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Women bikers seeks to address government failure in providing safety in public spaces

17 Oct

October 17, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Renee Davidson Communications Director Collective Action for Safe Spaces

Over 250 DC Women Expected to Participate in Grassroots Anti-Harassment Bike Event This Saturday, 10/19“19th Amendment Alleycat” will benefit local anti-street harassment group, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)
Washington, DC — This Saturday, October 19, over 250 women are expected to participate in “19th Amendment Alleycat,” or what might be the District’s first all-women alleycat. Organized by two women bikers who are active in the city’s cycling community, the grassroots event aims to help women feel comfortable and confident on the DC streets, especially when faced with public sexual harassment. The event offers a unique spin on alleycats, or “urban checkpoint races” which are similar to scavenger hunts and are traditionally dominated by men. Registration is $5 and benefits Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), a local grassroots group that works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.

Less about speed and more about strategy, the 19th Amendment Alleycat will include checkpoints throughout the city that center around events and locations related to DC’s role in the women’s rights movement. Participants will also be able to enter a raffle to win prizes from a range of sponsors. Male allies are encouraged to volunteer at check-points and join participants at the finish for a raffle (see raffle sponsors below) and an official after party.

“The 19th Amendment Alleycat aims to help raise awareness and foster dialogue about public sexual harassment, which is a widespread problem that severely limits women’s safety and restricts their mobility,” said CASS’s founder and executive director, Chai Shenoy. A study by CASS conducted this summer found that 90 percent of respondents report experiencing public sexual harassment in DC, including verbal harassment, leering, stalking and groping. “Since CASS was founded in 2009, we’ve received hundreds of stories of street harassment faced by DC residents, including by female bikers,” said Shenoy, pointing to stories of women being forced to change their bike routes to avoid sexual harassment, fearing sexual assaults along local bike trails and being stalked and dangerously harassed by strangers in cars. The event comes exactly one week after a similar all-women’s cycling event was held in Cairo, Egypt, in response to public sexual harassment.

In preparation for the DC alleycat, CASS collected stories of sexual harassment faced by women cyclists, as well as statements on how biking helps women feel empowered. At the same time that women cyclists often face street harassment, biking can be very empowering, and we look forward to women reclaiming the streets of DC this Saturday,” said Shenoy.

Sponsors and those donating items and raffle prizes to the 19th Amendment Alleycat include: Retail: All-City Cycle, Anhaica Bag Works, Ass Savers, Fabric Horse, Fiks:Reflective, Harlot Clothing Co., Knog, Kozie Prery, Oury Grips USA, Po Campo, Pure Fix Cycles, Road Runner Bags, Rockinoggins, Vaya Bags; Local Bike Shops: BicycleSPACE, CycleLife USA, Proteus Bicycles, The Bike Rack, Velocity Bicycle, Cooperative; Food and Bev: Honest Tea, KIND Bars; With support from: The Bike House, WABA Women & Bicycles.
The 19th Amendment Alleycat will begin at 2:00pm Saturday, October 19th, at Meridian Hill Park in NW DC. The event will last approximately two hours and will culminate with an official after party. Interested parties should RSVP on Facebook. More information can be found on CASS’s website:
Founded in 2009 as HollaBackDC!, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault. It does this through both online and offline activism, including workshops, innovative direct services, policy advocacy, and community outreach. Volunteer-led and -run, CASS utilizes the creativity and energy of the DC community to further its mission and vision. Follow CASS on Facebook and on Twitter.

Renee D. Davidson
Communications Director
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)

[t]  @SafeSpacesDC & @reneetheorizes

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