The Women Behind Ohio’s First-Ever Women’s Bicycling Summit

Organizers Jessica Mathews, Mimi Webb and Jeannie McKenna Martin hope to provide bike awareness and safety to women in the first-ever Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit (OWBS). Passionate and knowledgeable, the organizers created an agenda that educates, empowers and encourages women about bike riding, from economics to mechanics and safety to body image.

On May 10, 2013 the OWBS brings together both an eager audience and expert presenters, including Ohio First Lady Karen Kasich and Trek Women’s Factory Demo Representative Lindsey Sherman.

Introducing the women who coordinated this event, Jessica, Mimi and Jeannie, to hear why a biking education and empowerment event is important for women.


Jessica, Mimi and Jeannie Photo by Yassi Shakibi


Name:  Jessica Mathews
What’s your day job?  ‘Girls in Gear’ Program Coordinator & ‘OWBS Organizer’ Consider Biking
What do you love most about riding a bike?  – I love all the experiences I encounter every time I ride my bike.  It can be meeting a fellow rider while waiting at red light to getting caught in the summer rain to smelling lilacs in the springtime. The experiences and life you see while riding, you can’t feel those in-car.
Where do you like to ride?  I ride everywhere. I chose to donate my car over three years ago.
How are you involved with the Summit? I’m organizing the Summit along with two co-organizers. I went to two bicycle conferences last September in California and knew what I had to do when I returned home. Educating and getting more women and families to ride bikes and feel safe is high priority for me.

Name: Mimi Webb
What’s your day job? Trek Bicycle Store of Columbus – Sales and Operations Manager
What do you love most about riding a bike? The simplistic freedom of pedaling and the camaraderie of bicyclists.
Where do you like to ride? Anywhere and everywhere – in urban environments, a good road ride in the country, or a mountain bike ride in the woods.  It’s all good.
How are you involved with the Summit? Organizer

Name: Jeannie McKenna Martin
What’s your day job?  Landscape Architect (President | Principal in my firm, CYP Studios)
What do you love most about riding a bike?  The freedom to go anywhere and the ability to experience my neighborhood from a different perspective.  I also love how kind and friendly bicyclists are.
Where do you like to ride? Anywhere and everywhere. Typically I ride in Worthington, where I live, as well in the outlying areas when I’m on long recreational rides. I even took my bike to Canada last summer!
How are you involved with the Summit? I worked with a friend who is also a landscape architect to design the logo and print material. I also helped with securing the location of the summit and the after party. One of the site furnishing companies I work with, Maglin, is sending some bike racks to show Summit attendees how to secure their bikes to different types of bike racks.

Mimi, Jeannie, Jessica

How has biking impacted your life?

JM: Riding has impacted me in a way that I can share my knowledge and experiences with others to try to get them to ride a bike. I see and have experienced what it’s going to take for streets to be inviting for everyone to ride and I’ve been putting my heart and soul into creating that change. It’s about giving people choice.

MW: It’s obviously impacted my life because my livelihood now depends completely on bicycles. Not only that, but I’ve developed incredible relationships with people through the bicycle and met some people I never would have otherwise. I honestly feel like the bicycle has been “the great connector” in my life, connecting me to a job, friends, family, and health.

JMM: I realized by riding my bike more and encouraging my kids to do the same, I am passing on values to them now which will impact their future and their world. My children are more confident, happy, and kind because of riding a bike. In order to change a culture, you start from the beginning, and my beginning is my children.

Photo by Yassi Shakibi

Why is Columbus an ideal location to host a Bicyling Summit for women?

JMM: There are many great reasons…Columbus is centrally located so it is easy to get here from anywhere in the state. But Columbus also offers many options for bicyclists as far as riding on trails or on the road so it’s a great place to introduce women who may be skeptical to riding bikes.

What is a goal for the Bicycling Summit?

JM: The goal is simple: To engage, empower, and activate more women in Ohio to ride bikes.

What about the summit makes you most excited?

MW: I’m excited to change women’s lives. Hopefully everyone will walk away with something gained that they’ll be able to incorporate into their life and in turn pass it on to someone they know and we can have a ripple effect in getting women on bikes.

When did you realize the value in creating a support system for women who want to ride bikes?

JMM: I talk a lot about riding my bike for recreation. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had girlfriends ask me about riding…where to go, what kind of bike to get, as well as some more of the personal questions that only impact women. We really need a way to encourage the sharing of this information as well as lessons learned.

Photo by Yassi Shakibi

Why is biking empowering for women? 

JM: From the beginning, the bike was this tool of liberation and independence from the home, from the husband and the kids. It gave women a sense of self-reliance and it’s still like that today. When you get a woman on a bike and show her basic repairs of a bike – this opens up opportunities of access for women.

MW: You know, I think it really creates a mind of independence for women. You can go anywhere on your time at your pace and enjoy it.

JMM: Riding a bike builds confidence and is good for the mind and soul. I’ve never felt more confident, in-charge, powerful, or able to take on anything than after riding my bike.

To register for the event or find more information visit the OWBS website.