Influencer: Meet Allyson McCalla

This Newport cyclist is on a mission to show that Black Girls Do Bike in Rhode Island

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Why was it important for you to start a Rhode Island chapter of Black Girls Do Bike?

It’s important to see a community that represents all individuals. In the community where I ride the most, I didn’t see any riders who were a representation of myself, and I knew there were other women of color out there who had the same outlook. Instead of being discouraged, I decided to start the Newport chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. My hope is to motivate other women of color to get out and ride, and to inspire others to start a chapter of Black Girls Do Bike in their cities or towns.

Tell us about your first bike.

My first two-wheel bike was a hand-me-down from my older sister. It was a white, red, and pink Strawberry Shortcake bike with a banana seat. At six years old, I remember teaching myself how to ride it in the hallway of our home using the walls to keep my balance. Once I was confident enough, you couldn’t get me off my bike. Apart from my feet, my bike was my only mode of transportation, and I rode it everywhere!

Can you give advice to those who may want to bike but are not sure where to start?

My advice is to start by learning the rules of the road in your city or town. Secondly, find a bike that suits your needs. Have conversations with other riders to build awareness and confidence. Go on brief rides around the neighborhood, on a bike path, or somewhere you feel safe. Lastly, I can’t stress enough the importance of bicycle safety precautions: I always recommend wearing high-visibility clothing and a helmet – both can be a lifesaver.

Where are some of your favorite bike shops around the state?

Although Bike Newport is not a bike shop, but rather an advocacy and education organization, it’s my favorite! Individuals can have their bike repaired by a mechanic, work one-on-one with an educator to learn how to fix their bike, adopt a bike, earn a bike, and rent a bike.

Where are your favorite places to ride?

My favorite places to ride are around Newport’s Ocean Loop, from Bristol to Providence on the East Bay Bike Path (I enjoy taking the Seastreak ferry back to Newport), the Blackstone River Bikeway, and of course, anywhere with my people who ride with the Newport chapter of Black Girls Do Bike! Learn more  at BikeNewportRI.org

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