Ruth Cadbury is the Labour Shadow Housing Minister and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG). TWC met her when the group hosted a discussion focused on women in cycling, and Laura Laker spent some time asking her about her own cycling and what she thinks needs to change before we see more women on bikes.
Read more about APPCG: Women in Cycling Discussed in Parliament
In a café in the modern Portcullis House, Cadbury – who also chairs the Women in Transport Committee – tells TWC women are “appallingly underrepresented” in transport, both on bikes on the street and as engineers in the UK.
- What is the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group? (APPCG)
- The APPCG’s vision is to get more people cycling in the UK more often
- They use their influence to promote cycling across the public, private and third sectors
- They also review research evidence and current best practice and provide recommendations to try to shift government policy
- They are currently running an inquiry into how the justice system treats cyclists, amid widespread concerns it is failing to protect those on two wheels
The Brentford and Isleworth MP often raises cycling questions in Parliament. Her questions range from long-term investment in infrastructure, to design standards that encourage women, children, people with disabilities and older people to cycle. She was asked to co-chair the APPCG after the 2015 general election.
She says: “I got targeted in a way that I couldn’t really refuse: ‘would you like to be the chair, you will won’t you?’ I was flattered to be asked and I’m really pleased to be doing it.”
She adds: “I suppose it was natural, because I’ve generally been concerned about – and as a councillor as well – interested in and focused on alternatives to the car, and making it easier to have alternatives to the car, and the environmental issues as well.”
As with transport, and cycling, women are still underrepresented in Parliament. In 2015 women made up 191 of 650 MPs – just 22 per cent. We wonder, does it help the cycling agenda having a female co-chair in the APPCG?
“I think so,” she says. “I think cycling, like anything to do with transport, can be a bit blokey; even though they’re very nice people and very green and progressive in many ways, even green, progressive blokes can be blokey.
“I think it’s important because we’re more likely to say: ‘well what about parents with children, or what about short journeys, or what about … not feeling intimidated and patronised when you go into a bike shop?”
“You need to have women at the table to make these points: it’s not just about making life easier for fit middle aged blokes to cycle eight miles plus into the city of London, or Westminster.”