February 4, 2019
Jalonda Hill is the founder of Colored Girls Bike Too, an all-weather bicycle commuter, and a bicycle advocate. She was nominated for GObike's 2018 Cyclist of the Year.
Jalonda's journey to becoming a bicycle commuter started with a tragic experience. Using a motorized vehicle became a source of stress and anxiety for her, so she began to explore different options to navigate around town. Not only did bicycle commuting provide this alternative mode of transportation, she also regained a sense of empowerment and happiness. She has now been a dedicated bicycle commuter for two years and has left a lifelong impact on the buffalo cycling community.
What is Colored Girls Bike Too and what made you want to start it?
"Colored Girls Bike Too (CGBT) seeks to use bike commuting as a tool to empower all those who identify as black women and women of color (WOC). This includes all those who identify as black women and other WOC within the LGBTQ spectrum and gender non-conforming folks of color. Additionally, CGBT strives to encourage the use of bike commuting as an alternative to traditional modes of transportation, while simultaneously normalizing and detaching stigma from bike riding in the black community in general. I started CGBT in 2017 after I noticed a shortage of black women in the Buffalo bike community, and because I was in search of a community of bike commuters with similar experiences as me. After much research, I realized there were no intentional spaces for black women who bike in Buffalo. For those reasons, I created a community where black women could connect with each other, gain support, knowledge, and empowerment."
Where is your favorite place to ride in Buffalo?
"I enjoy riding along East Utica St. because of the supportive community there. Although, I must stress that initially riding along this route was difficult because of the reactions of some of the residents. However, now that I frequent this street much more, people recognize me and are more supportive. I like to think that my commitment to riding on the East side of Buffalo is starting to de-stigmatize bike riding generally within the black community, while simultaneously normalizing bike commuting for all those who identify as black women in this community. I also enjoy riding down Linwood — this route is very scenic and there is bike infrastructure in place. A win, win!"
What is your #1 tip for riding your bicycle in the winter?
"I would say to go multi-modal or, if you would like to bike the entire way to your destination, make stops along the way to keep warm. An optional tip: to make the ride more pleasurable, I advise you to purchase a speaker to play music. Music always keep me motivated and inspired during my winter bike commutes!"
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into commuting?
"I would start slow, research, experiment and have FUN! I would also say ignore the haters — there will always be haters. Write down why you value bike commuting and consider the pros and cons. Once you write those thoughts down, refer to them every time you feel discouraged."
For more information on how to get involved with Jalonda and CGBT, visit the Colored Girls Bike Too Facebook page or their Instagram: @coloredgirlsbiketoo.