Elly Blue believes in the power of the written word — “preferably in brightly colored ink” — to build a movement.
Over the course of thirteen-and-counting issues of her zine, Taking the Lane, Blue and her contributors have explored the relationship between cycling and feminism and advocated for a more bike-friendly future. Along the way, they’ve touched upon important topics like economic inequality, trauma and healing, and gender identity.
Blue published the first issue of Taking the Lane in 2010, printing 500 copies that she assumed “would be a lifetime supply.” Within months the zine was sold out, and Blue was on her way to building a full-time career as a writer and publisher of work related to her two favorite topics: cycling and feminism. Her catalog now includes multiple collections of feminist bicycle science fiction; anthologies about cycling as it relates to women’s health, grief and healing, and religion; a work of nonfiction about how cycling can help the economy; and more.
Many of the readers who backed Blue’s first project have become “friends, contributors, and colleagues” who have continued to support her work, she says. That community helped her publish the fourteenth issue of Taking the Lane, which offers perspectives on class, race, gender, and money, and their relationship to cycling and feminism.
After seven years and fourteen issues of Taking the Lane, Blue finds it helpful every now and then to get back to basics — to remind herself what the zine is all about. It’s a practice she recommends to other writers. “It helps to keep the big picture in mind,” she says. “Why do you do this work? Why do people care about it?”
For Blue, the answer never fails to illuminate her path forward: “It’s about [creating] a feeling and a story and a community. The whole point is to build a movement.”