UK’s 100 most inspirational women in cycling revealed for 2023

A group of women are cycling on a bright sunny day. Some are wearing helmets some are not.
Cycling UK unveils its 100 Women in Cycling for 2023
  • The UK’s cycling charity launches its annual awards, 100 Women in Cycling, celebrating women who inspire others to cycle for the seventh year
  • Charity aims to readdress the imbalance so more women enjoy the many health and wellbeing benefits of cycling
  • Nominees include Hanna Ahmed, community champion and cycling instructor, in Bradford, Emily Williams, Scotland’s first bicycle mayor in Inverness, Aileen McGlynn, Paralympic champion cyclist, Dr Fiona Spotswood, academic researching inequality in sport, Bristol, and Catherine Dunn, filmmaker in Exeter
  • Photos available on request for media

Some of the most exceptional women in cycling have been revealed today (Thursday 23 November 2023) by Cycling UK through its annual 100 Women in Cycling list.

Each year, the UK’s cycling charity recognises women from all corners of the cycling world who have had a positive impact by inspiring others to cycle and thus helping make cycling a more inclusive space.

Despite the 2021 census showing there are more women than men in the UK, men are much more likely to cycle regularly than women. Cycling UK wants to show through its annual celebration of these inspiring individuals that cycling can be for everyone – no matter your gender, background or ability.

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said:

“Cycling is a fantastic way to get around sustainably, keep fit and have fun outdoors, and we want everyone to benefit from the joy of cycling. But in the UK, substantially fewer women ride than men. It’s our mission to reverse that and see equal levels of cycling across all genders.

“A great way to encourage more women to cycle is to share the stories of these amazing women – whether they’re chronicling their adventures on social media, advocating for better infrastructure in their neighbourhoods, inspiring their communities to join them for a ride or winning medals around the world.

“Choosing the top 100 winners involves some really tough choices – there are so many brilliant women out there who we’d want to celebrate.”

Gongs are awarded for a wide range of achievements that have helped inspire more women from diverse backgrounds to get on a bike. They are given in four categories: community champion, industry mogul, cycle influencer and sporting hero.

The 100 Women in Cycling 2023 list includes:

  • Hanna Ahmed, director, instructor, ride leader and mentor at Hop On, a social enterprise organising bike rides for the community in Bradford
  • Emily Williams, Scotland’s first bicycle mayor
  • Dr Fiona Spotswood, an academic at the University of Bristol researching inequality in the mountain biking scene
  • Aileen McGlynn OBE, Paralympic tandem champion cyclist, who grew up in Glasgow but is based in Greater Manchester
  • Catherine Dunn, filmmaker from Exeter who tells impactful stories of women on their bikes – and many more

Dr Fiona Spotswood commented:

“The 100 Women in Cycling initiative showcases the role women have to play in fostering a more inclusive culture across cycling. My roles in cycling vary – I lead a kids’ mountain bike club, I lead groups of women mountain bikers, and I use my research at the University of Bristol to underpin work with public organisations all committed to helping transform mountain biking. Collectively we’re working to continue transforming mountain biking so it is a place where women and girls feel they belong and can thrive.

“It’s been fantastic to be nominated and to learn about all the other women working in incredible ways to foster change in cycling. I feel very proud.”

This year, Cycling UK’s panel was joined by two guest judges, Michelle Arthurs-Brennan, digital editor of Cycling Weekly, and Hannah Dobson, managing editor of Singletrack World.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan said:

“Judging Cycling UK’s 100 women in cycling has been a challenge – there were just so many incredible and inspiring nominees. It’s been eye-opening to read the stories of so many wonderful characters, doing so much to drive the women’s cycling community forwards, growing numbers and confidence levels across such a broad range of cycling styles, from sports enthusiasts to commuters, and those using bikes to cross cultural barriers and enact meaningful change. The future is bright, and riding a bike.”

Hannah Dobson said:

“It was great to see so many women bringing something to the cycling community, and interesting to see so many different types of contributions across all disciplines. It’s good to see people being recognised for their enthusiasm as well as sporting prowess – illustrating that inspiration comes in many forms.

“You don’t have to be on the list to help inspire people to ride – everyone that gets on a bike, whether it’s to go to the shops or to escape to the countryside – is showing the possibilities that bikes offer. I hope some of the stories here will inspire others to try cycling – who knows who will see them and think ‘I could do that, too’?”

Check out the full 100 Women in Cycling 2023 list.

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often.
  2. Statistics show that men still cycle more than women:
    a.    England: on average, men made 23 cycling trips and travelled 89 miles compared to women who made 8 cycling trips and travelled 25 miles per year in 2022 (National Travel Survey)
    b.    Wales: 2% of women cycled every day or several times a week whereas this figure was 4% for men in 2021-22 (National Survey for Wales)
    c.    Scotland: 5% of women cycled for transport compared with 9% of men, and 5% of women cycled for pleasure or to keep fit while this figure was 12% for men in 2021 (TATIS)
    d.    Northern Ireland: 25% of women with use of a cycle reported having cycled in the last four weeks, whereas the corresponding figure for men was 41%. (Walking, Cycling and Public Transport in Northern Ireland)
  3. According to the 2021 Census, women and girls made up 30.4 million (51.0%) of the population of England and Wales, and men and boys made up 29.2 million (49.0%)
  4. Bios of 100 Women in Cycling in this release:
    a.    After starting as a volunteer at Hop On, Hanna Ahmed loved the feeling of getting more people cycling and since her role became permanent she has thrown herself into changing the lives of children, families and adults in Bradford as a ride leader, instructor and mentor. As a young Asian woman Hanna is an excellent role model for women and girls, many of whom face barriers to taking up cycling. “I’m excited to be a part of Hop On’s growth going forward bringing the love of cycling to communities who have never had the opportunity to ride. Getting everyone active one person at a time.”
    b.    Taking office in April of 2023 Emily Williams is Scotland’s first ever bicycle mayor. Based in Inverness she is an ambassador for cycling and has been integral to the organisation of the successful Kidical Mass North group. “I believe that, as well as teaching cycling skills, we have to make out roads into a place where you don’t need confidence to use a bike! For me cycling is my happy place, an activity that brings me joy and freedom, and I want that to be available to as many people as possible.”
    c.    Dr Fiona Spotswood has focused her academic career on understanding and illuminating inequalities in sport and physical activity. Her current research focuses on mountain biking, talking to women cyclists, industry and media to understand the persistent gender inequalities in the scene, and has shown the culture to remain male dominated. “Our follow-on projects seek to provide greater visibility and support for communities of women in mountain biking. Our research is ongoing and based on a personal passion for mountain biking, which has also driven me to run Bristol Shredders, a club for children up to 13.”
    d.    Aileen McGlynn OBE is a Scottish Paralympic tandem champion cyclist, a brilliant athlete who has won medals and broken records into her late 40s. She has helped drive para-cycling forward in the UK and set an example for other partially sighted cyclists since the early 2000s, when she was one of only three cyclists on the GB para-cycling team. She was piloted until 2009 by Ellen Hunter and since then most often by Helen Scott, with whom she took silver at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics in the women’s time trial B, at age 48 and in a personal best.
    e.    Catherine Dunn uses film and photography to capture and tell impactful stories of women on their bikes. She focuses on strength, mental health and community, elevating voices that need to be heard. One such voice was Jessie Stevens’s – the young climate activist who cycled 600 miles across the UK to attend COP26, documented in Not a Hero’s Journey. “I’ve been riding a bike since before I can remember, whether that was BMX, road biking or mountain biking. As long as it was two wheels it didn’t matter, because the important thing was that I had found a space where I could feel strong as a young girl.”

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900-1700) please call 07584 271 300