August’s meet was decidedly bike-themed.
Dr Shelia Hanlon started off the evening with her a talk linked to her current exhibition at the Women’s Library, Cycling to Suffrage. Her talk centered on a book that was ground breaking in its time, Bicycling For Ladies, by M E Ward written in 1886.
Shelia described how the author, Mary Ward, was part of the cycling craze of the time and more importantly, part of the growing liberation and emancipation of women in the 19th Century. It was incredible to feel such a connection with the women back in 1886, who showed such a passion and strong will to move forward in a rigid society.
Shelia was a great speaker and her Q&A session after the talk was enlightening and left us all with a thirst for more.
So, the Borough Belles are organising a visit to The Women’s Library to visit the exhibition before it closes on 9 September. If you are interested, please get in touch by e-mail.
We stopped for a refreshing break of homemade baked goods and tea, and the stage was set for …
Jenny and Alicia of The London Bike Kitchen (LBK)
LBK is an open DIY workshop where you can work on your own bike instead of paying someone else. They have a full tool library, mechanics on hand to help and courses to build skills so that you can learn how to take care of your sweet two-wheeled machine. They also do courses and hold women + gender-variant nights, monthly rides and bicycle-related events (including the infamous Bicycle Bingo).
LBK aims to:
- Promote self-reliance and confidence through education
- Make cycling accessible and affordable
- Get more people from all backgrounds on bicycles
Jenny and ‘Lish started off their half of the evening with a bike quiz, getting us all to describe the different parts of a bike. It turns out that even though around 90% of us own bikes, none of us knew much at all about them, other than to just ride them (well that’s a good start!)!
At the beginning of the evening, the Belles had a general feeling of hopelessness and ineptitude at not being able to do things like change a tyre, or perform an M Check. But once Jenny and ‘Lish were finished with us, we left the meeting feeling pretty confident that we could maintain our own bikes. A lot of leaflets and flyers were eagerly picked up at the end of the meeting and I think, hope, that the LBK will be getting a few more ladies turning up at their drop-in bike work shop to learn skills!
LBK is located at 28 Whitmore Rd, London N1 5QA, near the canal on the border between Hoxton and De Beauvoir in Hackney.
“Really enjoyed it. Didn’t really think it would be my kind of thing so was very pleasantly surprised. Am inspired to get my (awful) bike out at the weekend and do an M-check (although am worried that I will find its got pretty much every problem going!)” BB Amelia
“I’m all inspired to go out and buy myself a bike now (second hand and horrible looking, so it doesn’t get nicked!).” BB Sally
So if you’re inspired, but a bit nervous about getting back in the saddle and out on the London streets, we suggest looking into the Breeze scheme.
And if you want to learn more about the impact the bicycle had on women’s lives, we highly recommend:
So dust off those bicycles, and see you in September!
And you can check out more photos of the meet here!