The bicycle scene in San Antonio has been taking off for some time now. Local cyclist and mechanical engineer Betsy Farris set out to get more women on the streets with Women's Wrench Night, a group of female cyclists who organize bicycle repair classes and rides. What started off as just a couple of friends wrenching throughout the night has transformed into a gathering of about 30 women of all ages with diverse backgrounds. Tonight's location was at Bike World's closest shop to downtown, located at The Pearl Brewery. Farris taught the group of women how to fix the most common and possibly the most annoying of all issues with bicycles – the dreaded flat.
Not only did the event teach women how to repair a flat, but it also encouraged them to ride with helmets – which are donated to those who don't own one. Once the event was over, the group hopped on their bikes for a neighborhood ride.
I spoke with Betsy about how this idea came to fruition.
"I came from a really bike friendly city. I moved from Fort Collins, Colorado, where there was a waiting list to volunteer at the bike co-op there. I'm a mechanical engineer and everyday I'm working in an environment that's male-dominated so I've been talking with my friends about issues working with men – just the subtleties that only women get," she said.
Betsy is a board member with local bicycle do-gooders Earn-a Bike Co-op. Founder Christian Sandoval gave Betsy free rein to make an event happen.
"I wanted it to make it really general so that anybody could show up because there's such a wide variety of bike options. I didn't want it to be for racers, I didn't want it for commuters, I wanted it for everybody," she said.
I asked Betsy about what she sees in the future of Women's Wrench Night.
"So, right now, we are really trying to get our name out there. We are trying to partner with people, we are trying to get funding with all of this outreach. I want the people who are involved with it to be the ones driving it," she said. "It doesn't have to be led by two people, it doesn't have to be sponsored by anybody. I want it to be an organic group of women that are spreading the word and getting people out to these events."
I followed up with a question about her thoughts on the current lack of sponsorship for San Antonio B-Cycle.
"If we had to organize this every month and support it every month I think it would be really, really hard and not sustainable. I think it's unfortunate that B-Cycle doesn't have support. People have interest and it's doable downtown," she said. "It's not only for tourists, but it's for business people. Parking's a nightmare, and people are going to want to be downtown and they're not going to want to drive."
*Featured/top image: Edith Lopez Estrada demonstrates how to repair a flat during the third Women's Wrench Night at Bike World. Photo by Scott Ball.