Witnessing harassment on your bike outing but not sure what to do?
We, unfortunately, live in a society where sexual harassment and assault are looked at lightly. Whether you’re walking down the street, at work, or even at the grocery store, it seems like catcalling follows. When it comes to sexual harassment when biking, one can feel helpless. While you’re enjoying your daily ride, we hope that with these tips, you’ll be able to come out of a bad experience feeling empowered rather than put-down.
Remember, your safety comes first…
…you must do whatever it is that will help you feel safe. These tips have been gathered from research and personal experiences.
1. Respond to Your Harasser
This is not a must. If you do not feel comfortable confronting them, there is absolutely no need to do so. Though it may make us feel good to completely tear someone apart telling them off for what they have done, the best thing to do is respond in a calm manner. Let them know that what they’ve done is wrong by being calm, collected, informative, and firm. “Your actions make people like me feel unsafe.”
2. Stay Alert
While it is important to stay alert at all times, it’s especially important to stay alert during a moment of harassment. You may be taken off guard, but pay close attention to everything about your harasser. If they’re in a car, what’s the license plate number? If they’re biking, what color is the bike? What are they wearing? These details can help you describe the harasser when you report them. Staying alert can also aid in your escape if you want or need to remove yourself from a situation.
3. Report It
There is nothing wrong with reporting harassment to the local authorities–it is their job to keep people safe. Issues that are reported and logged have the potential to result in public safety improvements. If you are put in a position where you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, call the police and describe the perpetrator to them. It may not seem like you’re doing much, but who knows, your story could help in a situation like this.
4. Step In
If you see someone else being harassed, step in! Whether you blatantly tell the harasser to stop, or using the fake friend tactic–pretending that you know the harassee and just step in and start talking to them, or checking in on the harassee afterwards to make sure they’re okay–there’s nothing better than powerful women joining together and helping each other out. Men, we urge you to step in, too!
5. Travel In Packs
When you can, biking in a group tends to be a safer form of travel. Get together with some of your gal pals and plan a time you’re all available to ride!
Biking should be a positive activity to be enjoyed by all. We cannot let harassment affect the thing we love most. Remembering these helpful tips could help you address fears with confidence and candor if you come to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.
Have some tips of your own you’d like to share?
Did you know that sharing your positive stories of biking increases ridership? The more bicyclists we have on the streets, the safer we all are.
Join us on Saturday, April 7th for the 5th Annual Women & Biking Forum presented by Dollar Bank. One of our workshops features storytelling and you might just love it!
A message from BikePGH’s BikePGH Membership and Outreach Director
“From the cycling industry to the streets, women are navigating through spaces that are dominated by men. The Women & Biking Forum aims to build power, knowledge, and support among women and non-binary people for a better biking community.”
– Jane RunyanRegister for The Forum
The Women & Biking Program works to encourage womxn, femme, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people to incorporate bicycling into their lives and increase their representation in the community. By opening the discussion about our lived experiences and challenges, we can assess how to better provide support and resources to ride bikes in Pittsburgh.