Sarah set up a Walthamstow cycle group for Muslim women in 2016 called Cycle Sisters; the group aims to provide a comfortable space for Muslim women to develop their cycling skills, explore the local area and make new friends. It is an entirely volunteer-led project, which has grown from a few people to more than 40 women who meet weekly for social cycle rides.
To do this, Sarah first developed a partnership with Waltham Forest Council to access loan bikes. Lots of the women have been inspired to buy their own bikes after riding with the group for a while and now take their whole families out on cycle rides in holidays and weekends. In partnership with the Hornbeam JoyRiders project, Waltham Forest Council and Cycle Confident, Cycle Sisters has been able to train five members as ride leaders, to ensure the sustainability of the group and open up the opportunity for further groups to be set up. Cycle Sisters won the ‘Best Cycling Initiative’ in the Waltham Forest Love Your Borough Awards 2018 earlier this year for its work in engaging Muslim communities in cycling.
It is so inspiring to see the women grow in confidence through participating in Cycle Sisters rides and how much joy and fun cycling brings them.
- Sarah Javaid
In January this year Sarah also started working as a cycle instructor with Cycle Confident and has been able to provide Bikeability training to many women to develop their cycling skills and confidence in cycling on roads, as well as training complete beginners to ride, who never had the chance to learn when they were younger, often due to cultural reasons.
Sarah says, “Having discovered a love of cycling myself only a few years ago and experienced how it has changed me and my family’s life for the better, my main motivation is to be part of opening up cycling for other people. It is so inspiring to see the women grow in confidence through participating in Cycle Sisters rides and how much joy and fun cycling brings them. One of our members who has trained as a ride leader recently messaged me to say how much confidence she has gained from Cycle Sisters and how many new friends she’s made and that she never would have imagined she could have been a ride leader!
“By empowering and supporting these women, Cycle Sisters is having an even wider impact as whole families get out on their bikes and make cycling part of their lives.”]