Ahead of the release of our Slow Your Roll t-shirt collaboration, we spoke with Marin of Dashing Bicycles about accessibility and diversity in bike culture, and New Orleans' special place in the mix of it.
Photo: Michael Tucker
What’s your story? When did you come to New Orleans and why?
I'm originally from a rural town in Maine. I worked in the film industry through the early 2000s and eventually moved here permanently in 2010 with the intentions of working in film here. I also had been really involved in bicycle advocacy and hosting bicycle street parties in NYC and decided quickly when I moved here that I wanted to transition out of the film industry and into bicycle advocacy. The local bike organization here, now called Bike Easy, had just hired their first Executive Director and I convinced him to hire me on to create some programming ideas like bicycle valet and community education workshops, which they still run today.
When did you start Dashing, and why?
I started Dashing in the Fall of 2013. After a few years here I noticed there was a gap in the bike shop scene, a lack of female representation at most of these shops, and I felt that there was a still a need to cater to everyday bicycle commuters in a way that could be encouraging and make people feel really good about getting around by bike.
What was the bike culture like in New Orleans then, and how has it changed since then?
Honestly, I feel like bike culture in New Orleans has always been diverse, but I don't think people felt as seen as they do now. There is a lot more local pride now than ever to make room for everyone who wants to bike. I credit that a lot to a few people really being out there and are really present each week encouraging more people to participate in social rides - especially my friends Blake and Nick from Bike Rite who have been hosting their weekly Tuesday night Get Up N Ride events so consistently in the last 3 years. So many folks know about them and they made bike lights at night cool again, which I think has been amazing!
“Honestly, I feel like bike culture in New Orleans has always been diverse, but I don't think people felt as seen as they do now. There is a lot more local pride now than ever to make room for everyone who wants to bike.”
What are your favorite things about running Dashing? What kind of impact have you seen in the community?
My work has been so centered around the bike culture here, but when I get home my husband and I are always hanging out with folks in our neighborhood in the Lower 9th Ward. We spend a lot of time with our neighbors talking and trying to advocate to help lift up the Lower 9th Ward which still lacks a lot of amenities and people. We really want to help bring some opportunities out here and are always trying to listen and encourage our elders in the neighborhood to share their knowledge that they have about this neighborhood and what it's been like to live in the L9 their whole lives.
“I think we need to just keep at getting more folks to experience the world by the seat of a bicycle. It's transformative in so many ways on how you see and feel about yourself and our city.”
What makes New Orleans special for you?
The people and our grit. We all have struggles, we all have joy. It's really this love of place that keeps us together and I'm forever thankful to be part of the mix.
In your opinion, what would most improve the city for cyclists?
I think the best thing we can do to improve the quality of bicycling in New Orleans is to raise the awareness that we are all just simply being human. I think we need to just keep at getting more folks to experience the world by the seat of a bicycle. It's transformative in so many ways on how you see and feel about yourself and our city. That spark I think can change people's perspective, wake them up to the human experience and joy of living out your life on our streets here.
What's your DNO?
Obviously, Dashing New Orleans — but also, I saw this great old bumper sticker that said De End New Orleans, with a crossed-out 'f', and I don't think I'll ever get that out of my mind!