring to Tacoma culture with the Velofemmes?

An accessible, fun place for people to try cycling and a positive, supportive cycling community for women who are already cycling. Ultimately, more cyclists on the road means less congestion, healthier people and a more livable community (not to mention stronger local businesses and local economy). We want to see more women on bikes. We want to share the joy of cycling with more people.

More people on bikes also means more demand for bike facilities (bike lanes) so if we can make a positive impact on that, it would be great!

  1. What are you goals (long- and/or short-term)?

Getting more women on bikes.

  1. Tell me about the ride on June 20th (other than what I can find on Facebook, if anything). 

We purposely did this on Third Thursday to capture the energy of the events that are already going on. The art museum is doing chalk art in Tollefson, the art bus is out. We’re adding to that with the focus on cycling. Our map is posted (just 3.7 miles) – anyone can do it! Look for teaser photos coming soon (all of us women on bikes. . .. )

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