<p>Black Girls Do Bike London</p>

Black Girls Do Bike London

Black Girls Do Bike: Meet the group breaking down barriers for Black female cyclists in London

“Black women can have joy, happiness and peace through cycling,” says the founder of Black Girls Do Bike London

Hollie Richardson
Tuesday 10 August 2021 09:39
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Cycling has long been known as one of the most white and male sports in the world.

Just last month, British Cycling published a strategy that reported there are “not enough Black and ethnically diverse people racing, volunteering or in the cycling workforce”. It came after a 2018 report suggested that only seven per cent of London’s cyclists are from ethnic minority groups. Along with the fact that males made on average three times more cycling trips than females in 2019, it’s clear that there are still many barriers that Black female cyclists face.

Karen Safo-Barnieh launched Black Girls Do Bike London at the start of 2021 because she saw hardly anyone that looked like her cycling around the streets of London. Originally founded by Monica Godfrey-Garrison in America, BGDB welcomes cyclists of all levels to go on inclusive and fun rides. Since Safo-Barnieh set up the London branch, the group now has 100 members and it has been on seven rides.

“A woman emailed us once saying she saw us riding around in Hyde park and explained how it warmed her heart to see so many Black women cycling together,” Safo-Barnieh tells The Independent. “It showed us that BGDB London is a necessity. A community of women who empower each other to challenge themselves to ride and hold space in places they would not normally see themselves.”

Karen Safo - Barnieh, Faith Uwadiae and Shay Walters.

Explaining why she thinks cycling has traditionally excluded Black women, Safo-Barnieh says: “Black people have been socially excluded from participating in sports that cost money. Due to the systemic economic barriers that Black people face on a day to day basis, it follows that many Black women were never taught how to ride a bike simply because they couldn’t afford it. As a result, Black women have been taught to survive and not thrive.

“Also, most of the existing cycling clubs are dominated by white men. Black women often feel that they don’t belong in that space, they [can] feel intimidated and unsafe.

Black women face microaggressions at work and in various other white-dominated spaces on a day to day basis, they do not want to have to experience this in a space where their aim is to experience leisure and joy.

“That is why BGDB London is a necessity. Its aim is to provide space for Black women to just ‘be’ and to change the narrative, that Black women can have joy, happiness and peace through cycling.”

Safo-Barnieh’s plans for BGDB London include getting an official kit and organising a winter social. She also hopes to plan sessions that focus specifically on the needs of Black women cyclists, such as one on hair care while cycling.

She also hopes to collaborate with other clubs in the city – Black Girls Hike, Black Girls Run and Black Girls Dig – to curate events that encourage Black women to thrive and cultivate joy.

“Black Girls Do Bike London is not just a club, it’s a sisterhood,” Safo-Barnieh says. “It’s pure joy; a safe space to meet like-minded people. Many of the sisters have said it’s a form of self-care for them.”

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