Last spring the Bike advocacy world erupted with the realization that if we wanted to get more people riding we'd have to get families riding. Specifically, the cycling world needed more women riding, more often.
Each spring the League of American Cyclists holds the national bike summit in DC. This year there was a focus or "track" aimed specifically at women. There was a lot written about the topics covered, the presenters, the failings, the successes and what should be added in the future. I won't try to recap all of it here but, if you want to check out a good synopsis check out Girl, Bike Love. You may want to bookmark that site too. It's a good one.
It seemed going into June the coverage was amplified in magazines like Bicyclist, Bike, & Biking plus a host of blogs. I also noticed most magazines like tourism magazines, family magazines, as well as adventure travel magazines featured stories that included "touring by bicycle". Most pictures featured photos of women riding, laughing and enjoying themselves as they rode with families, spouses and friends through vineyards, peach orchards, scenic trails in the mountains, valleys and deserts. Of course there were also those standard photos of men and women slogging through mud, rain, and wind as they were grinding to the top of some distant mountain pass.
Following the Girl.Bike.Love post and reposting here, I asked how can we get more families riding bikes? The blogs and media outlets were saying "moms", women, get them riding and the families will follow, and your community will be healthier.
So I did some "target marketting" too. I retooled the messaging, ie th posts on the Facebook page along with this blog to reflect the conversations I was hearing during bike night, between women. After taking mental notes over the first several bike nights and asking long time bike nighters this specific question
"What are you guys talking about back there?"
Most times the smiling reply was "How nice it is you're entertaining 40 kids up front so we don't have too!" Followed with "We get to be adults and have fun."
I needed a benchmark for success. I figured Bike Night's facebook page demographics would be the best indicator. In May I looked at the demographics of the Longmont Bike Night Facebook page. That's right, demographics, statistics, ugh. math. The stuff of sophomore nightmares, anyway, I found it interesting in March the Longmont Bike Night Facebook page was split 51/49 female to male. The age bracket with the most likes was the 35 - 54 bracket.
After a summer of blogging and reaching out to the ladies of Bike Night and through the continued success of the G'Knight Ride the overall Bike Night counts are up and our gender split has widened. Last year Bike Night drew an average of 95 people per ride over the 19 week season. This year we've drawn as many as 233 riders. If the numbers stay on track our average will be higher than 100 riders. The interesting thing about this, is the gender break. The gender split is 61/39 female to male. The largest demographic is women ages 35 to 45.
I said "Thanks." It's a fun thing and I'm glad you and your family enjoy it".
He said, "I'm a mountain biker and cruising isn't my thing, but, my wife was talking to some friends at a party in our neighborhood, and [our friends] couldn't stop talking about how much fun they have on Bike Night. So two Wednesdays ago we packed up the bikes and the trailer and drove down to join you on our first ride. We had a blast!"
I said, "That's awesome."
Considering we're a little more than half-way through the Bike Night Season, this is great to see. I know from leading the rides each week there are more kids riding, there are more families coming from more places (not just Longmont), and we are getting more people riding.
Lastly, I gotta say last weekend I got to take Anna on her first Mountain Bike Ride to Heil Ranch in the foothills west of Longmont. It was a great experience getting to ride with my first grader. We didn't go far, but we did have fun. She got to accomplish her first climb and a super fun downhill.
After we got back to the van I asked Anna what was her favorite part of the ride? I fully expected to hear, "Riding with you, Dad!" Instead, it was - "All the girl mountain bikers saying good job to me".