The potential for change has never been greater.

As a child growing up in Brooklyn, I didn’t see many Black girls riding a bicycle. It wasn’t until a neighbor passed down a bicycle to me that I started to learn. I still carry the bruise I got from my first time riding -and falling from- a bike as a badge of honor. However, my mother was concerned about her little girl riding a bike around New York City, so she gave the bike away. Decades later I re-learned how to ride a bike as a fully adult woman, after growing an appetite for leaving New York City and exploring the ancient cities of Europe. In the process, I ended up rediscovering my city and seeing it from a new light. I decided to cut my Metrocard and begin to commute everywhere by bike, learning the routes, map distances and self-reliance on the road. 

These experiences inspired me to become a bike instructor. I wanted to spread the joy of biking, so I obtained a League Cycling Instructors (LCIs) Certification by the League of American Bicyclists and I have taught hundreds of people how to ride a bike since. It sparks joy in my heart each time someone gets “the Aha! moment”. When they find their balance and begin pedaling in circles, the possibilities are endless. Not everyone learns to ride on their first try but the determination to learn will lead everyone to the “Aha! moment”. That is why I encourage people to learn to ride in their own style and speed and to choose the bike that best suits their needs. There’s a bicycle out there for EVERYONE!

My ideal New York City is a city in which everyone knows how to ride a bike and has the option to bike as a primary means of transportation. There are three main challenges that the city faces for biking to become more attractive to every New Yorker: road safety, navigability and accessibility. 

Despite efforts to increase bike lanes, New York City lags other major cities in the world when it comes to bike safety. Bike lanes are poorly connected, they are unevenly distributed across the city, lack sturdy protective delineations to guard from traffic and are often interrupted by parked cars, trucks and even flat metal plates that are used as ground coverage during construction and which can be dangerous during wet weather conditions. This can make a simple ride around the city seem more like an obstacle course. 

To remedy this, the city should create an independent advisory board to audit all biking infrastructure and advise on current and proposed projects to improve the infrastructure that is already in place and make sure that any future developments are safe and take into consideration the volume and flow of bikers at any given time. The city should involve the cycling community in these discussions so that the biking infrastructure reflects the needs of its users. Data should be collected and made available to the public to measure the success of new infrastructure and policies. Additionally, the city should invest in biking education to ensure that bikers are aware of biking rules and have the tools to ride safely.

Judi Desire

Uptown & Boogie Founder

Judi never truly knew her city until 2010 when she learned to ride a bicycle the old fashion way, by holding the back of a saddle, as an adult. In 2012, she sold her used car to purchase her first bicycle and immersed herself into the cycling culture of New York City. In 2014, she felt such a sense of freedom whenever she explored the city that she took a bike mechanic course at United Bicycle Institute Bicycle Mechanics School in Portland, Oregon. Between 2013-2017, Judi solo bike toured through North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. I carried all of my belongings in two panniers on my bike.

In September 2017, her passion for cycling inspired her to launch Uptown & Boogie Bicycle Advocacy, an organization that provides cyclist-based social activities to the Upper Manhattan and the Bronx communities. The goal is to provide New Yorkers with a greater and better understanding of commuting and traveling throughout the city while raising awareness on the health benefits of cycling.

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