We’ve been moved – close to tears – by the stories of women who have to fight for the right to ride their bicycle. Women in Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan face jail time and street harassment for just cycling down the street of their neighbourhoods. Whether it’s for transport, fitness, fun or freedom, being allowed to ride a bike without prejudice or harm should be every humans right.
After research and public surveys, a new video short has been released exposing the true nature of being a female bicycle messenger in the US. The documentary interviews several female bike messengers who share their stories of being harassed on the job. It’s more than just the occasional wolf whistle.
“65% of women have reported being a victim of street harassment during their lives”
If being a bike messenger wasn’t hard enough: having to dodge traffic, meet deadlines, risk mechanical failures and adverse weather; the women said they had to deal with all kinds of street harassment:
- Being groped
- Being flashed
- Having things thrown at them
- Being spit upon
- Getting followed
- Degrading profanity shouted at them
- Death threats
This behaviour is abhorrent and worrying, and perhaps explains in part why only 24% of all bike trips in the US are made by women.
These women are trying to work and earn a living, just like everyone else. They choose to ride bikes for fun, fitness, and to do their jobs. However, freedom to ride our bicycle seems to be something just out of a pedals reach. The experiences that our friends over the pond have suffered aren’t too dissimilar from those happening more closer to home.
Courier women are strong, though – and they’re not taking it lying down. Emily Chappell is an ex-London courier who has written a book detailing her adventures and experiences as a bike messenger, entitled “What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story“. She’s since gone on to become one of the most inspiring solo tarns-continent riders out there, as she smashes down barriers and hopes to educate and encourage women to ride more.
Unfortunately there are many reported cases of street harassment towards cyclists across social media. Just a couple of weeks ago, a cyclist in Australia managed to catch camera footage revealing a driver leaning out of his window to slap the cyclist as he drove past.
Sadly, the alarming statistics in the video clip below just goes to show that “stranger attacks” are yet another barrier that women have to overcome in order to ride their bicycle. But what’s worse is that all of this can seriously discourage women from riding their bikes at all.
You can watch the full documentary below. *Warning: may invoke fits of rage and disgust