Black Girls Do Bike: A Cycling Powerhouse

Black Girls Do Bike: A Cycling Powerhouse with Heart

Meet Monica Garrison, the founder and creator of Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) in Pennsylvania. Garrison has been an avid cyclist since she was a kid, and bikes have always made her feel invincible. One day after a summer of biking, Monica noticed that she had seen very few women of colour on the trails. When she went online to search images of Black female riders, she found only a couple photos featuring Black women cycling. Garrison decided to change this statistic. She was determined to convince fellow Black women in her city that cycling was for them too. In 2013, Garrison set up a Facebook group called Black Girls Do Bike- and the rest is history.

Monica Garrison, founder of Black Girls Do Bike. Photography: Sydney Garrison 

7 years and over 90 bike chapters later, Black Girls Do Bike is the winner of the League of American Bicyclists 2020 “Bike Club of the Year” award. Black Girls Do Bike has over 17,000 members across the United States. These accomplishments and their cycle clubs are a testament to what resilience, sisterhood, and mentorship can create.  

Bicycles have represented a source of freedom and autonomy for women since their inception. However, the default assumption of a “cyclist” being white (and male) persists in all aspects of the sport; from advertisements, technology, training, who gets to be a sponsored athlete, and even within bike share system advertisements meant to appeal to a diverse group of city riders. 

Assuming that the “default” cyclist is white is a persistent bias in cycling, based on centuries of sexism and anti-Black racism- and one way Monica Garrison makes sure that Black Girls Do Bike counters this bias is by sharing lots of photos of Black women on bikes celebrating cycling. Some photos on Black Girls Do Bike’s media section of the website show riders on fancy road bikes wearing matching cycling jerseys, and looking ready to compete. Other pictures capture women cycling on bike share bikes, dressed in casual clothes ready to enjoy a leisurely ride with friends. 

Incredible style in Pittsburgh. Photographer: Monica Garrison 


Using bike share on a casual ride in Pittsburgh. Photographer: Samone Riddle 

In addition to increasing the representation of Black women cyclists in media, Black Girls Do Bike provides a mentorship program to encourage new and established riders alike to ride together. Cyclists who realize they don’t have a chapter in their city can start one on their own for free as an enthusiastic ride organizer and leader, or “Shero”.

Today, there are over 140 Sheros in 90+ chapters. They plan routes, share their knowledge, spread the BGDB word, and encourage newer cyclists to join their group rides with their motto: “no rider left behind”. Sheros also educate riders on road safety, according to their respective city laws, and keep group ride energy and support levels high. 

Hitting the Trails in Detroit. Photographer: Jamila Maxey


The supercrew in NYC. Photographer: Monica Garrison

Black Girls Do Bike recruits and posts to thousands of followers via their Instagram and Twitter accounts, and they’ve set up a Strava club for over 1000 cyclists to challenge each other in a competitive and supportive environment. Once a rider finds their city’s group on the Website’s support page, they can join the smaller, local break out group to have one-on-one meaningful connections with other Sheros and riders. 

Black Girls Do Bike support their Sheros as leaders through a private community message board on their website. Sheros can bounce ideas back and forth between one another and offer guidance, so that no Shero ever has to feel isolated or overwhelmed in their respective cities.  In addition, video resources for cyclists are formatted and organized on the BGDB site, so Sheros can direct people to these to help answer riders’ questions. 


Shero Nia after completing the Trek 100 in Milwaukee. Photographer: Monica Garrison

Garrison started Black Girls Do Bike when she saw little representation of other Black women enjoying the freedom of cycling. Therefore, she has a passion to increase the presence of Black women in cycling media and to depict an accurate picture of what cycling looks like. BGDB has been featured in numerous podcasts, cycling magazines, and conferences.

When asked in an interview how she feels her organization is evolving in a year (2020) that centered fighting against anti-Black racism as a priority, Garrison responded: 

I feel like our mission was clear from the beginning and hasn’t changed. It does, however, feel like the cycling industry and more people around the world are more aware than ever before of the reason why groups like BGDB must exist. Our very existence calls attention to disparities in the cycling community that some folks could easily and might rather ignore. Our goal is not to divide but to meet womxn where they are and be a gateway into the beautiful, multi-faceted world of cycling.”

Through their advocacy, education, and cycling opportunities Black Girls Do Bike is a leader in creating a “beautiful [and] multi-faceted world of cycling”. White cyclists and white cycling groups need to be listening to and learning from this powerhouse organization, and doing their own, necessary work in dismantling anti-Black racism within cycling. 

The ERI can’t wait to see what Black Girls Do Bike does next. 

If you’ve been inspired by Black Girls Do Bike and the work they are doing to make cycling more Black woman-centric after over a century of under-representation, you can support them here.