Cycling with Carishinas en Bici: Gendered perceptions of cycling under the COVID-19 pandemic in Quito, Ecuador

Authors: Julie Gamble*, Trinity College
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: cycling, safety, care, bike lanes, gender
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

At a critical moment when many governments seek solutions for cities under siege due to a global pandemic, bicycles and bicycling infrastructure have emerged as a healthy solution to restricted mobility. Since April 2020, Quito has designated newly placed bike lanes across the city, instigating a 100% increase in use. This paper builds on ethnographic work conducted since 2012 in Quito, which follows a group of women in Quito, Ecuador who started a women’s cycling collective, Carishina en Bici (CEB) - “bad housewives who cycle” in the indigenous language of Kichwa. CEB members use playful lessons to cultivate a sense of belonging in the city through different public practices. These low- and middle-class mestiza—women of mixed ethnicity—who cannot afford private cars and would otherwise take buses move safely throughout the city by cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic between June 2020-February 2021. Yet, their experiences of safety and belonging have been compromised due to the emptiness that marks the urban experience under the pandemic. Remote research was conducted with 10 CEB members to understand experiences of the new cycling infrastructure that emerged due to COVID-19. Combining GPS-marked photographs, bicycle diaries, focus group, and 20 online and in-person interviews, this work seeks to reveal how women’s mobility and friendships foster relations of care to get by in a city defined by insecurity.

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