Empowering Women, One Bicycle at a Time

-Guest writer Emily Boyce is a big fan of grrls on bikes

Jett Grrl Bike Studio is Commercial Drive’s newest bike shop – and Vancouver’s only lesbian owned and operated one. Jett Grrl was started in the summer of 2005 by Tracy A. Myerson, a certified bicycle mechanic, whose mission is “to make the world a friendlier and more equitable place for women cyclists”. She started it as a reaction against a male-dominated, profit driven industry.

“Who you are walking into a shop determines what type of service you will get.” Myerson says. “Women are automatically assumed to know nothing about how a bicycle works, given that mechanics is an historically male dominated subject. As such, we are often treated with some degree of condescension, kept in the dark about what is being done, sold parts we don’t really need, and generally getting second rate service. Layer onto that being a visibly queer gender-bending dyke. I think we all know where that is going to get us!”

As if that is all not enough, add to that what type of bike you are riding – walk into a shop with an old or inexpensive bike, and you can be sure you will NOT get the same attention as someone with some fancy bling bling machine. Then there is the next question – are you a “roadie” , or a “free-ride dude”, do you have a “fixie” or a “cruiser bike”? WHO CARES!

“The bike world has so much “Attitude”, it’s ridiculous. Most people have 2 wheels, with a seat to sit on, handlebars to steer, and pedals to make it go. The bicycle is one of the most amazing inventions of all time. It affords people – for very little money – a HUGE amount of freedom to move thru the world. They make no impact on this planet, are great for your health, and are relatively simple to maintain.”

Myerson founded Jett Grrl to be different from all that. While Jett Grrl is a full service repair shop, Myerson’s first love is teaching. She runs a series of bike repair workshops for women, aimed at educating – and empowering – women on their bicycles. As we all know, knowledge is power. Myerson feels that even if you don’t actually want to do the repairs yourself, at least you should be armed with enough information to walk into a shop and feel confident about what you do need. “It leaves us far less susceptible to be taken advantage of.” she notes.

Information on Jett Grrl bike studio’s classes and services is available at
http://www.jetgrrl.com, or by phone at 604-255-5097.