Women on Wheels at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling

Women on Wheels being inspired in Edinburgh
CTC's Assistant Head of Development, Suzanne Forup, likes a challenge, particularly if it involves organising part of a cycling festival, cake and books.

Back in the depths of winter, when I started to plan with partners the proposed events for the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, I must have forgotten the stress of the year before. Rather like childbirth I only remembered the glorious success of the two events, rather than the pain and anxiety brought on by fear that no-one would turn up to either.

By the spring, I found myself head down in funding applications for a larger series of 'Women on Wheels' events. I love it when a plan comes together and thanks to our wonderful funders (Edinburgh City Council and the Women's Fund for Scotland) and the support of CTC Scotland and the brilliant partners, volunteers and my colleagues we were able to host five 'Women on Wheels' activities over the two weekends of the Festival.

On the first Saturday morning we ran the Bike Curious Family workshop, bringing 'cycling families' and their wonderful array of child carrying equipment, to show families that want to get cycling with their babies on board. Despite the chilly morning, the playground at Sciennes Primary School was packed with children, novice cargo bike drivers and parents talking about the pros and cons of their cycle set up. Like last year, the procession of well decorated bikes caused quite a spectacle as we rode around the Meadows on our kidical mass ride.

That night our second Women's Cycle Forum commenced, challenging everyone to think about the action they can take to 'build a better world'. With inspirational input from No More Page Three and Playing Out to help us think creatively about campaigning, the night produced a unique bingo board - 25 actions that women could achieve to change the narrative on cycle campaigning. From #quaxing to guerrilla knitting, calling out inequity in cycle facilities and starting your own local campaign group; we have now got a range of suggestions and a room full of women who want to change cycling. It's not just for women - everyone can have a go at #BABWBingo!

We have now got a range of suggestions and a room full of women who want to change cycling."

Suzanne Forup, CTC Assistant Head of Development

The brilliant Belles on Bikes Edinburgh needed no help in arranging their 15:15 ride on the Sunday, with nearly 40 eager ladies joining them for a couple of lovely leisurely loops of the city. The Belles are part of the growing Belles on Bikes network in Scotland, supported by CTC.

Learn then ride

Fast forward to the next weekend, and back to Sciennes Primary for our 'Learn then Ride' workshop. Fourteen ladies came along to improve their cycling skills and increase their confidence to cycle on the road. In just two hours, the difference was quite incredible, from wobbling to some strong pedalling and signalling. All of the women were eager to do more sessions and short rides to move them from on from playground manoeuvres to the low traffic routes and paths around Edinburgh.

We waved off the excited, novice cyclists and dashed across the Meadows to meet with the wonderful Kate Rawles, author of The Carbon Cycle. Kate then led our group of cycling book lovers between independent bookshops WordPower and the Edinburgh Bookshop, talking cycling adventures on the way. Kate read from her own book, and introduced the crowd to Gwen Maka, the lovely Anna Hughes and my heroine Dervla Murphy. The day finished the day with cake at Looking Glass Books. A perfect end to a great event and our Women on Wheels series for this year.

Bring on 2016!