Monday, June 14, 2010

Women Who Bike: Cassidy Blackwell

Does Cassidy Blackwell like biking? Photo: Cassidy Blackwell

Dressed for...biking, of course. Photo: Cassidy Blackwell

Bikes, friends, outdoors: picture perfect. Photo: Cassidy Blackwell
Women Who Bike is a collaborative effort by BIKE NOPA and Bikes And The City that features women and their bicycles. Each Monday and Wednesday check both blogs for the experiences, stories, and ideas that women who bike the city want to share with you.


What's your bicycling style?
Fly! As in my wheels are my wings and I fly around the city. I also think my bikes are superfly.

How often do you bike and what for?
I think the SFBC Bike to Work Day t-shirt from a couple years ago summed up my philosophy on biking perfectly: "Work to Live. Live to Bike. Bike to Work." Biking is a huge part of my daily life. I commute on bike to my office in Oakland everyday, and I use my bike to get me to where I need to be outside of the office -- dance classes, meetings, social gatherings and whatnot. If I'm feeling adventurous, say with my Nopa neighbor Slam Johnson (aka Rose*), I'll cruise out to Marin and take on the headlands or the Tiburon loop. Sure, walking and public transit are decent options, but biking is much more efficient so it's my primary means of transportation.

What can be done to encourage more women and girls to bike?
I used to bike everywhere when I was growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As a seven-year-old, I "loved" my pink and purple Huffy with sparkled streamers coming off the handle bars and went everywhere on my bike. But somewhere in high school I stopped biking. I think because it was just considered "cooler" and more socially acceptable to get around in a car. There was this stigma that biking was for dorks, was too hard, not fun, and unacceptable. Now I realize this was a result of typical adolescent pressures to fit a mold. Admittedly, these pressures caused me to take a decade-long hiatus from riding.

But now, immersed in the bike culture of San Francisco, I am back on two wheels and loving every second of my biking renaissance! I know now that biking isn't a mater of being cool or hip or whatever; it's an efficient and sustainable part of an urban lifestyle. I think that we as a biking community need to keep encouraging others to become a part of it, especially young ladies who may be becoming more self-conscious among their peers. We need to maintain a strong presence on the roads and show these individuals that biking is fun and most importantly safe. Many ladies might be nervous to take on the streets of San Francisco, let alone on two wheels. I know I was. Especially with all of the hills, Munis, cars, and train tracks everywhere. But I took a risk and hopped on a bike and haven't looked back.

How much is biking part of your social life?
I am proud to say that biking is an integral part of a majority of my friendships. One of the main rasons I started biking in San Francisco was when my dear friend Ben told me that he "would like me better as a person if I had a bike."

I love riding with my friends out to parties and bars in the city -- it's indescribably fun to have a posse of eight people riding out to a party together. As for dating, a guy will easily win points with me if he's into riding. And if he's not, he should just know that I will spend a decent chunk of time trying to get him on a bike.

I surprise people when I bike by ...
Biking most often in skirts and dresses. I'm always pedaling around town and love the freedom of skirts, so I've had to get creative with my wardrobe to make these two fit together (read: keep my rides PG-rated). For me, stretchy, flowy and/or short are the way to be.

My message to women who want to try biking:
JUST DO IT. Seriously. My only regret with biking in San Francisco is that I didn't get on my wheels sooner.

Do you live or ride in NOPA?
I am a proud NOPA resident. I love this neighborhood. If San Francisco were a bike wheel, NOPA is the center hub, with a ton of bike paths extending from it in every direction.

BIKE NOPA note: You can find Cassidy on her bike and on her blog Natural Selection.
* View Rose Johnson's Women Who Bike profile here.


Check here for previous posts in this series and stop by Bikes And The City every Monday and Wednesday for more Women Who Bike.

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