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Women and their bicycles: a portrait series – London

Total Women’s Cycling zooms in on the UKs growing community of female cyclists.

We asked cycling photographer, Alastair Johnstone, to capture the essence of female cycling in a series of portraits, documenting the growing community of women riding on the roads, trails and tracks across the UK.

These portraits will uncover the diversity of women who cycle, ultimately highlighting that riding a bike really is an activity accessible to all.

With riders sharing their stories, our aim is to inspire, motivate and encourage more females to saddle up by showcasing real women on wheels.

Judith, 43, Domestic Violence Support Worker

Judith. © Alastair Johnstone
Judith. © Alastair Johnstone
Judith. © Alastair Johnstone

Name: Judith
Age: 43
Bike: Btwin
Job: I support victims of domestic violence

How did you get into cycling?

I guess I cycled as a child a lot because where I come from, the south of France, on an island we cycled a lot. You know, I just enjoy it and discovered over here I could do it more or less safely.

What do you love about cycling?

The independence, the freedom. That’s the opportunity I have to be outside. You go to work, you’re in an office all day and that’s my opportunity to have some fresh air and sunlight.

What’s the best piece of riding advice you’ve been given?

Do you know what, I’d probably say it was to be watchful of buses (laughs) extremely! Cyclists tend to have to watch out for everybody else.

Where’s you favourite place to cycle?

Well obviously with the minimum amount of cars to start with and where the scenery is beautiful, that always helps. But in London I enjoy doing it along the river, or pathways, parks, backstreets.

Who do you usually cycle with?

I tend to cycle with myself (laughs) mostly. Um, it’s very rare I actually cycle with anybody else. I’m trying to get some people to come along at the weekend. It used to be my teenage son but he’s absolutely not interested at all, hasn’t been for some years!

 Esther, 25, Fashion designer

Esther. © Alastair Johnstone
Esther. © Alastair Johnstone

Name: Esther
Age: 25
Bike: Apollo CX10
Job: At the moment I’m working in a bar to get some money, but I’m actually working. I came here to do fashion design, actually at the moment I’m making cycle wear for women, reflective stuff.

How did you get into cycling?

I’m from the Netherlands, so it’s really obvious to cycle. Then my housemates, I live with 8 housemates, they’re like really into cycling. One of them works for a shop where she makes bikes and stuff and she fixed me this bike.

What do you love about cycling?

It’s easy to get to places.

What’s the best piece of riding advice you’ve been given?

Errrr, the best piece of riding advice? Always look both ways twice!

Why do you think so few women cycle instead of men?

I’ve been talking about this with friends and I think it’s because we are mostly told it is unsafe to cycle and you have to be really aware and I think that’s why women still feel unsafe about cycling, that there is too much going on maybe. Or even like harassment at some point like there are people screaming from cars, harassment.

Where’s your favourite place to cycle?

Holland is perfect, because cycling is so easy there. I’d also say that Amsterdam is still the most fun to ride a bike around.

Who do you usually cycle with?

On my own.

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