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TfL Cycle Your City campaign aims to get more women commuting

Joseph Delves
9 Mar 2020

New scheme aims to help even out London’s cycling demographic by providing role models for women

With the growth of cycling outpacing any other mode of transport in London, the riders taking to the capital’s roads nevertheless remain unreflective of the city as a whole. According to Transport for London, three-quarters of women in the city know how to ride a bike, but only 13% regularly cycle.

Despite generally - if slowly - improving infrastructure, TfL believes concerns about safety and a lack of role models remain major barriers to more women taking up cycling.

'We invest heavily in making cycling in London safer and easier for everyone,' says Christina Calderato, TfL’s Head of Transport Strategy and Planning. 'But despite lots of improvement, women are still persistently underrepresented in London’s cycling community. It’s clear we need to change that, so they can access the range of benefits that cycling can bring.'

Part of TfL’s answer is the newly launched Cycle Your City campaign, which aims to provide practical support, advice and free training, along with promoting mentors and role models among currently underrepresented groups.

Alongside concerns about collisions, driver behaviour and traffic levels, TfL has also highlighted a lack of representation within the cycling industry, experiences of harassment and hostility, and negative public perceptions as further factors holding back some women from cycling.

In a recent survey of 1,792 women across London, TfL found 60% would be encouraged to cycle more if they saw more women of their age and background doing so. This figure was particularly weighted towards those under 25 years old.

Taking this as its starting point, TfL will be promoting ambassadors to inspire other women. Aiming to provide both inspiration and practical advice, the scheme is searching for role models who’d be happy to volunteer their time.

Announced on International Women’s Day as the winner of this year's Cycle Hire competition, a perfect example would be Habiba Khanam. The nurse from Bow uses one of TfL’s fleet of rental bikes to commute to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel each day.

'Nothing gives me greater pleasure than being able to pop on and off a Santander bike, with the convenience of a dock near my flat and one right next to the hospital where I work,' she explained. 'It always feels amazing to be able to enjoy a bike ride after a 13-hour shift.'

Commenting on the scheme Fawcett Society Campaigns Communications Manager, Natalia Fricker said: 'Cycling is a feminist issue. The ongoing gender gap in cycling is a result of patriarchal systems that prevent women from accessing the many positive lifestyle changes that cycling can bring, such as improved health from regular exercise and being outdoors, saving money on public transport, and, most importantly, the feeling of freedom, self-reliance and independence.

'These issues need to be addressed by understanding and taking action on the issues and barriers specific to women.'

Anyone interested in volunteering as an ambassador, or who feels they’d benefit from some mentoring or advice can emailing TfL at cycleyourcity@tfl.gov.uk, highlighting what they would like to learn and why.

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