Ann DeOtte Kaufman

Ann DeOtte Kaufman

Founded by Ann DeOtte Kaufman, Iva Jean provides products and resources that inspire women to incorporate biking into their everyday lives. We launched our first product, the Rain Cape, in fall of 2011. An expanded line will be available spring 2013. Iva Jean products are designed and made in Seattle, WA and available to customers online and in retail locations across the country.

Articles by Ann:

Ladies Roll at 2013 National Women’s Bicycling Forum

Energy. Action. Gear. Business. Politics. Networking. All were on display at the 2nd annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum in Washington, DC this March.

I first heard about the National Women’s Bicycling Forum (NWBF) last October during a coffee date with Susi Wunsch from VeloJoy. She attended their first gathering in 2012 and had great things to say about the event. So when registration opened for 2013, I signed up right away.

Group ride in Washington, DC kicks off the 2013 National Women's Bicycling Forum, sponsored by Black Women Bike DC

Group ride hosted by Black Women Bike DC kicks off the 2013 National Women’s Bicycling Forum

NWBF preceded the National Bike Summit with the theme of “Women Mean Business.” The forum was an exciting combination of women leaders, advocates, entrepreneurs and industry experts focusing on growing the impact of women in bicycling.

Biking Entertainment

Ladies gathered the night before the event to pedal with Black Women Bike DC and enjoy a launch party with Washington Area Bicyclist Association. There was great energy at the party with old friends catching up, long distance (online) friends meeting for the first time and speakers such as Elly Blue and NWBF organizer Carolyn Szczepanski. During the forum, attendees snapped portraits at a photobooth, browsed vendors in the Women Bike Pop-up Shop and the NYC Bike Dancers surprised us all with a performance.

New York City bike dancers entertain attendees between sessions on business, politics and social aspects of women biking

New York City bike dancers entertain attendees between sessions on business, politics and social aspects of women biking

Nuts and Bolts and Tips to Inspire More Bicycling Women

  • Closing the gender gap: The first break-out sessions for the day included a great mix of advocacy, community, retail and industry perspectives—I really wish I could have attended them all. I attended the Insight from the Industry: 3 Keys to Closing the Gender Gap session with speakers from Gazelle Imports, REI, Giant Bikes and Advanced Sport International. The conversation got a bit heated, but pushed forward the need for the bike industry and retailers to start paying more attention to women—from race enthusiasts to commuters to lifestyle riders.
  • Rides and retail for women: More break-out sessions included From Road Block to Gateway: Rides and Races that Engage More Women (covering social aspects of riding—making rides and races a key way to engage more women). I attended Bike Shop Barrier: Making Bike Retail More Welcoming to Women with owners of Pedal Chic, Clever Cycles, West Town Bikes and Huckleberry Bicycles. As a designer selling in various retail spaces, I was really interested to hear what these shops are doing to draw more women. We heard a lot about friendly customer service, thoughtful merchandising and a safe environment to ask questions.

Biking Pioneers, Women Leaders and Innovators

  • Industry pioneer Georgena Terry and owner of Sweet Pea Bikes, Natalie Ramsland were inspiring and full of laughs, discussing everything from steel frames fit for women to the politics of wheel size.
  • US Representative Duckworth used bicycling to recover from war injury: Our lunch keynote speaker was the ever-inspiring Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, first Asian-American congresswoman from Illinois and first disabled woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives. Duckworth spoke about equity, recovery and determination. She lost both legs and damaged her right arm during the Iraq War when the helicopter she piloted was shot down in 2004. She found hand-crank bicycling to be a powerful part of her recovery.
    • NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan received a standing ovation before her keynote speech. Sadik-Khan’s work has made New York City a leader in bicycle infrastructure and advocacy. (NYC is ranked 9th most bikeable US city by Walk Score via Bike Score.) She emphasized the positive economic impact on businesses near new bicycling infrastructure. An amazing speaker, Sadik-Khan offered a tip to NYC visitors: “If you stop for a minute in Brooklyn, someone is going to chain a bike to you.”

The event left me inspired, energized and with new friends that share the same passion—getting more women on two wheels every day.

Photos: Brian Palmer

Women Biking Resources, Rides, Reads

Guest post by Ann DeOtte Kaufman, founder of female bike fashion company Iva Jean

While only 24% of all bicycle trips in America are made by women, there are a large number of women who are anxious to get started or that want to fit even more biking into their lives. If this is you, there are plenty of events and resources at your disposal—from books and blogs to all-women rides and community organizations.

Books on Women Biking

The first thing I would do is order Elly Blue’s Everyday Bicycling: How to Ride a Bike for Transportation, a comprehensive look at street smarts, bike shopping, dressing professionally, and carrying groceries and children. Other great reads include Women on Wheels by April Streeter and Heels on Wheels: A Lady’s Guide to Owning and Riding a Bike by Katie Dailey. These books may provide you with the tips and tools that allow you to bike more often and to more destinations.

Women-Only Biking Events & Organizations

We’re also seeing more women’s bike organizations pop up across the nation.

  • April Streeter started the Portland-based Women on Wheels all-inclusive group that hosts rides, workshops and social events on biking.
  • We Bike NYC is an all-women and trans organization that was started to provide a safe space for women to ride together regardless of skill, speed and riding style.
  • Washington Area Bicyclist Association is starting Women & Bicycles this spring, an outreach and education program geared to get more women on bikes.
  • To encourage the momentum of women in biking, the League of American Bicyclists formed Women Bike, a national advocacy program. I will be attending their second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum, on March 4, 2013 in Washington, DC to discuss how we continue this growth and support more women biking.

Online Resources

The women’s bicycling community is also growing online. Cycle and Style has a great list of women only rides across the nation as well as gear and book reviews. Girl Bike Love also provides personal experiences, technical information and gear reviews with a focus on women’s needs. Both of these sites speak to casual and sport cyclists—creating a comprehensive resource for women. VeloJoy and Lovely Bicycle are also great resources for women looking to get inspired to bike. New York-based VeloJoy is an online resource for city cyclists covering fashion, advocacy, gear reviews, culture and more while Lovely Bicycle focuses more on bike and bike gear reviews as well as her adventures in bike building.

Photo: Women Bike

5 Barriers to Women Bicycling More

by Ann DeOtte Kaufman, founder of female bike fashion company Iva Jean

I started biking to work after giving up my car in 2007. I lived just 2 miles from my office, the bus commute was pretty painful, and I knew biking would be the fastest, easiest and healthiest way to commute. The switch was intimidating, but I quickly fell in love with biking and all of the hassles or inconveniences faded.

Biking tips and insights from Walk ScoreHere are 5 barriers that prevent women from comfortably biking to work—and solutions to each one. I encourage all of you to break through barriers and enjoy cycling.

Barrier #1: Avoiding Risk

Safety often comes up as a top barrier to women biking to work. I believe that fear prevents a lot of people from biking, including men and older demographics, as well as women. These concerns include a lack of safe cycle infrastructure such as separated bike lanes and cycletracks; traffic and vehicular fears; personal safety fears; and topography (especially in cities like Seattle).

“Women are considered an ‘indicator species’ for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines…have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding.” Scientific American

Solutions

  • Learn your rights and responsibilities as a biker.
  • Take the lane when you feel comfortable.
  • Ride with a friend or experienced biker.
  • Study your city’s bike maps to be familiar with the existing infrastructure and easiest routes.

Barrier #2: Time

Time is a precious thing for many commuters, including women. With several reports showing that employed women devote more time to household duties and caregiving than their employed male counterparts, time could be an even bigger barrier for women. In turn, when biking is the fastest and easiest way to work, you’ll find more women on wheels.

Solutions

  • Bus or drive halfway to work with your bike to save time.
  • Work with your partner to relieve you of your regular duties once or twice a week.

Barrier #3: Convenience

It also seems that convenience comes up quite a bit regarding women biking to work. Many women attach errands to their commute. Whether it’s groceries, dry cleaning or picking up the kids from daycare – it’s just not clear how all of that can get done by bike.

“… ‘comfort’ and ‘needing a car’ were important factors influencing women’s cycling rates—but not men’s. Needing a car is likely tied to the household errands women often perform and could be addressed in part by outreach programs showing that women can ‘jump on a bike the way they jump in a car.'” Scientific American

Solutions

Iva Jean bicycling functional fashion for womenBarrier #4: Vanity

Let’s be totally honest. No one (men included) wants to sit at work feeling sweaty and nasty like they just got off the set of Game of Thrones. Even if your office provides facilities such as locker rooms or showers for employees, the idea of getting ready at work is of little interest to many women. This concern often rises from a misconception that you need to wear head-to-toe spandex and ride hard on your way to the office.

Solutions

  • Ride slowly.
  • Bike in your everyday clothes or clothing designed to work on and off your bike (such as Iva Jean, Outlier, Nau).
  • Create a small bag of things you need to freshen up once you’re at the office (lip gloss, dry shampoo, pressed power, brush or comb).

Barrier #5: Community

Trying something new and unfamiliar, especially as we get older, can be difficult. Women are the minority of bike commuters in most cities, and from my observations, casual women riders are an even smaller demographic. In America, 24% of all bicycle trips are made by women vs. 76% by men (US DOT 2010). Perhaps, more of us would bike if we saw and aspired to a supportive community of riders that looked like us.

Solutions

  • Search online for organizations or rides for women that bike (there are so many across the country).
  • Ask a friend or coworker to show you the ropes and ride your commute with you once or twice.

As you consider biking, please know that a little bit of fearlessness and flexibility can lead to an incredible sense of joy and freedom on two wheels.

Photo: Cycle Chic Australia