Volunteer Awards 2019 Finalist – Cycle Sisters

Cycle Sisters is a highly popular cycling group for Muslim women. Based in Walthamstow, the group has encouraged many women to get cycling and improve their confidence on a bike

Cycle Sisters founder Sarah Javaid created the group in 2016 after seeing a clear need for a safe and culturally appropriate space specifically for Muslim women. The weekly group rides are led entirely by a team of volunteer ride leaders who all started out as participants themselves. Cycle Sisters now has more than 50 active riders and almost all of the group’s members have said that taking part has “greatly improved their cycling confidence”.

One of the cornerstones of the group’s success is the friendly and supportive atmosphere created by the volunteers, who themselves are part of the same community the group is aimed at. The weekly group rides are run during school term time to allow more people to take part and the rides always feature a mid-way stop at a local café.

The group has several different cycle routes around the area and these tend to make use of London’s growing network of cycleways to keep participants away from busy or dangerous roads. This is key to helping those taking part to grow their confidence away from the fast-paced city traffic. The group also offers opportunities for further skills development, such as bike maintenance.

When I’m on a ride I feel free of the stresses of life

Joyce, Cycle Sisters

As well as the weekly group rides, Cycle Sisters has recently started a series of Eat Pray Cycle rides. These are monthly rides to different mosques to perform Friday prayers and eat together in a local restaurant. The group also runs several social events each year so members can socialise outside of cycling.

In 2018, Cycle Sisters won Waltham Forest’s Love Your Borough Award for Best Community or Business Cycling Initiative. The group has also received funding from the council to purchase a fleet of bikes that can be borrowed to allow everyone to take part, regardless of whether or not they have their own bike.