The news about British Cycling’s plans to increase the number of women cyclists by 1 million, sparked a fair bit of discussion in our office today. The plans seem to be a little vague about exactly what these plans are likely to be and how much money will be invested in them. In addition, there seems to be a gulf between the undoubted success by women cyclists in the Olympics and the day to day cycling for recreation and commuting. The British Cycling launch cited women’s fear of dangerous road and reluctance to wear lycra as barriers to cycling, but is this really the case?
When living in London 20 years ago, I cycled to work sometimes, negotiating both the Elephant & Castle and Trafalgar Square roundabouts in my journey and frankly, it was pretty scary. There were very few cyclists, let alone women, on the roads then and the attitude of motorists to cyclists was frequently unfriendly, to say the least and I felt pretty vulnerable.
On visiting a few weeks ago and walking through Central London at rush hour both ends of the day, I was struck by how many cyclists there are now – as many women as men as far as I could see, with quite a few Boris Bikes in evidence. So what’s changed? Some say that that the tube bombing had a great deal to do with it – people decided that they would take their chances by bike rather than risking the underground, creating a groundswell that encouraged more and more to start cycling.
So back to women and cycling in Edinburgh – what conclusions did our office discussions come up with (and I’m including women cyclists in this) as to what prevents cycling and what are the solutions. Better and more ‘superhighways’ for cyclists within the city were cited for starters; too many hills – maybe electric bikes could come to the rescue. And finally, our women cyclists in the office agreed that they could deal with traffic, hills and lycra, but someone really needs to come up with a decent solution for ‘helmet hair’ for the cycle commute!
We’d like to hear from women out there – what do you think would make more women cycle in Edinburgh and what prevents them?