The June 2018 BBC article headline – “Almost three-quarters of women 'never cycle” really struck a chord with me.
I doubted how those figures could possibly have been true but then considered my commute to work in Edinburgh and the last few sportives I have entered. There is no shying away from the fact that the majority of cyclists on our roads are men ansd that nearly three-quarters of women ‘never cycle’!!
Twelve months ago, I completed my British Cycling Breeze Ride Leader course to enable me to lead group rides. Although it is the same course that British Cycling run for their ‘Let’s Ride’ initiative, Breeze is just for women.
The objective is to get women feeling more confident and safe on their bikes by going out in small groups and being encouraged by other women.
The planned rides can be as steady or as challenging as the women wish and can range from 5 miles to 50 miles. A ride I was involved in last night took 10 ladies on a 12 miles loop along Silverknowes and Cramond before returning to Balgreen. The weather stayed dry for the most part and everyone left with a smile on their faces.
In order to try and increase the number of women who cycle, and not only that, enjoy cycling we need to make it as accessible as possible to all.
As well as Breeze there is also Belles on Bikes developed and supported by Cycling UK.
Borders Belles was founded by our very own Brenda Mitchell and has seen great success encouraging women out cycling in the area. Many who were complete novices now travel around Scotland on their bikes and have clocked up several hundred miles.
There isn't going to be a ‘quick fix’ to the gender gap when it comes to cycling. A lot needs to be done when it comes to our infrastructure and also road users’ attitude towards people on bikes.
But, in the meantime, groups like Breeze and Belles are there to support women into hopping on their bikes and learning to enjoy everything cycling has to offer.