British Cycling are trying to convince us women, that cycling is not only for “men in Lycra" by announcing plans this morning to get one million more UK women riding bikes by 2020.
This ambitious plan is backed by two of Britain’s latest cycling heroines, Jess Varnish and Becky James and is designed to tackle the major barriers identified as preventing women from participating in cycling.
Over 30% of female respondents to a recent British Cycling survey, identified safety concerns as the main reason they didn’t cycle. Other common answers were the lack of knowledge of local routes and the fact that they didn’t have anyone to cycle with. Sound familiar?
Although British Cycling has gone some way to address these issues with the success of its Breeze network of women-only leisure rides, lead by Breeze Champions. They’ve finally realised the time is here to address the fact that the sport still has an image problem with some women and it needs to be made accessible at all levels.
How will British Cycling get one million more UK women cycling regularly by 2020?
Kirstie Moore, Advisor to the Board, British Cycling, outlined how these ambitious plans would be implemented at a grassroots level:
“We aim to build on the success of traffic free, mass participation events, such as Sky Ride and British Cycling's female led rides, Breeze, to encourage more women to take up recreation cycling with other women, their partners, families and friends.
By continuing to campaign for safer roads for all cyclists to help overcome the safety concerns that 30% of women identify as the main barrier to taking up cycling.
Setting up entry-level racing opportunities for women to compete at key facilities across the country, including establishing ‘get into cycle sport' coaching sessions.
Working to influence more event organisers to put on women's events to run alongside men's races.
Establishing a National Youth Form with equal male and female representation to feed into British Cycling's work to inspire young people to take up the sport.
Recruiting more female coaches, volunteers and officials into the sport to ensure more women are influencing and running the sport at the grassroots.
Working to ensure that British Cycling's board is more representative with plans to recruit three female Board members as soon as possible.
Embedding our strategy in all of British Cycling's work and outputs including ensuring that our website, membership offer and branding is appealing to women.
Looking at how we can better promote our free expert advice, cycling routes and Social Cycling Groups network to demonstrate how easy it is to get involved."
For more information visit the British Cycling website.
If you’ve got non-cycling friends, what do you think would get them cycling more? Do you think British Cycling could be doing more to stimulate the growth of women cycling at the grassroots? Feel free to leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.