Heleana Zambonino conducting a basic bicycling skills class at Sunday Streets in Guadalajara, Mexico, Sept. 2009.
In Guadalajara last September I met dozens of cycling activists from around Mexico, and one remarkable woman from Quito, Ecuador, Heleana Zambonino. While riding in a big Critical Mass in Guadalajara, she told me about the cycling scene in Quito, and her organization CiclóPolis. Her story left me inspired and a bit embarrassed. They’ve accomplished a great deal more in a half dozen years in Quito than we have in 20 years in San Francisco!
Art from one of a half dozen thriving bike activist groups in Quito, Ecuador, Andando en Bici Carajo. Chris Carlsson:
You work for CiclóPolis, yes? Can you describe the organization, its history, its mission, and your role in it?
Todas en Bici logo.Heleana Zambonino:
By the time I attended the 2nd Annual Mexican Cycling Congress in Guadalajara
I was working as Project Coordinator at the gender inclusion program “Todas en Bici” (TeB) supported by ICE (Interface for Cycling Expertise – The Netherlands) and as bike instructor for children and ladies. The aim of TeB project was to include women traditionally marginalized from access to bikes as a means of transportation. Also TeB builds a network of biking women who have tea and chat about their doubts when biking, also building self-confidence and awareness about the gender exclusion and harassment we women have to endure day by day while walking, biking, or using public transportation. (Unfortunately I was too busy as a grad student, so I sadly quit working for CiclóPolis.) CiclóPolis is about 7 years old; they work as a bridge between local government and residents taking back public spaces for family amusement from unhealthy traffic jams which grow geometrically each month in the city. They manage several bicycle advocacy projects as well the organization of the CicloPaseo de Quito, which is a conquest of citizens over automobile visual, environmental and spatial contamination.