100 Women in Cycling: why it still matters

A big group of women is cycling on a tree-lined cycle path. They are wearing normal clothes and on a mix of bikes. They are smiling and chatting
Some of 2023’s 100 Women got together for a bike ride
Our 100 Women in Cycling awards started in 2017 to highlight the amazing women out there helping others to cycle. Content officer Rebecca Armstrong looks at some previous winners and why it’s still important

One of our most successful Olympians, Laura Kenny announced her retirement from competitive cycling in March 2024. She has six Olympic medals, as well as many other titles, winning her first title in 2009 when she was just 17.

Cycling has brought Laura career success, romance and a family. She met the man she would go on to marry, Jason Kenny, through competing and the couple now have two children.

She was one of our 100 Women in Cycling in 2020, nominated in the Sporting Hero category to recognise her amazing achievements. One nominator said of her: “She provides a fantastic example to younger cyclists in this country.”

This is exactly why we run 100 Women in Cycling – we want to celebrate all those amazing women doing amazing things in cycling and we want to encourage more women and girls to take up cycling – whether that be cycling to school, for fun or to get the weekly shop.

A woman with long blonde hair is smiling at the camera. She is wearing a white hoodie branded with Prudential RideLondon
Laura Kenney, 100 Women in Cycling 2020, Sporting Hero. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Laura herself said in her retirement announcement on Instagram: “Having people say I have inspired women and girls to get active and get on a bike means the world to me.”

It’s impossible to say how many future Olympians Laura has inspired, but if just one little girl pointed at Laura on her TV and said “I want to do that!” then we’re already winning.

Inspirational women

100 Women launched in 2017 and over the years many woman have been highlighted. It’s impossible to mention them all here, but they include actor, writer and director Maxine Peake, who was nominated as a Cycle Influencer. A keen cyclist she wrote a play about cycle sporting legend Beryl Burton (another 100 Women nominee).

As campaigns and policy manager for Wheels for Wellbeing, Dr Kay Inckle works to improve access to cycling for those with disabilities. She was nominated in the Industry Mogul category.

The Community Champion category is one we’re very excited about. It highlights the people like you who are out there helping make cycling more accessible for their local community. It’s also the most popular category with nominators.

A woman is standing astride a road bike with drop handlebar and rear rack. She is wearing a flat cap, blue and white sailor top and blue trousers
Maxine Peake, 100 Women in Cycling 2021, Cycle Influencer. Photo: Claire Sutton

One winner who stands out is Mariam Draaijer. She joined JoyRiders, a cycling group in Walthamstow, east London, which is aimed at encouraging Muslim women to ride. She trained as a volunteer ride leader because she wanted to help more women to cycle.

These days she is CEO of JoyRiders, which now has branches in Oxfordshire and Manchester and is a community interest company. There are – literally! – hundreds more inspirational women on the list. You can read about them all.

Why it matters

100 Women in Cycling was launched to raise the profile of women cyclists. Things are improving. We now have a women’s version of the Tour de France and there are more women cycling. Kate Veronneau, director of women’s strategy at Zwift, has said that women cyclists are Zwift’s fastest-growing demographic.

But there’s still a long way to go. Government statistics show that 75% of cycling trips in the UK are made by men. Just 9% of women cycle at least once a week; this compares to 21% for men. Men also cycle almost four times further than women.

Shockingly, a study by London Cycling Campaign showed that nine out of 10 women surveyed had experienced verbal abuse while riding their bikes and 93% of respondents said drivers had used their vehicles to intimidate them.

There’s clearly still a lot of work to do. This is why, eight years after its launch, 100 Women in Cycling is still relevant.

By putting the spotlight on women who are getting out there on bikes – whether that’s campaigning for better infrastructure, breaking down cultural barriers or smashing it at the Olympics – we’re helping to show all those women who want to ride that there are women just like them who already are. It also helps promote the groups, projects and schemes that provide support to women.

A woman in a hijab and head scarf with a high-vis jacket is cycling on a flat bar bike. She is smiling and wearing glasses
Mariam Draaijer, 100 Women in Cycling 2019, Community Champion

We want to get more women than ever out on their bikes. The more of us there are, the louder our collective voice becomes. Women are much more likely than men to cite a lack of decent cycle paths as a reason to not ride their bikes. The more female voices we have, the louder we can shout at government and local authorities to improve their cycling provisions – and that makes cycling better for everyone.

We launched the 2024 edition of 100 Women in Cycling on 8 March – International Women’s Day. We’ve already had loads of nominations, but we know there are plenty more out there. Which is where you come in – we want you to get nominating the inspirational women cyclists in your life.

Maybe you know a woman who’s taking the male-dominated cycling industry by storm or a young competitor who could be our next top Olympian. Maybe you want to thank the woman who helped you get into cycling or someone who’s influencing cycle culture in your area.

Anyone can nominate someone they think is deserving. There are many reasons to nominate the women cyclists who inspire you and you can name as many as you like. The women can only appear on the list once, so you might want to check out all our previous winners first.