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Profiles in Pedaling

Pretty Damned Fast Spotlight Swift and Stylish Women Riders

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Image by Chris Lee

From March to May — Women's History Month through Bike Month — Transportation Alternatives will highlight the entrepreneurs, athletes, activists and moms who are helping realize the bike's revolutionary power and growing the ranks of women on bikes, two wheels at a time.

For the third installment of the Women BikeNYC series, T.A. spoke with Anna Maria Diaz-Balart and Tayler Rae Dubé of Pretty Damned Fast: a collective of NYC-based ladies "covering women's cycling in all its forms," while making a stylish challenge to NYC's dude-dominated bike culture.

Read on for more and follow in Pretty Damned Fast's slipstream as they takeover T.A.'s Instagram feed from April 9th - 15th.


What got you "serious" about cycling?

AM: I bought a cruiser bike a few years back with a little basket for my dog T-Rex. Eight months later I was racing in Central Park. I did not see that one coming!

TD: I graduated from college in 2011 and moved back in with my family. Both my Dad and sister are competitive cyclists so it became a way to spend time with them and keep myself from getting bored. I became totally addicted immediately.

What inspired you to create Pretty Damned Fast?

AM: I work in fashion and love cycling. I wanted to create an outlet that covered women’s cycling in a curated way that felt true to my experience. Cycling changed my life, and I wanted a place for women to be able to share stories, get inspired and informed.

TD: I wanted to make a site that was totally relatable, contemporary and inspired by the incredible women we ride with.

As women cyclists, who inspires you?

TD: First and foremost, my sister. She encouraged me to get into the sport and it’s completely changed my life. I continue to be inspired by all the women I ride with each week.

AM: I'm inspired by moms on fully loaded cargo bikes, women who race bikes and anyone who commutes to work in the city for the very first time.

What advice would you offer women looking to make the jump from casual to competitive bicycling? 

AM: Bike racing is exhilarating, and nothing compares to the camaraderie and community of women’s racing in NYC. The CRCA Women's Clinic in the spring, as well as NYCC's SIG rides are the best places to start. And if you're looking for a group to ride with, Rapha and Bicycle Habitat have great programming for women.

TD: You cannot get the same experience from going out on a bike ride that you get from racing. The cycling community in NYC is also very supportive. No matter if you win the race or come in last place, someone will be there to congratulate you.

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PDF's aesthetic reflects its founders' work in the city's creative industries (images: Tayler Rae Dubé / Laura Wilson).

What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced as women on bikes in New York City?

AM: I was hit by a car while commuting to work. I was very lucky, but the truth is cyclists are still very vulnerable and the roads are still designed for cars and not for people who bike and walk.

TD: People in NYC are very competitive, and I think as a female cyclist, you are frequently seen as someone who needs to be “beat” on a bike. Even if I am just commuting to work, I always have dudes speeding up when I get behind them or getting mad if I pass them.

AM: Overall, I think the bar is too high. From my experience on the streets, in bike shops, even at races, cycling is too much fun to be so intimidating at the outset. We all still have so much work to do to get more women to ride.

If you could take a time machine fifteen years forward, what changes would you like to see on New York City streets?

TD: For cars not to be seen as the most elevated and important form of transportation. There is a stigma here that “real New Yorkers drive cars,” and I don’t think that is true anymore. It’s time for cycling infrastructure to be more thoughtfully created and law enforcement to start holding drivers who hit cyclists and pedestrians accountable. 

AM: I would love to see a New York where the streets have been designed to protect pedestrians and people on bikes, and drivers are held legally accountable for the people they hurt. I also want to see all those devoted stationary bike riders come outside, they are missing the very best part!

[Editor's note: take a moment to sign T.A.'s "Fix Our Streets!" petition now to help ensure funding to fix dangerous streets across the five boroughs.]

Devil’s advocate question: does the focus on style raise the barrier for entry by portraying bicycling as an expensive/exclusive activity?

AM: Style is all about personal choice. I think it lowers the barrier for entry, because you’re likely to ride a bike (and ride it often) if you look and feel good doing it. Cycling can be about getting from point A to point B, but it can also be an expression of your personal style.

What trends are on your radar?

AM: Levi’s just launched their women’s commuter collection. It’s a super functional line for cyclists, that looks incredible at a great price. I truly hope it inspires more women to bike to work.

TD: Colorful cycling kits making a comeback (even for us NYC cyclists who usually stick to neutrals).

Are you a T.A. member? 

AM: Absolutely! We’ve come along way, but there is still so much work to be done to make our streets safer and cities more livable. 

What are you excited about this spring?

AM: The Levi’s Commuter Launch Party this Thursday is going to be awesome. But overall its going to be a great summer for women riders, from Cyclofemme, to Rapha, to Bicycle Habitat everyone has got something good going on!

Will your employers be participating in Transportation Alternatives' Bike to Work Challenge [May 1st - 22nd]?

TD: They are not. I'm working on that though!

AM: I'm self employed, and yes! Every day is a bike to work challenge!

Visit Pretty Damned Fast and follow their takeover of T.A.'s Instagram feed from April 9th - 15th as part of the #WomenBikeNYC series.

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