When WABA’s then-Outreach Coordinator and all-star Nelle Pierson started the Women & Bicycles program, it was just her and a group of spectacular women ready to change biking in the DC region. As Women & Bicycles grew, it gained its own dedicated staff-person, and several ranks of volunteers. Now, welcoming Facebook Admins keep the online group humming while skilled mentor Roll Models teach new skills to help newer riders gain confidence.
Today, Women & Bicycles is pleased to introduce to you the Women & Bicycles Steering Committee: eight women who are determined in leading the charge to make the DC region better for biking.
These women represent the entire area served by WABA: a variety of ages, life experiences, backgrounds, household set-ups, and bicycle types. What they have in common is a commitment to Women & Bicycles and a desire to help.
We formed the Steering Committee to guide Women & Bicycles into the next phase of its growth, and to some extent, figure out what that phase is. To start, they are working with the Coordinator (that’s me!) to establish consistent, dedicated funding for the program, build reliable and effective communications, and take on some special projects.
We couldn’t be happier about the Committee, and we hope you’ll join us in welcoming them!
Robin Butler-LeFrancois. Her bike: Jazz Latitude
I’m Robin, a Washingtonian living in Alexandria. In 2015, I decided spin class was not enough—it was time to go outside and ride, but I was terribly afraid of riding in the street. I took a four-day bike trip in the Finger Lakes in August 2015, riding streets, rolling hills, and steep downhills. The riding lovebug bit me! When I got back to town, I bought my sister’s friend’s vintage Jazz Latitude (at least 20 years old!) and just kept riding. Now (three years later), I just bought my fourth bike.
Once I joined WABA, I became educated on bike laws and DC Street. I ride to work about 3x a week from Alexandria and these days, the longer the ride the better. I also ride with Black Women Bike DC. I keep in mind that I’m an ambassador and try to be an example to other cyclists.
Aimee Custis. Her bike: Capital Bikeshare!
I’m Aimee! I’m the Deputy Director (fundraising, advocacy, and strategic communications) at the WABA ally, Coalition for Smarter Growth. (I’m a professional transit advocate.) I don’t own a bike, but I use my CaBi membership weekly and am in love with JUMP. I bike for transportation—I don’t think I’ve ever been on a for-fun bike ride. I’ve been a WABA member for 5 of the 10 years I’ve lived in DC. This is my first time doing more with WABA than just partnering on events through my job, or doing a random advocacy action or petition, or participating in the W&B Facebook page. I’m excited to get more involved!
Sophie Chan-Wood: Her bike: Gary Fisher Hybrid.
I’m Sophie from Rockville. I’ve lived in the Metro area for about 11 years now, and first learned about WABA on a Bike DC ride where the GW Parkway was closed to traffic. On a picnic ride with WABA, I met Nelle and we all talked about starting the Women and Bicycles program. I have a Gary Fisher hybrid that I love riding for transportation and recreation. I’ve even done a half-century on it once or twice! I volunteer on the Rockville BIke Advisory Committee with a goal of getting more butts on bikes and improving biking facilities in our city… and if they were ladies’ butts on bikes, that would even be more awesome! My goal with this steering committee is to build collaboration and support up through Montgomery County, MD.
Katie Giles-Bean. Her bike: CAAD 12.
I am a fitness enthusiast and entered the world of biking through training for my first triathlon in 2016. I had no prior experience riding and quickly found it enjoyable for fitness, transportation, and as a means to travel. I joined a women’s cycling team—Team Sticky Fingers—and have continued riding since then. As a member of the DC deaf community and a Gallaudet alumni, I love the inclusive space that the cycling community has formed. I am also vegan and live with my spouse and two cats, Parrot and Diablo. I look forward to helping WABA continue to work towards greater inclusivity for every person.
Megan Jones. Her favorite bike: an early 1960s Raleigh 3-speed. Has a Brooks saddle, a wooden rack on the back, and a basket for flowers, library books, and groceries.
I am Megan. Yup, Hains Point 100 Megan. I’ve been involved with W&B since before it was even official. I have four bikes plus I use CaBi. I have lived in Arlington for 20+ years. I race for Team Sticky Fingers, am Vice Chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a newly appointed board member for Phoenix Bikes. I need to find other hobbies beside bicycling, eh? I am Head of Strategic Product and Sales Analytics for a medical malpractice insurance company and have to travel a lot for work. I have no kids but I have a fish who likes having other fish for dinner…but they don’t stay long. I love racing, and getting more women riding comfortably and happily.
Laurie Lemieux. Her bike: Jamis Renegade Elite
I’m Laurie, a no-longer-practicing women’s health Nurse Practitioner, former nursing professor, current majority co-owner of Proteus Bicycles in College Park, MD, and (very proud to say) I was one of the first 10 Roll Models for W&B. I have about five bikes—it’s hard to find time to ride them all! I am an LCI (League Cycling Instructor) and I teach both for WABA and privately. I also do bike fittings which is so important for women. I have a doggy bike trailer for Ezzie the lab who will never graduate from Shop-Dog-In-Training. She has jackknifed me and my husband several times…she is on a trailer hiatus right now while we work on her trailer training! I have two kids, 32 (Paul – who is a mechanic at Proteus), and 27 (Annie, a trumpet player living in NYC). I’m especially passionate about helping women get on the right bike for them and their goals. As a Steering Committee member, I plan to help develop women’s partnerships for workshops in Prince George County.
Becky Puritz. Her favorite bike: Brompton S6L
I am a seven-year bicycle industry insider who lives in Alexandria and loves using my favorite Brompton S6L bike to commute to DC! I’m also a certified fitter, helping people of all shapes and sizes feel more comfortable on bikes. I’m excited to be working with the Steering Committee to find more ways to help more people be more comfortable riding a bike. I’m especially interested in the Women & Bicycles branding and communication strategies to help get a clear, concise message out to the many new riders we have yet to meet.
Elisabeth Sherwood. Her favorite bike: Pashley Princess
I have lived in Washington, DC since 1995, when I began riding my bike for recreation. When I began riding my bike to commute to the World Bank and errands in 2000, I discovered and joined WABA, thrilled to know there was an organization advocating for cyclists and safe cycling. WABA and all its staff appreciate the amazing power of the bicycle—for community, for the environment, for physical and mental health, and for all the other benefits people riding bicycles bring! I was one of the first people to join the Women & Bicycles program, so I’ve been here to watch this tiny program grow from a few dozen women to the thousands that now participate.