Women's festival of cycling
Currently, only around 20% of Cycling UK members are female. Statistics supplied by our Member Groups suggest that women are outnumbered by men on most rides by an average ratio of about 2:1, whilst academic studies and even a recent Parliamentary meeting suggested that there are many barriers as to why fewer women than men rides bikes.
To address this and, following on the success of our Five Miles to Fabulous initiative in 2007, female-friendly cycling activities called The Women's Festival of Cycling will be the focus for many Cycling UK groups throughout the summer of 2017.
Belles on Bikes
Throughout the country, Cycling UK already has a large number of groups that cater specifically for women cyclists. These include our very successful Belles on Bikes project in Scotland, with groups so far in many cities and towns, including:
- the Scottish Borders
- Cycle Ayrshire – monthly ladies only rides of between 15 to 30 miles
In England and Wales, the following Cycling UK Member Groups run female-specific activities:
- Fylde Bicycle Belles – originating from the ‘Five Miles to Fabulous’ project in 2006/2007
- Cycle Bristol - Get Gorgeous rides to encourage women to ride longer distances over a period of time
- Chester Fabulous Ladies – an informal group of Chester & North Wales originating from the same project
- Wirral Bicycle Belles – also a Chester & North Wales informal group
- Derby and Burton – the majority of Sunday riders are women
- Isis Cyclists (Oxford City) – an informal group of women riders
- Fleet Cycling – Friday Ladies Only rides of between 3 to 8 riders doing 30-35 miles with a coffee stop
- Lancaster and S. Lakes – Girls’ Weekend Away
- Two Mills – have a Bicycle Belles informal ladies’ group
- South Herts - has been running Five Miles to Fabulous rides since 2007
- Lincolnshire - monthly women's rides
- Cornwall – Liskeard Ladies Cycle Group
In addition, there are other groups of ‘Belles’ affiliated to Cycling UK:
- Reading Bicycle Belles – supported by Cycling UK, monthly rides for women returning to cycling or beginners
- Southport Cycling Belles
- Chichester Biking Belles
- Banstead Belles
- York Bike Belles
Find a group or ride near you
There are lots of other groups providing women's specific activities throughout the UK - to find one in your area, just use the Women Only Rides filter on our Local Groups finder.
As well as highlighting this existing activity, we are aiming to encourage more groups to add women's events to their existing calendars. Groups that have so far said they will do so include:
We will be supporting this programme of rides with a range of resources and advice. We will also be adding to our current content with even more articles and features looking at the issues that prevent more women from cycling, with guidance on how to overcome them.
We will, of course, profile the many existing female cyclists, such as our own Vice-President cycle tourer Josie Dew and ground-breaking riders like Lady Harberton, Dervla Murphy, and Rachel Atherton, and the women who are helping break down barriers to women riding elsewhere in the world, such as Shannon Galpin, who works to enable women to take up cycling in Afghanistan, and Ayesha McGowan, first black female professional bike racer in US.
Then there is the work of Cycling UK's own inspirational volunteers to highlight too, including several long-standing female Member Group Secretaries, ride leaders, tour leaders, event organisers and many others.
If you would like to be involved in this celebration of female cycling, or would like to nominate somebody we should include, please contact Julie Rand, Member Group Coordinator.
Yes, she can! A rider conquers Cheddar Gorge on Cycle Bristol CTC's Get Gorgeous event.