This article in the Guardian, "For Zimbabwe's women, a bicycle can be a tool of liberation," warms the cockles of my heart. The author describes Zimbabwe as a place where it can be dangerous to be a woman on the road, and she finds a way to distance herself from the fear and unsavory and often frightening conditions of hitching a ride or taking public transportation- the bicycle!
I thought about what most women who relied on public transport, or on lifts from passing cars, were subjected to. I remembered with disgust how I often I had to fend off advances from men who stopped to give me a ride. I sat tight on my seat while being interrogated about my personal life: was I married? No. Then a smile, followed by "do you live alone?" Yes, then a wider smile. "Can I come and pick you up after work?" and so on. Sometimes a hand moved from the steering wheel and found its way to my thigh. A few times I yelled at the driver to let me off. Other times I pretended that I had reached my destination.
When a car would stop for me, first I'd peer in and examine the man's face. Sometimes I refused to get in. I became an expert at making snap judgments. Some men took detours to prolong time with me – their prey – for the purpose of completing the seduction. For some women these rides ended in rape. Fortunately, that never happened to me. But no woman was safe on Zimbabwe's roads.
In some parts of the world, a car is often the weapon of choice in the oppression and entrapment of women.
Please read the rest of this article. It is a well-written personal account that made me realize how much I take my safety for granted, and reinforced the idea of the bicycle as a "tool of liberation."