Hande Karaca

My name is Hande Karaca, 36 years old daydreamer, copywriter, feminist, cyclist, LGBTQ member, animal right activist, yoga teacher, amateur tailor, and a leader of a cyclist-feminist association called Chain Breaking Women. With CBW I’m making projects for empowering women physically and mentally by teaching them cycling. And we’re organising cycling tours in Istanbul, to other cities in Turkey, or to other countries. I believe these tours are liberating for all of us like Bell Hooks said: “Feminism Is for Everybody”. I have 3 bicycles, one fixie, one road bicycle, and one tour bicycle. I’m advising every woman to have at least 2 bicycles to feel freer and do more activities with them.

When I divorced in 2018, I started a group called Chain Breaking Women and with this feminist group, we would cycle like sisters at night and forget about our weaknesses and pains. But when the pandemic came into our lives, I dreamed about the Women Cycling Ambassadors project in 2020 September. I’m proud to say we (as an association now) graduated 130 women as Cycling Ambassadors. And with their help we continue to teach more than 600 women how to cycle.

I’ve made another project called “Chain Breaking Kids”. With the help of the Ministry of Family, we’ve reached 20 orphanages (7-12 years old)  , collected bicycle donations for them and taught them how to cycle. And we collected digital cameras as donations for them and taught them how to take pictures as professionals. We’ve organised exhibitions for them to sell their pictures and earn what they need.

What are your plans as Bicycle Mayor?

In 2021, I became the first Turkish woman who did a solo cycling trip through India. It was amazing and eye-opening to see that sexist, environmental and inequality problems exist all over the world. So I decide to go big or go home!

This year I’ve started cycling training in other cities than Istanbul. I’m educating Cycling Mentors to teach Cycling Ambassadors. My dream is one day to build a Chain Breaking Women Community House in Istanbul. There will be a bicycle mechanic atelier and meeting point at CBW-CH where we can arrange training and parties.