by Dulce Pedroso

For a woman of colour, cycling can mean a double cloak of invisibility. Her experience is already often erased in society, which privileges whiteness and maleness, and she is not seen in cycling representations, which has tended to peddle narrow narratives about cycling and cyclists. If you already experience othering because of your gender and race, the decision to cycle in a car dominant culture may seem like choosing to be further marginalised.

A woman cycling is superimposed on a city background, with a ribbon of a route showing her navigating over a bridge, and around queues of stationary traffic. As she leaps a building, a bird asks 'Is she even aerodynamic?'
Image: Dulce Pedroso

The ‘Still I Ride – How Women of Colour are challenging discourses in and through cycling’ applies a critical discourse analysis lens into representation, gender and race in cycling. The mobile interviews conducted with nine women focused on representations of cyclists as well as on how material things – gear and kit, for example – and activities – such as training trips to Mallorca  – reinforce dominant discourses in cycling and how these entangle with discourses around gender and race. The project uncovers how gender in cycling is often experienced in  fairly material and practical terms (when and how you cycle and what kit and gear is available or considered appropriate), race and ethnicity-based exclusion may manifest in a feeling of not belonging (based on who you are). When the two compound with the dominant cycling culture, this can lead to discursive exclusion encapsulated in the comment Shu, a road cyclist in London, received from a white male cyclist: “is your hijab even aerodynamic?”

The project borrows from cultural, intersectional and black feminist theories to account for different ways women of colour, as an underrepresented group in cycling, experience, negotiate and challenge dominant discourses. The interviews were produced into podcast episodes, which are available to listen on the Active Travel podcast.

More information: see Dulce’s blog post which also links to podcast episode 1 and episode 2 about her research.

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