Dame Sarah Storey is launching a new campaign ahead of Bike Week (6th – 12th June) with the aim to get 50,000 more women to take up cycling.
This comes as new research reveals, almost half of UK women would like to take up cycling, but concerns about dangers on the road, personal safety and a lack of cycling infrastructure remain “significant barriers”.
The research, by Bott and Co solicitors, revealed that 90% of women don’t own a bike and of those that do have one, only 16% cycle every day and 18% once or more a week.
A further 49% would like to own a bike, but are discouraged by worries over road safety and the risk of being injured, a lack of cycle lanes and not wanting to ride alone.
In response to these shocking stats, Bott and Co – alongside Paralympic champion – Dame Sarah Storey, have launched a national campaign called She Can Ride with tips to encourage more women to take up cycling and have designed an interactive web tool so budding female cyclists can find like minded cycling groups and enjoy local rides together.
The research goes on to reveal just how long many women had been out of the saddle. Almost a quarter (23%) hadn’t cycled for two years or more, and 10% ten years or longer. One in ten admitted to never having cycled.
Although cycling has grown in popularity in the UK in recent years, a gender divide remains.
Official statistics* show that in 2019 men made three times more cycle trips than women (24 trips compared to 8 trips), although in 2020 this fell to twice as many.
When asked about their attitudes to cycling, 64% of women cited concerns about their “personal safety” due to cars and other people.
Almost two-thirds (62%) said they enjoyed cycling but motorists made them “anxious” while 22% thought more needed to be done to improve safety for cyclists.
Factors that prevent women cycling more frequently include a shortage of cycle lanes, poor weather, a lack of winter daylight and doubts about their fitness.
Significantly, just a third of women (31%) and men (29%) believe that recent changes to the Highway Code will be helpful.
The new code includes recommendations for cyclists to take the centre of their lane where there are no separate cyclist facilities, supposedly to make them more visible.
But the coronavirus pandemic has had a positive impact, with 33% of women and 32% men taking advantage of the quieter roads during lockdown to start cycling.
And 26% of women and 24% of men said they had cycled more over the past two years due to safer roads.
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co said: “Although cycling has grown in popularity in recent years we know there’s a gender gap and women cycle far less than men.
“Significant barriers remain for women who want to get into the saddle. The survey shows they have concerns about their personal safety and dangers on the road, whether that’s caused by too much traffic, some motorists’ attitudes or a lack of cycling infrastructure.
“Women can feel far more vulnerable than men when they’re cycling, so it’s not surprising their participation rates are lower. Which is why during Bike Week, we’re launching our She Can Ride campaign to encourage more female cyclists – with the aim to see fifty thousand more women cycling through our tool and tips.
“Our website features a ‘Find a Club’ tool that will allow women to join other would-be female cyclists in their area so they can enjoy local rides together. Hopefully, this will help boost participation rates.”
One of the most decorated British athletes in history with 14 Paralympic gold medals, Dame Sarah Storey, is backing the campaign to get more women cycling. She said: “I love cycling and feel so fortunate to be able to ride my bike every day, but I know not everyone has that confidence. Whilst the numbers of people I wave to on my rides has risen sharply over the past decade or so, it’s still very noticeable that men are more likely to be riding and if I pass groups there are very few women on bikes.
She continued: “It’s vital we look to address the challenges from all angles and initiatives. The cycling group finder tool from Bott and Co will make a significant difference to those women who have said they’d love to ride more! I’m excited to be able to support this campaign and look forward to meeting new women of all levels of experience out on our bikes very soon.”