Bina Bilenky is what you would call a real, deal bicycle industry lifer. She grew up sorting, organizing, and cleaning shop at Bilenky Cycle Works, her father’s (Stephen) bicycle company. As she grew up, she worked her way through the administrative side of the company, taking orders, keeping things organized and herding Bilenky’s famous shop cats, professionally. While traveling around the US promoting Bilenky Cycle Works, Bina and Stephen saw an opportunity for an east coast show, one that would be designed to be a public bicycle exhibition with a deliberately broad-reaching bent.

Thus, the Philadelphia Bike Expo was born – and since year two, the show has been in the very capable hands of show organizer, director, and current owner Bina Bilenky.

Under Bina’s reign, the Expo has been a quiet leader in progressive programming. At a time when most of the industry is dancing around inclusive language, Bina has been proactive about baking inclusivity into the show and its programming from inception. And for the show’s tenth anniversary this year, she’s really pulled out all the stops.

The seminar series features a slate of heavy hitters in cycling inclusivity.

Tenzin Namdol will be presenting the recent summit for WTF Bike Explorers, “A growing community of women, trans, femme, and gender non confirming/ gender-queer/non-binary cyclists are changing the imagination of what an adventure cyclist looks like.”

Ayesha McGowan of A Quick Brown Fox (also a recent guest on the Bikerumor Podcast) is rumored to be presenting on the topic of having difficult discussions around inclusivity.

Bike Design Superstar (and My Personal Hero), Georgena Terry, will be leading a seminar with Fitter Superstar, Anne Barnes of ABBikeFit on whether Women-Specific Design is necessary, which should be rich in depth of information and super interesting.

And last but not least, this year’s really exciting project is shaping up to be the Philadelphia Bike Expo and SRAM Diversity Scholarship. In its first year, the scholarship is facilitating four builders from underrepresented communities within artisan frame building to come to the show and really strut their stuff. As part of the program, these builders (who I’ll be speaking to in upcoming interviews – get stoked) will be holding a panel discussion to discuss diversifying the cycling industry at every scale.

In this interview, Bina and I discuss why she’s chosen this show format, why inclusivity and equity is important when building a show, and about growing up in the bike industry and how that has shaped the Expo to what it is today.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more conversations around the Philadelphia Bike Expo and SRAM Diversity Scholarship, including what should be some nerdy conversations with some incredibly talented builders. Get excited.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not sure this focus on inclusivity is a good thing. Bina saying that there’s enough “white dude frame builders” out there that we should represent more WTFLGBTQ (did I get them all?…) just because they are WTFLGBTQ. This is simply wrong. It becomes EX-clusive rather than IN-clusive. Shows should showcase the best – plain and simple. Send in some slides of your work, and let your work speak for itself. My previous bike mechanic was a black male(yes – he didn’t mind being called black) and I went to him because he was the best in town when it came to wrenching. Was he gay or straight or trans? I couldn’t tell, and that didn’t matter – I went to him because, like most BR readers, my bikes matter and I wanted the best. Oh, and he’s a frame builder too. My kid’s pediatrician is a gay Philipino man. Did I choose him because of that? NO – I chose him because I believe he’s the best care provider for my kid where I live, plain and simple. Why, because it matters to me as a parent. My custom frame builder was, turns out, a white dude – did I choose him for that? Heck no – after exhaustive research on my end, he had the best TIG stack-o-dimes and was a pretty cool guy to boot. I work for a female-owned company. Does my color/gender/orientation define my boss, or even me? Hellno. My life, my work speaks for me. As should any frame builder’s. You know, there’s a heck of a lot of “white dudes” drawn to frame building, but that’s not a bad thing if they’re doing good honest work. To say that we need more WTFLGBTQ in any area of life or business is saying, “we need you here simply because of your identity.” Did Ray Charles or Stevie care about the identity of who was tuning or building their pianos? No – they just needed the best. If you’re interested in something, just go and do it, and be the best you can be at it. You think NASA put Sally Ride or Anne McClain in space because of “lesbian inclusivity” or because there were enough “straight-white-dude-space-jockeys?” No – they got to orbit because they were the best – plain and simple.

  2. I’m dreaming of the day Kay(^^)’s dystopian fantasy comes true and all the talented white male framebuilders are pushed out by the huge rush of mediocre women frame buildings taking their jobs in the name of equal opportunity. Because there’s some risk of this happening in the free market should we *gasp* make a little effort to include underrepresented groups in our industry.

  3. There’s enough passive aggressiveness here to last me though the week. And workplace shaming? … Hmmm, maybe a months worth now. Thank you BR comment section for keeping it… real(?)

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