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Upcoming "Street Savvy" Adult Bicycle Education Classes:

Sun June 2nd - From Jones Bicyles in Belmont Shore

Sun June 9th - From Bikestation in Downtown Long Beach

Sun June 23rd - From California Cycle Sport in Lakewood

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BikeFest + Women on Bikes SoCal give very special thanks to the following organizations for their support of BikeFest Saturday May 11, 2013:


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& The League of American Bicyclist's

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  Come to Long Beach for a free, fun, easy monthly family bike ride!

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Finding the Female Advocacy Voice


Interview with Andréa White-Kjoss by Melissa Balmer


Throughout her bike-minded career Andréa White-Kjoss, the President and COO of Bikestation/Mobis Transportation Alternatives has worked to bring forward the particular needs, issues and challenges of women who would like to incorporate the bicycle into their lives – especially those who are very much in need of affordable mobility options for themselves and their children. In 2006 Andrea created the first “Women On Bikes” bicycle safety training + bicycle scholarship program for at risk and low-income women in Long Beach that was funded locally by the Gumbiner Foundation. It was this program concept that sparked the idea for the new Women On Bikes SoCal initiative. At the end of May Andréa and her husband Cliff are expecting their first child so the needs of women and children in regards to the bicycle are even more on her mind now.

MBalmer: What is your first “bike love” memory as a child?

AWK: I think that one of my strongest memories is of getting my ten-speed bike for my birthday.  I was probably ten or twelve and I remember it was burgundy with black handle bar wrappings – and I thought it was beautiful without being “girlie.”  Soon after, my parents gave me permission to ride to the park in town. We lived a few miles out of town, in a semi-residential area with horse property. When you’re a kid you have to rely on your parents to get around, and we had to ride the bus to school. Getting permission to ride to the park on my own to go swimming in the river with my friends was such a big deal. It was such an adult and free moment that I could get myself to where I needed to go by myself. I was proud to be able to “do it myself” and “feel like a big kid now.”

MBalmer: Have any issues about comfort and access come up for you riding a bike during your pregnancy, which were “aha” moments?

AWK: I just biked down to Belmont Shore to have coffee with my husband Cliff. We were chatting on the way back about how it becomes much much harder to do a lot of things the further your pregnancy progresses; particularly exercising and getting a real cardiovascular work out. There are only a few things that don’t get harder i.e. swimming, and bicycling is one of them. Some of it is about equipment; I suppose if you were riding a fixie, or didn’t have a step through frame, it would be more of a challenge. It has surprised me how easily I’m able to continue bicycling. I’m definitely slower now, but it’s still really accessible. I ride a vintage three-speed “Bayshore” with the step through frame, and both front and back racks. It’s truly a get around bike and now it’s getting me all the way through my pregnancy!

MBalmer: You have been in the bike minded industry now since 2004? What breakthroughs for women are you the most excited about?

AWK: I have seen women actually riding bikes exploding, especially in the age category of the teens and early twenties. It wouldn’t surprise me if girls are now catching up even with young men in numbers. That’s really exciting and encouraging. In leadership in the retail and consumer bicycle industry,  the big boys are still literally the big boys, but in every other aspect of bicycling women are extremely well represented, especially in advocacy leadership, where there’s probably a good 50% ratio.. At the national level, Senators and congress people are quick to point you to Deb Hubsmith with Safe Routes to School (that organization’s founder). And I think if you talk to anyone about the bicycle related consulting industry women are really well represented, with Mia Birk at the top of the list.

My hope, and the greatest potential for change to bring even more women into the bicycling arena, are the college courses that are beginning to become a part of the curriculum of urban planning, engineering and architecture schools – the concept of designing a city that is about more than where people sleep and eat and get quickly to the freeway. These new courses about livability and good urban design are the new change agents to spread the gospel about the new urban paradigm, and young women are avidly participating in them.

MBalmer: Conversely what are the areas that are taking far longer for women to make strides in than you’d hoped? Where do we still have a long way to go to make everyone comfortable bicycling?

AWK: Across the board there hasn’t been enough progress understanding the specific needs of women bicycling during their childbearing years. I’ve always had my three-speed. I haven’t been a daredevil. I don’t want to, or need to, get my adrenaline through my bicycling speed. My style of riding hasn’t changed; it’s more about my awareness that I’m going to have different types of trips I’m going to need to make. I’ll be more protective of my child than myself, and feeling safe and secure is going to become a lot more important.

MBalmer: You and your husband Cliff are both avid athletes. As you prepare to become a new parent in an era where sedentary related diseases are one of the largest threats to our youngest generation’s health and well being, do you both have a philosophy for active living that you hope your child will heed as well?

AWK: Baby Lars doesn’t have a choice (Andréa and Cliff know they’re expecting a son)! We don’t really know exactly how we’re going to do this, not having done this before, but Cliff and I are never at home sitting around – we’re out there biking, walking, running, surfing, at the pool etc. It’s going to continue to be what we do now. Our baby is going to be exposed to active living constantly. It’s not a forced example, but doing what we always do, and figuring out how to make that work with a child.

Cliff always talks about creating special little floating devices, and talking about bicycling with Lars safely, and what kinds of equipment exist to make that happen. We believe in just getting out there and doing it, trying it out. After all, Lars is going to be born already knowing the motion of a bicycle and the motion of a surfboard!



Finding the Female Advocate Voice - An Interview with Charlotte Rains Dixon

Interview with Melissa Balmer

Charlotte Rains Dixon is a talented writer, ghostwriter and creative writing coach all of which she blogs about frequently on her successful blog "" I have been a follower of Charlotte's for over a year now on Twitter, and find her advice and insights witty, pithy and extremely useful.  When I decided I wanted WoBSoCal to delve into the topic of finding and celebrating the authentic female advocacy voice for bicycling and active living I decided to start with the art of the craft of writing itself - and that Charlotte would be perfect to start the conversation with.

WobSoCal: Why it's so important for women to share their own stories and have places to share them?

Charlotte: A couple of reasons spring to mind immediately.  First, as females, it is our nature to be feeling creatures.  And feeling creatures are also processing creatures.  In order to process and make sense of our lives, we women tend to share them, whether in person or through the written word.  This impulse is one reason why friendships and family are so important to us.  It is vital for us to feel connected in one way or another.  Writing can do this for us.  Then, too, sometimes I think the most important thing is sharing our stories with ourselves in the first place.  I often wonder how people who don't journal make it through life.  I'd be lost without mine.

Another important point about women sharing stories is that we're only just now starting to be able to do so.  For most of history, women's' voices were silenced by the predominant male paradigm.  I'm not going to go into the specifics of this—I think we're all familiar with the basics.  But, truly, it's been only over the last century or so that women have begun to speak out and make their voices heard.  Think of the stories that have been lost because of this.  Historically, many women wrote in their journals much as I do, to make sense of their lives.  They didn't do it to be published or become well known.  I think of the diaries of women who walked across the Oregon trail (a subject dear to me because my own ancestors migrated west in wagon trains).  They wrote of babies getting sick, husbands dying, the need to jettison their beloved belongings.  They wrote of day-to-day, "domestic" events that didn't concern men.  And thank God they did write of these things—because our picture of the western migration would have been woefully incomplete without their diaries. 

For years, the only places most women had to write were journals or letters.  So it makes me incredibly happy that such a large number of bloggers are women.  It is an ideal venue for women, and it strikes me that it’s a very natural one as well.  We're well accustomed to sharing our lives through journaling (and remember, that blogs are, at heart, online journals).

WoBSoCal: In your blog post of 11/14/12 "Tools for Writers: Attentional Training" you talk about the kind of repetitive, deliberate activity that doesn't require much concentration (such as knitting, walking or biking) being a sort of meditative experience and a powerful tool for opening up to creativity can you share with us some of the inspiration that has come to you from making sure to incorporate these sorts of activity into your life?

Charlotte: I get all kinds of ideas on my morning walks, and sometimes when I'm blocked I get up from the computer and pick up my knitting.  Often, mere minutes will pass and I'm flying back to my desk to write again, because the ideas are coming so fast. I generally get ideas for ongoing projects during these times.  For instance, I may be working on a novel and reach a point in a scene where I'm not sure what happens next.  If I get outside and let go of thinking about my work for a bit, the solution usually pops in.  I often get brand new ideas, too, for instance, for blog posts.  It can be helpful to jog your subconscious a bit.  

If you're going on a bike ride and you want to jostle your creativity, try asking yourself a question before you leave.  For instance, try something like, "What needs to happen next in my novel," or, "What scene from my childhood do I need to remember for my memoir," or, "What is it that I really want to write about?"  You can also ask open-ended questions like, "What else is possible?" or "What am I not seeing?"  The trick is to ask the questions, perhaps repeating them a few times and then whiz off on your bike and forget about them.  But do take along some way to note the answers that will be sure to come, whether it’s an index card and small pen, or you phone that you can write notes on.

I'll have to add biking to my own idea-gathering repertoire and see what kinds of ideas it brings up!

WoBSoCal: You've written a book called "The Complete Guide to Successfully Writing Fundraising Letters. Where, in your own experience, do many people dedicating their lives to raising money and working in non profits, miss the mark? What is the "aha" moment for them?

Charlotte: True confession: I wrote that book, loved writing it, and think it’s a helpful book for anyone who needs to write fund-raising letters.  But, I don't consider myself an expert in it.  I was for the duration of time I wrote the book, but as with many of my writing projects, I was assigned the topic, researched it and put together the information that I found.  I did not set out to write it because I knew so much about the subject.  (Which brings up an interesting point, that there are two kinds of writing, the type when you write because you have a passion for the subject, or the type when you write because you've been assigned a topic.) 

However, all that being said, I do think that people who dedicate their lives to raising money might miss the mark a bit in that they tend to be very tunnel-visioned, which might be a phrase that I just made up.  Anyway, non-profit types, God love 'em (and I admired them deeply), get so caught up in how they are saving the world in their little area of it, that they lose sight of the big picture. 

WoBSoCal: Why is emotionally engaging story-telling is key to strong fundraising?

Charlotte: Emotionally engaging story telling is indeed the key to strong fundraising.  It is also the key to strong communication in any media, period.  That extends to writing novels, memoirs, copywriting, articles about biking, blogs, anything.  Why?  Because we humans are hard-wired to process information through story telling.  It is how we learn and receive information best.  Eons ago, our ancestors sat around campfires (think of it: the only light at night would be from the stars above and their campfires) and told each other stories about their lives.  Perhaps they told tales of the most recent hunts, or the women whispered to each other about babies being born.  The cadences and rhythms of those stories are within us still, and we're much more likely to be able to raise money or sell a novel if we remember that.

WoBSoCal: What could Portland do to capture your imagination about riding a bike more often? Yes, they are heads and shoulders above most of the country on bike friendliness - but what would you need to see?

I just have to say—I often feel sorry for people who come to this city and drive for the first time.  Bicyclists are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  You have to be very careful when turning right or opening car doors in this town, or you'll hit a person on a bike.  In some parts of town, waiting at a stop sign to cross a street, it looks like someone is shooting bicyclists out of a cannon, there are so many of them.  And, I love it. In my own little urban neighborhood, I live one house away from a street that is a dedicated bike path, so there's a constant parade of bicyclists going by all day.  For me, personally, I will never need to worry about commuting to work on a bike (though thousands do here every day) but I would like to become more of a casual bike-rider.  I think in order to do that I'd need to take advantage of the resources that are already offered. It strikes me that probably anything I could mention is already available; I'm just not utilizing it.  So probably they could do a better job of publicizing what resources they have. 

WoBSoCal: Where and how would Portland's bicycle outreach be most effective in reaching and inspiring you and other friends who might be open to the idea of biking, but simply don't think about it in your day to day life? And what kind of bike activities would spark your interest? Here at WoBSoCal we have a mid century modern bike tour being planned, bike wine tours in discussion, and a "Cycle Chic: Dress for the Destination" urban bike fashion show in the works. Would any of those be your cup on tea?

Charlotte: I love the idea of the urban bike fashion show; that sounds like a lot of fun, as does the bike wine tour (as long as I didn't drink too much—sometimes wine tasting can be intense!).  The other idea I had as I read of your events is something linking bike riding and creativity.  So, a bike tour of art supply stores (we have some really cool ones here in town) or a bike tour that integrated journaling—ride and observe and then meet at a park and write about what you saw in guided exercises.  Something like that really appeals to me, not only because it would be fun, but because I love the idea of combining physical activity with creativity.  The role of our bodies in creative work is not addressed enough, in my mind.