Bike/Walk Tampa Bay (BWTB) aims to encourage more women to ride bicycles by helping address barriers specific to women, such as safety concerns and a lack of tailored resources. “We are dedicated to encouraging, supporting, and making bicycling accessible to women of all backgrounds,” said Julie Bond, BWTB program director. The Sunflower Bicycle Tour is one such strategy; BWTB also hosts a Tampa Bay Women Bicyclists community and, earlier this year, featured personal stories from 21 women bicyclists from around the region taking on 2021.
Leading up to the tour, BWTB and Bike Florida will host classes and training rides to help empower women by filling some experience gaps, like road safety and basic bike maintenance. The group of riders will also carry a safety proclamation to cities and counties they pass through, asking mayors and commissioners to commit to prioritizing bicycle safety in their respective communities.
“The Sunflower Bicycle Tour is very different than other tours we’ve hosted,” said Joy Hancock, executive director of the nonprofit, Bike Florida, which helps communities improve economic health, bicycle infrastructure, and safety through bicycle tourism. “The tour weaves together encouragement, camaraderie, and challenge for women bicyclists, while creating a safe and supportive environment to experience the beauty of our state by bicycle.”
Dajana Gibson was one of the first women to sign up for the tour. “Hearing we will carry a safety proclamation to city leaders along the way sealed the deal for me,” said Gibson. “As an avid cyclist, a wife and mom, a friend, and a professional engineer, I want every Floridian to help us achieve the goal of Vision Zero––no fatalities on our roads. This ride will put so many amazing things together in one event.”
The tour will lead women through the entire Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail, which spans more than 250 miles, with overnight stops in two host cities, Brooksville and Lake Mary. The name of the tour is derived from the beach sunflower, a hardy plant which grows only in Florida and requires an abundance of sun and salt to thrive.