Stephanie Rogers said she has been talked down to before by salesmen while trying to buy cycling gear.
“Shopping for gear for winter biking, I’ve had salesmen tell me like, ‘Oh, I just grow a beard, so I don’t have to wear a balaclava or whatever,’” Rogers said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, well, that’s not really helpful for me, because I can’t grow a beard.’”
Rogers, a graduate student working toward her MFA in photography at the Tyler School of Art, said encounters like this are a result of the male-dominated cycling world.
“There’s a lot of macho attitude related to cycling,” Rogers added.
To create a safe haven from these attitudes, Rogers began facilitating workshops through WTF Cycles, a bike co-operative for women, transgender and femme cyclists, as part of her independent study to receive a certificate in community arts practices. WTF Cycles holds workshops on the second Sunday of every month. The second workshop was held last Sunday in Room 104 of the Architecture Building.
WTF Cycles is only one section of co-operative programing run through Cycles, a bike shop recently opened just northwest of Main Campus in mid-January by Jacob Kenney, a 2015 architecture alumnus.
Before Cycles opened, the space at 1426 W. Susquehanna Ave. was occupied by Neighborhood Bike Works, a chain of cycling-centric nonprofits.
Geena Cain, a bike mechanic and program facilitator at Neighborhood Bike Works in West Philadelphia, used to work at the Susquehanna Avenue location before the space became Cycles. Cain co-facilitates the WTF Cycles workshops with Rogers.
“I really like the idea of empowering people who are not cisgender ‘bros’ to be thrilled about cycling, as not only a pastime, but as a valid means of transport,” Cain said.
Cain, who identifies as transgender, has facilitated other WTF events in the past and said WTF programming has been “big in large cities with a radical population” across the country.
Cain added that co-operative programming like WTF Cycles, which provides free tools for cyclists to use and a space for them to work on their bikes, is especially important in the North Philadelphia area.
“This is like the only bike shop for 10 blocks in every direction,” they said.
While all WTF Cycles workshops have been held at Temple thus far, Cain said the next workshop, which will occur on March 13 from 3 to 6 p.m. and will be held at Cycles.
Rogers hopes Cycles will serve as a space to bring students and community members together.
“I would like to create more avenues for Temple students to connect to the rest of the community,” Rogers said. “I feel like there’s a lot of unnecessary fear that comes about.”
Rogers also said she believes many of the students at Temple who bike could really use the assistance.
“There’s a lot of bikes that I see around Main Campus that could be maintained better, where really easy things would really affect the quality of somebody’s ability to use the bicycle,” Rogers said.
“The department of sustainability bought five Dero Fixit stands over the summer and they’re awesome,” Rogers added. “It’s this amazing resource for Temple students, but when I walk by I see a lot of people not knowing how to use them.”
At the first WTF Cycles workshop, Cain and Rogers helped attendees loop their chains, true wheels and adjust seatposts to fit their bodies.
“It was really neat because there was this cascading effect,” Cain said. “I would teach somebody something, and then they would be able to immediately turn around and teach somebody else how to do it.”
Reed Forden, who attended Temple from 2012 to 2015 and studied English and film, participated in the first workshop.
“I went there because my shifters were giving me issues,” Forden said. “And also my brakes needed tightening, which is a really basic maintenance thing, but I didn’t know how to do it, so I learned how to do both of those things with cool tools that I pretty much remember.”
Forden, who identifies as genderqueer, said they felt welcomed from the minute they walked in the door, and as a result, decided to become a volunteer for the rest of the WTF Cycles workshops.
“People were super friendly,” they said. “Immediately someone’s like there, and they’re saying, ‘Hey,’ and they’re asking you about your pronouns and how your day was.”
“It’s just very nice. ”
Jenny Roberts can be reached at email@example.com.