British Cycling has announced that its female membership has passed 20,000 for the first time in history. They’ve also seen impressive increases in the number of female coaches, mountain bike leaders, and women’s only development session attendees.
Of the 20,000 women registered with British Cycling, 45 per cent have opted to take out a race license – enabling them to compete in events such as road races and criteriums. The Ride Membership proves most popular, with 52 per cent of women going for this option. Designed for sportive riders and commuters, it provides insurance and access to BC’s resources and discounts. Finally, 3 per cent have a Fan membership – supporting the organisation and its goals.
The figure represents an incredible 139 per cent increase since the London 2012 Olympics – and after yet more success from Great Britain’s female track riders and Paralympic cyclists at Rio, we hope to see the upward trajectory continue. Currently, the average age of female members if 39 years old, but the most senior of all those women registered is 103.
Taking out a British Cycling membership suggests a fair commitment to two wheels – and though BC obviously want to see more of that, their key goal since 2013 has been to get more women on bikes – regardless of membership.
After the 2012 Olympic games, the National cycling body announced its strategy to get one million more women on bikes by 2020. Since then, they say over 250,000 more women are cycling regularly.
On top of all that, there’s been a pretty impressive 70 per cent increase in the number of trained female coaches in Britain and a 17 per cent rise in the number of women taking part in female only development sessions since 2013.
The organisation recently carried out research into barriers preventing women from taking the step into ‘challenge’ events such as sportives – finding that a lack of confidence and a feeling of ‘not fitting in’ proved to be major off-putting factors. Having over 1,100 female coaches in the country – half of them having trained in the last three years – as well as women’s only sessions has got to help.
Commenting on the increase in female coaches, and the positive impact that can have senior coaching and education officer at British Cycling Helen Hiley said: “These coaching figures are extremely encouraging, and demonstrate very clearly the tremendous progress which is being made in getting more women into our sport. We know that females generally are still under-represented in cycling, but we are now building real momentum to effect sustainable change.”
For those not looking to enter ‘challenge’ events or take part in formal coaching sessions, British Cycling have also been developing their ‘Breeze’ programme. This involves training women to lead rides, which can be sought out via an online database, providing a ready support network for new women keen to get out on the bike but unsure where to start. There are now over 1,900 trained Breeze champions – a 145 per cent increase since 2013. Off-road, the number of female mountain bike leaders has expanded from just 45 in 2013 to over 250 in only four years.
Jill Puttnam, British Cycling’s national operations manager, has said: “Encouraging more women and girls into cycling is vital for the future of our sport, and we are committed to continuing this fantastic momentum in the months and years to come.”
Long may the upward trends continue! Of course, British Cycling are not the only ones encouraging more and more women to get active. This week being Women in Sport week, we’ve been inundated with positive messages around increased women’s participation – as well as reminders of the work still to be done.