To Elizabeth Bejan, bicycling is a political statement. Her riding career, her work with the AIDS Bicycle Cruise fundraiser, https://www.abckc.org , and her newest effort, a local nonprofit called Revolve KC, http://revolvekc.org, have all been driven by her belief that biking breaks down physical and metaphorical social barriers.
As a leader in the local gay community, Bejan has focused much of her work on LGBTQ outreach, such as her Gears for Queers program. But perhaps her biggest passion is bringing bicycling to women.
“A woman on a bicycle is a political statement,” Bejan says. “It is an indication of the vitality and vibrancy of a metropolitan area. She is saying, ‘I feel safe, I feel confident with my own human energy. I’m going to get where I need to go.’”
As a female biker, Bejan has herself struggled in the past with not being taken seriously as an athlete. She recalls having bottles thrown at her during bike rides, as well as occasional verbal harassment. Now she is working to make biking safe, enjoyable and accessible for women.
For about four years, Revolve has operated as a nonprofit organization dedicated to refurbishing and redistributing previously owned bikes. Bejan and her staff have provided about 825 bikes to families, organizations, and individuals during the time that the Kansas City, Mo., store and its second location in Kansas City, Kan., have operated. Revolve aims to raise that total to 1,000 bikes by the end of 2015.
Patrons of Revolve participate in the Earn-a-Bike program, in which they either complete an online bicycling safety course or volunteer for 10 hours in the shop. Both alternatives heavily emphasize bicycle safety and education, which are Bejan’s focus in all of Revolve’s operations.
Revolve also operates targeted outreach programs, merging her passion for bicycling and her background in social work. Gears for Queers is for members of the LGBTQ community, and they recently added a Latino outreach program as well. These programs offer extra benefits for those in the targeted communities.
Bejan has been involved with the AIDS Bicycle Cruise (ABC) for many years and is a former co-chair of the event. Even now, Bejan and Revolve have a significant presence both in preparations for and during the ABC. Bejan heavily promotes it personally and through Revolve, and many participants obtain bikes at the shop before the event. In addition, Revolve will have a stop along the cruise, which Bejan is confident has a shot at winning recognition for best stop.
A fiercely driven and ambitious individual, Bejan is cooking up more ways to benefit the Kansas City community. She is considering opening a third Revolve location, which she hopes will be on Independence Avenue.
“As a social worker and as the youngest of a large immigrant family, my service orientation looks to the immigrants and refugees densely populating Independence Avenue,” she says.
Although plans are not yet finalized, Bejan expects that a third store in a predominantly immigrant area would assist families and individuals struggling to find reliable transportation to work and school.
Revolve is located at 5100 Troost Ave. in Kansas City, Mo., and at 554 Central Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. Weekly group bike rides, which welcome new participants, are held at 6:30 on Tuesday evenings out of the Kansas City, Kan., location. To learn more about the shop or to participate in the Earn-a-Bike program, visit http://revolvekc.org.