Why Bike Safety is Still an Issue for Women in Toronto

New club aims to address sexism on two wheels.

Story by Vivienne Fairbank

This story was originally published on Torontoist

Women in Toronto explores the issues that women in the city face.

Claire McFarlane and Lavinia Tanzim of the Bad Girls Bike Club. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Two months ago, Claire McFarlane and Lavinia Tanzim were sitting in an empty bicycle store after-hours, waiting for participants who never showed up. It was the pair’s first run at hosting a bicycle club for young women in the city, and they had hoped some of the customers they’d spoken to over the past weeks would show up to their “information night.” But at 6:30 p.m., the store was empty.

“We were completely discouraged when that happened,” says McFarlane, who works alongside Tanzim as a sales associate for Sweet Pete’s bike shop. (Full disclosure: McFarlane is a former Torontoist contributor.) Their idea for the cycling club had arisen over drinks at a Christmas party a few months earlier. McFarlane and Tanzim bonded over their frustration at friends’ reluctance to bike in the city because it was “scary and unsafe.” But the two young women also shared a deeper connection: both have experienced a form of sexual assault within the past few years.

When it happened to McFarlane, she found she had no community to fall back to—she was dismayed to realize there was no support in her circles for someone like her. So, she and Tanzim decided to make a club that not only taught young women how to be confident bikers in the city, but could also serve as a support group for young women to “talk about who you are and who you want to be.”

Read more: Why Bike Safety is still an Issue for Women in Toronto.

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