Female cyclists denied bikes in childhood celebrate International Women’s Day in Portsmouth

The Women's Learn to Ride group in Portsmouth
A group of female cyclists who only learnt to ride bicycles in the last few months are to celebrate their empowering new skill with a group outing for International Women’s Day.

Members of the Portsmouth Women’s Learn to Ride group, supported by the national cycling charity Cycling UK, will take to the streets in celebration. It’s a huge achievement for the group; many of the women come from cultures or communities where girls riding bicycles was and often still is considered inappropriate, meaning they never had a chance to cycle in childhood.

Khaleda Begum is one of around 30 women who has learnt to ride with the group this year. One of four sisters, she moved to Portsmouth from Bangladesh in 2005 and now has three children. Her inspiration to learn to cycle comes from her 11-year-old daughter, who’s been riding since the age of three.

Khaleda says: “When I was at school I wanted to learn to ride a bike, but we haven’t got any brothers, so we haven’t got any bikes in our home. I’m from Bangladesh; in Bangladesh if there is any boy, he will get a bike, but it’s not for girls. I didn’t have any chance to learn.”

The bicycle has always been a symbol of women’s freedom, giving independence and mobility, and was a valuable tool in the fight for universal suffrage. Today it is still breaking down barriers.

Alex Cuppleditch, Cycling UK’s Cycling Development Officer for Portsmouth says: “When discovering their reasons for wanting to learn to cycle, I learnt many of these women wanted to ride with their families and teach their children to ride. That’s why I thought a group ride would be a wonderful way to finish the eight-week course, and show how far these ladies have come.”

The ride ties in with Cycling UK’s launch of the Women’s Festival of Cycling for 2018, a month of events throughout July designed to encourage and celebrate women who cycle.

Notes to editors

1) Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org

2) A recent article about the Women’s Learn to Ride group can be found here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/all-smiles-portsmouths-womens-learn-ride-group

3) A link to the group’s route for the International Women’s Day ride can be found here: https://www.strava.com/routes/11668111

4) Cycling UK’s Women’s Festival of Cycling began last year with more than 70 female-friendly rides and events. It will run again in 2018. Find out more here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/news/20170721-cycling-uks-wonderful-summer-cycling-continues

Press contact information

The group will meet from 10am Thursday 8 March outside All Saints Church on Commercial Road, Portsmouth, before setting off for Victoria Park at 11am. Photography and interview opportunities are available.

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org