How to Grow the Bike Community: 3 Ideas from Gloria Liu
By: PeopleForBikes Staff
At PeopleForBikes, we believe we can all do more to grow the cycling community. We’ve been doing the work for nearly 20 years and we want to keep the momentum going. We’re committed to improving inclusiveness in our messaging, broadening the audiences we reach, and increasing our staff diversity. Join us as we learn from various voices in the cycling community. Together, we can turn what we learn into action. Follow our series on inclusiveness.
Gloria Liu, writer and editor-at-large for Bicycling Magazine, and champion of diversity, didn’t grow up thinking she’d one day charge down mountains racing enduro, or go speeding around tight corners in a crit race. But her love of snowboarding, nature, and speed served as the gateway to various forms of biking.
Liu approaches her writing with a diverse audience in mind. Her vision is an industry where everyone feels comfortable and welcomed — where going to a bike shop or on a ride is fun and engaging for all.
Three ways bike businesses can boost diversity
1. Representation matters: cast a wide net when hiring
“One of the biggest things an organization can do to promote diversity is hire a diverse staff,” Liu says, believing a more inclusive bike community makes us all stronger. Liu’s experience with Bicycling Magazine has shown her that people of color bring unique experiences and insights to any organization. “People of color are irreplaceable resources in helping an organization navigate the tricky nuances of representation,” Liu says, “so you do things the right way, and signal a good intention to your audience.”
Some might argue that a diverse staff can’t happen overnight, or is more difficult to achieve in certain parts of the country than others. Liu suggests that meaningful actions can still be taken. For example, she says that she wanted to do something for Black History Month this year. “So we did a post about awesome black cyclists who folks should follow on Instagram. It’s possible some people thought, ‘Oh, they’re just doing it because diversity is a buzz word.’ That wasn’t our intention, but a more cynical audience might think that.” Liu says the alternative is taking no action — not elevating people of color and allowing them to continue to be less visible. And that’s not acceptable. “So we did it, and we asked Ayesha McGowan to write it and pick her favorite black riders to spotlight, and it got a really great response. Basically, you can’t be afraid to do things and not contribute to this movement just because you think you might mess it up. If your intentions are good, it will come through.
2. Work relentlessly to be inclusive
Inclusiveness takes work. For a group that isn’t internally diverse, inclusiveness might seem forced at first. “Bicycling [Magazine] has long made it a priority. So when anyone has an idea for a story about a cyclist from an underrepresented group, everyone from edit to art rallies to make it look and feel really great. That’s huge and makes it sustainable and consistent.”
Liu says it might take a conscious effort at first. “It might feel like ‘checking a box.’ But if you keep making the effort, you will naturally open your eyes to more great stories from underrepresented groups.”
3. Share your best ideas
There is strength in sharing stories and making connections. Liu proved this at the recent Women’s Off-road Cycling Congress event in Boulder, CO, where she gave the keynote address to a packed room. Sharing her experiences with other women and those under-represented in the bicycling community is her way of connecting and passing on knowledge. It’s how she helps others get the most out of their equipment and their riding.