- By London Cycling Campaign on at 2:50pm 3 March 2014
- Posted in:
- Tagged with: London Bike Kitchen, Jenni Gwiazdowski, International Women's Day
Jenni is founder and Director of DIY bike workshop, The London Bike Kitchen
Jenni hails from San Diego, went to uni at Berkeley and graduated with a BA in Mass Communications. After working at an afterschool programme for disadvantaged kids in Richmond, CA, she fled the US for Japan to "teach" English for three years. Having caught the travel bug, the next stop was London, but she fell in love with Europe and has remained faithful since. She cut her charity teeth at the London Community Resource Network before starting up the London Bike Kitchen in March 2012. Jenni currently lives with her awesome flatmates/surrogate family in Clapton, and wishes she had more time to go on cycling escapades out of London.
What does space for cycling mean for you?
For me, cycling is freedom. I can travel wherever I want and not be dependent on someone else's schedule. I can weave through a traffic jam, I'm not sitting next to someone's smelly armpit - that is freedom. But when someone cuts me off, or drives too close, or decides to open their passenger door at a red light (who does that???), that's when I demand space for cycling. When a driver decides that getting to their destination 5 seconds faster is more important than me being alive, that's when I demand space for cycling. We shouldn't be shoved to the side of the road (literally and figuratively), we should have dedicated infrastructure that ensures our safety and visibility, that clearly illustrates the priority of road users and encourages those less experienced to give it a go! That is space for cycling for me.
How did you become involved with LCC?
I've been an LCC member since I bought my first real bike in London back in 2008. At that point in time, I did it for the economic benefits (3rd party insurance and the bike shop discount), but now I do it because they have expert staff dedicated to lobbying on behalf of cyclists and their rights. I also appreciate that they took a chance on me and London Bike Kitchen, and liked us so much they selected us for a grant for tools, even when we didn't have premises!
What will you never forget about riding a bike?
The first memory of having a bad crash on a bike in London - I'll never forget that. I was at a red light getting ready to turn right across traffic. When the light turned green, the opposing traffic didn't go, so I thought I was able to cross. Instead, I took a massive fall from a standstill, toppled over my bicycle and a scooter ran over my bike and skidded off on its side. Luckily no one was hurt, but it prompted a question - how was it possible to fall from a standstill? It dawned on me later that the problem was 'toe-overlap', (the back of my front wheel caught my left foot when turning the handlebars right) and so began the interest in bicycle frames, geometry, and mechanics...