ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bike riding has seen a surge in popularity during the pandemic. Now one Tampa Bay area organization is creating a campaign aimed specifically at female riders.
Bike/Walk Tampa Bay has compiled a team of 21 women to lead the push in 2021.
“I’m really proud to share with other women how easy it is to ride here, how wonderful it is to ride here. It’s a year-round activity for me,” said Vanessa Wheeler.
Wheeler is one of the 21 women being celebrated at bikewalktampabay.org for their commitment and dedication to cycling.
“They are serving as role models for all women who want to bicycle,” said Julie Bond, program director of Bike/Walk Tampa Bay. “We know there are less women than men bicycling, and so we want to change that.”
When you read their bios, these women vary in ages, abilities and address, but they all have that same zest to grab life by the handlebars.
“I’d love to get more women into biking, and I’m happy to share any knowledge I have with women, especially the safety aspect,” said Lisa Snodgrass.
Anne Fidanzato manages Trek Bicycle in St. Pete. She believes too many women feel intimidated just to walk into a bike shop.
“So at this shop, we have two women that work here and one woman at our other store. It’s something we focus on to try and get women comfortable with riding, comfortable with their equipment, comfortable with changing their own flat,” said Fidanzato.
Once you have that set of wheels, many of these ambassadors, like Becky Afonso, are setting up monthly group rides in their own neighborhoods.
“Residents who don’t think they can ride like me, but when we go out and do that slow ride, and I ask them how they feel every six miles, and they say, ‘fine,’ by the end of the day, ‘How do you feel? Great, did you know you rode 25 miles today,’ they are amazed,” said Afonso.
Whether it’s commuting to work, getting exercise, or just having fun with the family, Bike/Walk Tampa Bay says every woman can find a reason to go for a ride.
“This is long term for us. This is not just a short term initiative. We plan on growing this and growing the numbers of women bicycling in the Tampa Bay area in the years to come,” said Bond.