Trailnet Champion – Courtney Cushard
Courtney Cushard runs The Monthly Cycle, a St. Louis bicycling group for women and gender non-binary people. The nonprofit empowers women and non-binary St. Louisans to thrive in a space that is often made up of men. We asked Courtney a few questions about how The Monthly Cycle fosters an inclusive and accessible bicycling community for women and non-binary people. Keep reading for a Q&A between Trailnet and Courtney.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Can you tell us about The Monthly Cycle?
The Monthly Cycle is a cycling community for women and gender non-binary folks. We started in 2013 because in the city of St. Louis, there was not a group for only women to get together and do group bike rides. Group rides were and still are majority men, so for women in cycling, it’s nice to have a ladies-only space to ride together, try new routes, and learn by asking and through experience without the feeling the nervousness and pressure that can come with a male-dominated group. We have our flagship ride on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m., starting at Gelateria on south grand. We host social rides and events throughout the year like our upcoming Donut Ride on April 21. And we occasionally lead a fast ride, called The Quickie, and a slower ride for newbies, called the Light Flow. And, if you can’t tell by now, we love period puns and having a fun time on bikes.
We are a non-profit and our board of directors is making great strides in refining our annual programming, improving communications, and creating more partnerships in St. Louis. The current President is Aubrey Byron and VP is SJ Creek. I serve as the President Emeritus.
The mission of the Monthly Cycle is to foster an inclusive and more accessible bicycling community for women and non-binary St. Louisans.
We are committed to:
Helping more women and non-binary folks confidently ride bikes in a way that fits their needs and lifestyle;
Empowering women and non-binary folks to trust in the power of their own body as a form of transportation;
Increasing the number of women and non-binary people biking on the streets of STL;
Identifying and reducing the barriers women and non-binary people face while biking through encouragement, community, and advocacy;
Inclusivity across race, age, sexual identity, non-binary identify, socio-economic background, and fitness level.
What kind of impact would you say Monthly Cycle has had on St Louis?
Hopefully a positive one! We want to see more women on bikes, and every time I meet a new person at a ride, I feel happy that we are able to connect and support each other.
Can you paint a quick word picture of what it’s like to be on one of the rides?
It’s so fun, come try it! The type of ride depends on what we’re doing – Flagship, Quickie, Donut Ride, and Diva Cup are all different, but social, goofy, and welcoming!
How can other women get involved?
Start by coming to a ride! You can find all of our events on Facebook.
How did you discover Trailnet?
I used to work as an urban designer, so I learned about Trailnet through that work.
What are your thoughts on our Vision for a network of protected bikeways?
Having safer and more well-connected bike and pedestrian routes is paramount to improving sustainability and livability in St. Louis. St. Louis is slowly making improvements to our bike and pedestrian network, and planning and community engagement is a key component of that work. Getting the projects implemented is very important, so I hope that next step comes soon, with the support of our mayor, our bike and pedestrian coordinator, the streets department, our alderpeople, neighborhood associations, along with funding support from state and federal budgets.
What benefits do you see coming from having this sort of infrastructure in St. Louis?
There are countless benefits, but the main one I think is that this infrastructure gives people more choices about how to move around the city, from their school to their home and their job and the grocery store, etc. Building actual safe and convenient routes gives people more freedom to choose what works best for them and their family, instead of relying on cars or public transit 100 percent of the time. It’s proven that having safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improves community safety, livability, and the economy. We need to step up our game compared to other U.S. cities.
What’s your hometown?
Shelby Township Michigan, home of the original Jet’s Pizza!
Where do you currently live?
Fox Park, St. Louis City.
What do you do for work?
I am a study abroad coordinator.
At what age did you start biking? Why did you start biking?
Probably when I was 4 or 5, because it’s fun and my friends were doing it 🙂
What else do you do for fun? I race bikes, go camping, and we love having people over to our house to eat and drink and hang out.