Bike Riding IRL: Courtney Williams
May (as we might have mentioned) is National Bike Month, so we’ve rounded up four New Yorkers who want to talk to us about what it’s really like to ride a bike in New York City—and one of them is Courtney Williams of Black Girls Do Bike.
Courtney grew up in the Midwest riding bikes–but as high school, college, and eventually grad school demanded that all of her attention be split between her studies and the student organizing she loved, she essentially forgot about her bike passion. Upon moving to NYC in 2009, she noticed that the city at least had a bike culture she might want to be a part of one day, but in her tiny apartment, where her room was actually a living room with a curtain for a door, bike storage and a commuter’s life didn’t seem feasible.
Ultimately, it was bike infrastructure that got Courtney Williams riding again. As she unpacked the final item in her new Clinton Hill apartment, she realized there was a bike lane on her new street, and saw it as a sign that it was finally time to get back on a bike–as it happens, a vintage 10-speed purchased for $85 from the Brooklyn Flea.
Two bikes later, Courtney is the five-borough community organizer (known as a “Shero”) of the NYC chapter of Black Girls Do Bike, and her goal is to “cultivate a community of black female cyclist leaders who participate widely in the both social and advocate bike scene in NYC.”
So why have we invited Courtney to join our National Bike Month panel to discuss bike riding IRL? For starters, she can speak to all the reasons young people DON’T ride in the city–no space to store a bike; life’s hard enough in NYC without adding another challenge to the mix; and maybe you lack a support network of others who bike–but she can also speak to all the reasons young people DO ride–because it’s the most convenient, healthiest, and least expensive way to get around, and because it can be a great way to make friends.
She also embodies our own mission–connecting people to their communities–through her work with Black Girls Do Bike. In the last year, she has grown the NYC BGDB group from 130 to 550 participants and organized & lead more than 22 group rides. She’s put together workshops and collaborated with both WE Bike NYC, working toward women’s empowerment through bicycles, and InTandem, providing tandem cycling opportunities to people with disabilities. Courtney Williams‘s experiences will no doubt resonate with both those considering getting on a bike and those who already commute, so we invite you to come learn a little something from one cool lady.