by Natasha Dailey
I am an African American woman that enjoys cycling. I’ve been a recreational cyclist for the past four years, but I have a goal to start riding a bicycle all year round. During my journey I have seen more people of color choosing recreational cycling as a means to stay healthy.
As a co-founder of Rochester Women Bike Festival, I’ve been working in my community to give more people the opportunity to understand how to deal with their fears or general concerns about cycling. Once I was on my bicycle, I realized the wonderful trails in my city, almost like treasures hidden behind the trees!. As I started to learn more about bicycling and the rules of the road, I became more comfortable riding in the streets. With the sun against my back and a cool breeze in my face, I felt independent and connected to my neighborhood. This is why I train people to try ride bicycles as a healthy way to get around town. It’s why I advocate for everyone to share the road no matter what form of transportation we choose to use.
More Americans are riding bicycles for recreation, healthier living and transportation, too. African Americans are part of that trend, with organizations like Black Girls do Bike and Major Taylor Cycling clubs opening chapters across the country for people to join group of cyclists who look like them. Physical activity helps to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It not only helps to maintain weight, reduces high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and several forms of cancer. Studies have shown a growing trend of African Americans getting informed and taking actions when it comes to their health.
If your image of people riding bicycles includes cycling out in the country of Upstate New York, riding in cities and car-centric requires a different set of skills. The League of American Bicyclists, a national organization which does outreach in every state, teaches safety instruction courses tailored for the unique needs of urban transportation cyclists. For people who are economically dependent on bicycle transportation and have no other means to get around their community, this instruction not only allows a cyclist to work on their health and their safety, too.
Bicycling is an cost-effective, non-polluting transportation. It can help reduce congestion and green house gas emissions. Cycling can help build healthier and safer communities: research has shown that an increased number of cyclists makes it safer for all road users. By attracting the interested but concerned demographic in teaching to bicyclist safety, the number of cyclist increases. Actual and perceived safety improves, attracting even more people to cycling. This can be seen in an increase of women cyclists, often seen as an “indicator species” of the health and safety of a community. Which helps to identify the safety of the community.
As people become more knowledgeable about the benefits that cycling offers for their health and the community, people who ride bicycles for basic transportation need easier trip chaining. Infrastructure that includes well lighted areas, wider bike lanes, access to areas open late night hours for people who work late hours, to name a couple examples. Creating an infrastructure that is for all transportation includes the cyclist that also work after hours when most transportation has shut down business for the day.
Natasha Dailey is a Rochester NY native, a wife and a mother of two handsome sons. With having multiple family members who passed away from diabetes and different forms of cancer, she decided to make sure she take more care of her health. Natasha says she decided to choose a healthier diet and more exercise so she would be able to “run with my grandchildren some day when my sons get married.”