Veronica Davis traces the inspiration for her all-female, African American bike club to a morning in 2011 when she pedaled past a public housing project in Southeast Washington, D.C. Co-owner of an environmental-sustainability consulting firm called Nspiregreen, Davis was taking a shortcut on her daily bike commute when she overheard a young black girl shouting to her mother, "Mommy, mommy, it's a black lady on a bike!"
"At first, I didn’t understand why she was so excited," says Davis. The 34-year-old civil engineer had started bike commuting about a year earlier, shortly after launching her business, partly to save money as the start-up got off the ground. “And then later, thinking about it, I realized I was probably the first cyclist riding down her street that looked like her.”
That experience led to a conversation among friends, which led to a Facebook group, Black Women Bike D.C., which exploded after a story in the Washington Post. Davis says she knew more African American women were bicycling in the District of Columbia -- “I saw them” -- but sensed they weren't linked together in any type of community.
Her vision for the group was simple: to broaden the idea of who is a bicyclist to include more than just Lycra-clad weekend warriors in 20 miles-per-hour pacelines, and encourage black women and girls to ride their bikes for fun, health, wellness, and transportation. Today, more than 1,100 strong, Black Women Bike D.C. is more than just a cycling club, Davis says. It’s “a movement.”