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Women on Bikes Saint Paul wants to see more women on bikes

The recently formed Women on Bikes Saint Paul, an advocacy group that aims to get more women biking around the city, is looking for a full-time community organizer to lead the way. (See the job posting here.)

The group hopes to fill the position by early July, according to Jessica Treat, the executive director at St. Paul Smart Trips, its umbrella organization.  

The idea behind the initiative is to “advance the political will in St. Paul” as it pertains to bicycling. “We want to turn out a coalition of women, including women with kids, for bicycling issues,” she says. “It’s about livability.”

Treat is a co-founder of the group along with Amber Dallman and Samantha Henningson. All of them are avid bicyclists. 
The idea for the group came out of a grassroots process to get a bike boulevard on Charles Avenue, from North Aldine Street to Park Street. It was a success, but it took quite a bit of effort to turn out women and families. “That was eye-opening to the three of us involved,” Treat says. “We said, ‘what would it take to turn out that voice repeatedly?’”   

The “percentage of women on bikes is a lot lower,” than it is for men, she says, adding, “There are real reasons for that.”

A recent survey from St. Paul Smart Trips of over 200 women in the city showed that safety is a major concern when it comes to biking, especially for those with children, she says. “It’s not that there aren’t sympathetic men, but women with families are a powerful constituency that needs to be heard."

The group’s next step is to pull together a group of spokeswomen from each city ward, who would be responsible for connecting with local politicians. Soon, the group will also organize an advisory body of some sort, to “help us decide what to focus on,” she says.   

Some areas of the city have little to no bicycle infrastructure. “We need to have some conversations about trade-offs, what are the priorities,” she says. “We need to start talking about why biking and having a bike-supportive city is important to business in St. Paul, and attracting talent and young people.”  

Source: Jessica Treat, executive director, St. Paul Smart Trips
Writer: Anna Pratt
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