New Film Documents Badass Women Bicyclists of Boyle Heights

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The Ovarian Psyco-Cycle Brigade is the subject of a new documentary that played to critical acclaim last week at South by Southwest. The film, directed by Kate Trumbull-LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski, is called Ovarian Psycos and documents the all-women group of bicyclists that has been riding through the streets of Boyle Heights and East LA since 2010—their faces often covered by black bandanas featuring illustrations of female anatomy.

Working with activist groups within the community, the OPC advocates on behalf of bicyclists without fully embracing the “neighborhood revitalization” mindset of other pro-bike groups. According to the brigade’s website, “OPC exists in Los Angeles because LA is dominated by car culture, and bike culture is dominated by middle and upper class white men. We believe that it is dangerous to live in a society that doesn’t cultivate community, sisterhood, brotherhood and compañerism@.”

Boyle Heights is in the midst of a mighty struggle with the forces of gentrification, and the members of OPC are trying to walk the fine line between creating a more bike-friendly environment and creating an environment that caters to outside interests. In an interview with Good magazine, OPC founder Xela de la X said that “one of the telltale signs of gentrification in our communities is [the appearance of] bike paths.” She argues that, while bike paths make cyclists feel safer, they also act as welcoming beacons to potential gentrifiers.

In a separate interview with Fusion, De la X said that “Coming from working-class, under-resourced communities, we fight back against gentrification, the war that threatens our access and mobility, as we fight against deportation and detention centers.”

In 2013, OPC organized a six-city event dubbed Clitoral Mass, which brought together feminist activists and bicycling groups across the country. “Access and mobility is very important to us, because that’s been taken from us,” De la X said to Good. “It’s been a very limited experience for most of us growing up. I don’t want my daughter growing up fearful. I want her to fucking navigate. We run this shit. And we have sisters that will run this shit with us.”

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