By May Romo – The Latinas Bike Initiative is a concept that seeks to inspire Latina women to bike by teaching them basic bike principals and offering resources and support in their primary language. The initiative’s ultimate vision is a network of Latina Bike Clubs throughout Salt Lake County that encourage Latina women to become cycling advocates within the county and in their communities.
In May 2016, the Latina Bike Initiative launched by offering educational sessions in the Midvale area. This endeavor is the first step in helping state bike initiatives reaching ethnically diverse groups—especially Latinas. The riding skills sessions taught the Latinas about basic bike safety, the mechanics and maintenance of a bicycle, theft protection, bicycle rodeos, and how to form community group rides.
The initiative’s original goal was to recruit 10 women and teach them bike safety and maintenance so they, in turn, could recruit others and cultivate cycling in their own community; organizers were pleasantly surprised in the community’s interest in cycling, with more than 30 women registering for the classes in Midvale.
For the Midvale classes, the initiative provided bicycle equipment, including bikes from the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective and SLCBAC. The women demonstrated varying degrees of riding confidence, but in the end all the attendees learned to ride a bike. One participant mentioned that the classes would also help her fix her son’s bicycle at home, and another said it inspired her to be active in her city and participate in community events.
The Latina Bike Initiative’s success in Midvale has created interest in other cities. Initiative leaders plan to expand to West Valley City next year, while continuing to provide support to the Midvale Latinas Bike group.
Organizers look forward to expanding this pilot effort and engaging other communities in Salt Lake County; the initiative is always looking for bike donations to continue growing the program.
The Latina Bike Initiative is a collaborative effort between Safe Kids Salt Lake County, the Salt Lake County Health Department, and the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective. In addition, Bike Utah provides essential resources.
The Latina Bike Initiative can be reached by contacting Safe Kids at 385-468-3880.