Local event encourages women to take more active roles in cycling

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COLUMBIA - An American Bicyclist study conducted by the GluskinTownley Group suggests that more women are becoming involved cycling, but their numbers drop when it comes to the technical aspect of the sport. 

The study indicated that of the 26 million cyclists in the U.S. in 2014, 51 percent of them are now female. This surpassed the amount of male cyclists by over 2 percent. This total is up from last year where women only made up 48.6 percent of total adult bicyclists, compared to the 51.4 percent of adult males.

According to the study, the problem comes not with the amount of women cycling, but the amount of women taking an active role in the technical parts of the sport. On average, only 10.5 percent of females own a bike shop as opposed to 89.5 percent of males. The study suggests that although more women cycle, they are held back by a male-dominated field where they feel intimidated when it comes to knowing how to fix a bike. 

GetAbout Columbia hosted an all-female event Wednesday to encourage women to take a more active role in the sport. Female cyclist instructors and experts taught the women how to change a flat tire and use certain tools they may have felt uncomfortable using before.

Gina Overshiner taught the basic bike maintenence at the event because she feels that women shouldn't feel intimidated to enter a sport that seems male dominated in many aspects.

"We thought teaching women how to fix flats, which is the most common type of bike repair, would kind of help more women feel confident about getting out on bikes either for recreation or for exericise, or hopefully for commuting," she said. "So they don't feel like they have to rely on a boyfriend or a husband or somebody else." 

Dan Johnson bikes in his free time and often rides with women. He doesn't think they have a problem keeping up, and sometimes he believes they're better than him.

"I don't think women should feel intimidated to ride with men on bicycles. They may feel uncomfortable but I don't think there's any reason... that they can't compete and they can't feel comfortable riding with men," Johnson said. 

GetAbout Columbia hopes to increase the number of women participating in the tehnical aspects of cycling by having more events like this throughout the year.