Meet Girls Riding Club Coordinator Malay Khamsyvoravong

Bike and Roll to School Week is Apr. 17-21. Is your school or little one ready to ride? We caught up with family biking champion and member Malay Khamsyvoravong, Program Coordinator at Presidio YBike to find out more about her and her program, the Girls Riding Club.

SF Bicycle Coalition: Can you give us a little background on what YBike does?

Malay: YBike was started in 2002 when one of the Presidio YMCA’s members began volunteering to teach kids how to ride a bike. “YBike” is now the umbrella term for a set of initiatives promoting youth cycling in San Francisco and the Peninsula. We lead after-school bike clubs, high school bike shops, PE programs, weekend learn-to-ride events, summer camps and Girls Riding Club.

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Tell us a little about the Girls Riding Club.

Girls Riding Club, a program through YBike, started in 2015 with the purpose of getting more girls, trans* and femme-identified youth riding and exploring the world of bikes. Our goal is to hold a space where youth can be themselves while trying new things and bonding with others who share a common interest. We aim to offer opportunities to engage with biking from many different angles – from trying out different riding styles to learning mechanics to making bike crafts to viewing bikes as co-conspirators to adventures big and small.

Why is getting more girls and young women on bikes important to you?

When I started at YBike, it transformed my relationship to bikes because I began to see how biking fits into the flow of traffic, and how taking an assertive stance on the streets made interactions with other road-users safer. I found that the more I biked, the more ​I began to approach other situations in my life ​with the same confidence and self-assurance. Being able to help others develop these parts ​of themselves is a huge motivator for me. I want for all people – and young folks in particular – to feel joy in moving their bodies and to feel that they have a right to take up space;​ on the road, in a classroom, in a discussion, wherever.  It’s also why I think it’s important to connect with young folks who don’t already associate themselves with biking, or with being “athletic.” Their experience having fun or accomplishing something challenging on a bike could be a catalyst for other changes in their lives.

How does your work intersect with our work here at the SF Bicycle Coalition?

The SF Bicycle Coalition does such awesome work to push for safer streets! When we bike through a new bike lane or area with improved bike infrastructure, we get to share with youth how organizations like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition advocate for making our streets safer. YBike also ends up at many of the same community events as the SF Bicycle Coalition. While our focus generally is on running a youth biking segment, the SF Bicycle Coalition has a lot of information to share about family biking. We’re also excited to host the volunteer night for April’s Bike & Roll to School Week, which is being coordinated by the SF Bicycle Coalition.

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