While Bike NOPA declined to publish the following interview with Janel Sterbentz, on account of the fact that she dared to mention how unpleasant, stinky and dangerous cars are, On the Level is happy to publish Janel’s words. As you know if you are a regular reader, On the Level is not afraid of coming out of the closet with our opposition to the automobile. If you are a woman cyclist, please submit your answers to these questions and On the Level will post your words here. Even if you are in love with cars and think they have really improved our cities, please send us your answers to these questions and we will be happy to publish all points of view.
1. What kind of cyclist are you?
Bold | carefree | Aggressive | racer | foot down at stop signs | careful | ETC –
2. Do you bike frequently and for what purpose?
I bike every day to stay mentally and physically fit. I don’t want anything to do with the oil industry’s wars, carnage from motorists hitting pedestrians/cyclists, or the air and noise pollution. To me cycling leads to a positive future and pleasant street environment while driving leaves destruction and unpleasantness in its path. Also, it is just so much fun to bike.
3. What measures could be taken in San Francisco to get more women, including teenage girls, to cycle?
I think some women feel cycling is too dangerous and aggressive, especially biking in fast traffic and over uneven pavement. They may feel like it is not feminine, especially if they think they won’t be able to wear dresses, high heels, and purses; or that it will mess up their hair and make them sweaty. I think these concerns can be overcome by showing women the best routes to take, saying it is ok to bike slowly and on a more upright bike. When you compare figures in the US where only 1/3 of the bicycle commuter population are women versus The Netherlands or Copenhagen where it is more like half, you can see that when there are separated paths on safer routes more women, children and elderly bike.
4. Have any of your friendships or relationships begun with cycling? Fun anecdotes you can tell us about?
5. I shock others when I cycle by
6. I tell other women who want to start cycling:
Get together with a friend who bikes, or if you don’t know anyone who bikes, volunteer at your local bicycle coalition, there are so many friendly cyclists who are eager to have others to bike around with. Bike to Work Day May 13th is a great time to start biking (http://www.youcanbikethere.com/). SFBC has commuter convoys where groups meet up and bike the best route to work (http://www.sfbike.org/?commuterconvoy). They also have street skills and bike maintenance classes. Bike in Golden Gate Park on JFK Drive on the weekends when the street is closed to cars to get used to it.