Although more women are riding bikes now than ever before, there’s still a large gender gap in the cycling community. Part of the problem is that for decades—bikes, bike gear, and bike services were all geared towards men. Thankfully, that is changing. Here are five women who wanted to make cycling more accessible and decided to take matters into their own hands, changing the way we ride and inspiring others to turn their own bright ideas into reality.
Emily Brooke – Founder and CEO of Blaze
Emily Brooke is the creator of one of the most revolutionary technologies in modern cycling. Although not a lifelong cycling fan, she was coaxed into completing a charity ride in her mid-20s and things have never been the same.
In the final year of a product design degree, Brooke decided to turn her new hobby into a research project. After conducting an extensive investigation into urban cycle safety in the UK, Brooke discovered several unsettling facts, including that 79 % of cyclists involved in accidents are travelling straight ahead, meaning the accident occurs because somebody else turns into them. In attempting to address this problem, she created what would later become known as the Laserlight. A headlight that fixes to the front of a bike, it also projects the symbol of a bike onto the ground in front via a laser, alerting drivers that a cyclist is coming. A success from day one, the Laserlight has now been built into the Santander cycles in London and the city bikes in New York.
Alex Feechan – Founder and Owner of FINDRA
Alex Feechan knows how to make clothes that feel great on a woman’s body. Despite already having established herself as an innovative fashion designer, Feechan decided to switch her focus when she saw a problem that needed addressing. When she started cycling seven years ago, it was love at first ride, but she quickly noticed the lack of high-performance outerwear designed for women.
Knowing an opportunity when she saw it, the concept for FINDRA was born. With FINDRA, Feechan has created clothing that is both practical and stylish, avoid the ‘shrink and pink’ tendency and giving women the best of both worlds. Providing super durable garments, FINDRA’s collections are inspired by women who love to push their limits in the great outdoors.
Catherine Ellis – Founder and Director of Hill & Ellis
Another woman who decided to fill a market gap when she saw one, Catherine Ellis was frustrated after a long fruitless search for a stylish bike bag. Realizing that gear which didn’t properly address their needs was keeping women off bikes, Ellis founded Hill & Ellis in 2012.
Dedicated to making bike bags that work for the cyclists’ destination as well as their journey, Hill and Ellis creates luxurious leather bags that are fitted with reversible reflective strips, hidden hooks, and innovative storage solutions. Without compromising functionality, Ellis has created bags that can be carried with confidence anywhere they go.
Jenni Gwiazdowski – Founder and Director of London Bike Kitchen
When Jenni Gwiazdowski bought a frame in London, she was excited to get to work building and maintaining her bike. Instead of being disheartened when she couldn’t find any workshops, she decided to seize the opportunity and open up her own space where cyclists of all levels and backgrounds would feel comfortable working on their bike in a group setting.
Now into their sixth year, London Bike Kitchen is a DIY workshop where riders can work on their own bikes and take courses to build their skills. Run primarily by women, the LBK has also become a cycle hub for social events. Expanding their program, the Kitchen also hosts Women and Gender-Variant nights, a bi-weekly event designed to be a place where women can learn new skills, meet one another and share cycling experiences.
Robin Bylenga – Owner and CEO of Pedal Chic
Robin Bylenga knew that she wanted to see more women on bikes, so she decided to dedicate her career to making cycling more accessible. She opened Pedal Chic in 2010, the first woman-owned bike store in the US to cater exclusively to women riders. With the mission to share cycling expertise and provide functional and fashionable bikes and active wear to get more women riding, Bylenga is working now to transform Pedal Chic from a store into a movement.
She travels nationwide to speak on women’s cycling issues and hosts multiple rides each week. These events are designed to build women rider’s confidence in a group dynamic and provide them with a support community to continue growing in the sport. Through events, live talks, coaching, and webinar, Bylenga is bringing her vision to life, one rider at a time.