Bicycle Dialogues Transcripts: Denesha Snell

Hi my name is Denesha Snell. I’m 41, and I’ll be 42 in November.  I first started riding bikes about four years ago. I started riding at a time when I was looking at my health and how exercise could help my health.  I’ve also incorporated several different things along with riding- swimming, walking- but riding a bike is probably my first love.

I think riding a bike makes you really more confident in yourself, and I am pretty confident on the streets. Probably more so on my bike than I am in my car.  I ride with the STARS – Sisters That Are Riding Strong. The STARS – Sisters That Are Riding Strong is a group for women in the urban core that started about four years ago, and it started because we knew we did not see Black women on bikes. And so how do we work to get Black women on bikes, and that was the biggest thing.  There are a few of us around and you will see us around in our STARS shirts and we ride slow.

We started doing no drop rides and we ride as slow as we need to, or sometimes we ride as fast as we need to. But that was our initial offering, was that we will help you find a bike, if we have to find you a used bike and we will ride with you if it’s on a trail or if it’s out on the street.  Being able to hold people’s hands while they get started riding on a bike and to help people really become more confident. And so building those relationships has been fabulous.

It’s very important that we work to make people feel as comfortable as possible and then once people gain that confidence then they know that they are able to ride bikes. Especially for African-American women, where we may sometimes live in neighborhoods where we are not able to ride, or we don’t think we can, or we don’t look at it a as viable form of getting from one place or to another.  Start slow with people, hold their hands. It’s not a race. Everybody comes to us at a different place and we don’t all have to race and compete but we do have to form a community around each other.