What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

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essexman
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Postby essexman » 22 Sep 2008, 9:08am

Meanwhile a similar question was posed today. Why are there so few male Primary school teachers?


Several reasons:
-Its a traditional female career so there are the normal barriers to any profession which is dominated by a single sex. Of course women who break these sex barriers are glorified in todays society. Men less so.
-In this day and age men who work with small children are viewed suspicously (its a grotesque but real aspect of our society)
I hate snow.

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essexman
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Postby essexman » 22 Sep 2008, 9:18am

anyway back to topic....

So the fashion world is full of images of glamorous women cycling and they have these wonderful role models, so if there are barriers they are fear\danger \caution\lack of knowledge.

So.. how to address those?
-Safety Training
-Clear solutions to all of the obvious hassles of cycling
-Positive promotion of the benefits
-SUPPORT. Provide the support to help people get started. For most people this is usually a friend or colleague.

Does anyone know of succesful local examples where these issues have been addressed?
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Dee Jay
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Postby Dee Jay » 22 Sep 2008, 9:49am

CJ wrote:
What it needs, for women to see cycling as something for them, is for well-known female role models (celebrities if you like) to be seen riding practical city-style bicycles in normal, fashionable clothes – with make-up and without helmets. It’s something that can be seen everyday on the streets of Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Zurich, Vienna … in London however they see a load of lycra-clad helmetted road-warriors.


<snip>

To them these images serve to reinforce the idea that cycling is an extremely demanding sport with no relevance to most people's everyday lives.


<snip>

IMHO the best thing that existing cyclists can do is forsake the lycra and helmet in favour of normal street clothes whenever they’re using a bike for transport themselves. Demonstrate by our own example that cycling can be normal, like it is in Holland, Germany, Denmark …


Despite what I said about my biggest obstacle to 'everyday' cycling is distance x 'luggage', I do think that the above would be a good idea if it was achievable. Although, I afraid that I am wedded to my helmet! :D

It is about normalising
.



Edited for clarity
Last edited by Dee Jay on 23 Sep 2008, 12:18pm, edited 1 time in total.
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kwackers
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Postby kwackers » 22 Sep 2008, 9:59am

essexman wrote:anyway back to topic....

So the fashion world is full of images of glamorous women cycling and they have these wonderful role models, so if there are barriers they are fear\danger \caution\lack of knowledge.

So.. how to address those?
-Safety Training
-Clear solutions to all of the obvious hassles of cycling
-Positive promotion of the benefits
-SUPPORT. Provide the support to help people get started. For most people this is usually a friend or colleague.

Does anyone know of succesful local examples where these issues have been addressed?


I've never really understood why equality means doing more...

Dee Jay
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Postby Dee Jay » 22 Sep 2008, 10:10am

eileithyia wrote:I work with a wide range of women all of child bearing age. As a child of the 60's brought up to be independant, to work for my living and make my way in the world, and lived thru the fight for equality etc., it never ceases to amaze just how girlie todays teens and twenty year olds are.

I make sure that I tell my children - especially my daughter - that not so very long ago things were very different. It's easy to forget - in these 'post-feminist' times that until comparitively recently women couldn't vote, work in any career, make choices without her husband's permission or decided not to have children. And my children are always suitably amazed! I remember singing 'Sister Suffragette' when they were very young.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QUhwA-C-ACg

We only have to see the accessories so many cars are adorned with, pink fluffly bits over the steering wheel etc., to see where so many young women are heading these days.

I know ... :roll:

Maybe it is a kick back against feminism, but so many are dependant, girlie and totally uninterested in any form of exercise.

I does rather depend on their role models, I think.

Some years ago I was asked did I not get sweaty when cycling!!!!!!!!!
It would certainly back up the the argument that cycling = sweaty = not for girlies. Yet the same person would sweat buckets at the night club or at the gym (but then there are shower at the gym).

This is very true.

So CTC sort your own depts out first please.

Note to the Moderators: Can I go out on a limb here? And ask whether any of the Mods are female? I had assumed not ... but perhaps I'm wrong? If none of you is female, how about appointing a female Mod on here? I think that would be a fabulous step in the right direction.

Any thoughts about this .... from anyone?



Edited for clarity
Last edited by Dee Jay on 23 Sep 2008, 12:15pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dee Jay
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Postby Dee Jay » 22 Sep 2008, 10:23am

CliveA wrote: "Female cyclists aren't always sweaty hippies with bad hair - it is possible to be a cyclist and to be attractive."


Nothing wrong with 'sweaty hippies with 'bad' hair, but this is why you will find posts - on these forums - from me, which reference glamour and lipstick. It's my way of countering stereotypes - should they exist - and normalising. And *that* would MY normality! :D

That's why I was delighted to read that ManxCat cycled to dinner in her skorts with her high-heels strapped to the back of her bike!
Dee

PaulB
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Postby PaulB » 22 Sep 2008, 9:19pm

Seriously tho', I'm sure it is a "lifestyle" thing (women riding bikes). On the continent cycling is a "normal" activity and, as has already been mentioned on this forum, over here it is a "fringe activity" persued by enthusiasts. I suspect that those of us who subscribe to this forum are enthusiasts for cycling. Read some other postings and there are all kinds of debates about what to wear and what to ride, to the point where I wonder if anyone just gets on their bike in normal clothes and enjoys a gentle pootle around the lanes anymore. Our crammed roads and hectic lifestyles seem a million miles away from the laid back cafe culture of the continent where to cycle is normal and they actually take time for lunch!

With the wet summer we have had, I am not surprised few women (or for that matter men) are seen out on their bikes. The more Lycra clad riders in club gear that are seen on the road, wearing funny shoes, the more the image of cycling will be pushed into the fringe activity area. In Amsterdam the number of "racing" bikes is greatly swamped by people riding old sit up and beg machines and nearly everyone rides - minus helmets! Let's face it cycling is not a normal UK activity anymore; far too working class.

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Postby thirdcrank » 22 Sep 2008, 10:18pm

Image

A mum in these parts 50ish years ago combining childcare with a spot of cycling over the Yorkshire version of pavé. (Looks like a 'fixie' to me, except the silly term had not been invented.)

There is a cycling mum around here who has a trailer and does the girlie bit by wrapping her bike frame in bright pink furry stuff. Glamorous too - she generally rides in a bikini. I should be too shy to ask for a pic to illustrate this thread :oops:

eileithyia
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Postby eileithyia » 23 Sep 2008, 8:47am

Ah TC that was one very famous mum!

She cycled everywhere cos they did not have a car: work (via childcare), to races then joined the club run, dinners, winter YHA weekends... the list is endless.

When the summers have been hot enough I have been known to ride in a bikini top in order to get my back bronzed, would not inflict the post pregnancy shape on anyone these days :lol:



Back on subject, sorry but I will not giving up my lycra too soon, women specific fit cycle clothing can be both glam/stylish and functional. this is why despair at the baggy cheap stuff in Aldi. The CTC shop stuff is no better either.
However that essential item I will not leave home without;...... my lippy :lol:

Dee, It also amazes me just how recently it was women were unable to get a mortgage without their father standing as a guarantor for the repayment!
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

CliveA
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Postby CliveA » 23 Sep 2008, 9:52am

Wow.

Amazed to see how this thread has grown and grown - obviously a topic of interest to many people.

Of the points that have been made, I think one of the most valuable is the observation that the opinions of women who already cycle are maybe not as relevant to this as the opinions of women who don't currently cycle.

To be fair, none of us are seeing this through the eyes of the people we're discussing - non-cycling women. And we may find it silly to worry about 'helmet hair' or perceived sweatiness, but if those ideas are on the minds of people who don't cycle, then they should be taken seriously.

(And PaulB - I'm not sure if cycling is really seen as a 'working class' activity these days. Very possibly the opposite.)

Kirst
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Postby Kirst » 23 Sep 2008, 10:03am

I'm female and a fairly new and inexperienced cyclist - although I cycled a lot as a child, I stopped in my teens and didn't take it up again until about May last year. Although I can drive, I've never owned a car, so I didn't have to be persuaded to stop using the convenient car. I just wanted to avoid the bus nightmare of getting to work on the other side of town while Edinburgh's tramworks are going on and my employer offers the bike to work scheme so it seemed like a good idea.

The advantages for me are

    it's cheap - no more bus fares
    it incorporates exercise into my daily routine and also saves me money on gym membership
    it's green
    it's fun
    I get to see ducks and squirrels
    I also get to see dead rats and pigeons(no dead badgers yet though)
    I don't have to worry about parking spaces
    I have learnt a lot of cool new swear words to use on errant motorists

On the other hand, Edinburgh is cobbled, hilly, windy, wet and often icy, the traffic is a nightmare, although many of my employer's workplaces have showers, they rarely have hairdryers, anywhere to keep or plug in a hairdryer, enough or big enough lockers, drying rooms etc so I have resigned myself to having crap hair at work and frequently being damp (and not in a good way). I don't care about makeup though, I wear that about twice a year. I suppose my job is slightly different though - I don't commute in, stay in the office all day, and commute home - I commute in, go out on client visits during the day and commute home, so I spend a lot of time out on the bike and showering at client's houses wouldn't be an option!

In my experience, there are lots of women who quite like the idea of cycling but don't because

    they're scared of the traffic
    they feel they're not fit enough to cope with the hills here
    the weather's mental
    they haven't been on a bike for years and aren't sure how they'd cope


On the other hand, I can think of three women who have taken up cycling to work because they saw me doing it and realised it was possible. The likes of Elle McPherson and Agness Deyn and Victoria Pendleton are all very well, but they're not role models for ordinary women with ordinary lives. If we want to show successful female cyclists to encourage women to cycle, we need to show them women with lives they can relate to, riding in environments they can relate to.
I can handle bars and cycle paths but I can't handle cars and psychopaths

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EMD_Nic

Postby EMD_Nic » 23 Sep 2008, 7:44pm

I know one of the things that put me off cycling for many years was the simple lack of decent cycle ways and rubbish British weather.

And while we haven't been able to do anything about the weather the cycleways have got better and I am out and about on my bike more now than I ever have been (even went for a ride today for fun...shock horror)

I would actually like to be able to take the cycle instructors course and be able to teach women cycle sense to get them back on two wheels, but cost at the moment stops me from doing that.

However I think there is a case in point many women are put off cycling because of the guys and a perceived level of competitiveness. When most women cycle its because they want to do it for leisure, not to get somewhere really fast wearing more lycra than any one human being should at anyone time.

There needs to be an effort made to show cycling as being something which is fun as well as good for the health, but that does not need to be competitive and isn't compulsory in the bad weather.

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Postby thirdcrank » 23 Sep 2008, 8:31pm

eileithyia wrote:that was one very famous mum!

She cycled everywhere cos they did not have a car: work (via childcare), to races then joined the club run, dinners, winter YHA weekends... the list is endless. ...

Back on subject, !


eileithyia

It appears that fame is ephemeral - the mighty Beryl Burton does not seem to have been recognised by many on here. Bearing in mind that we have been reading about some of the possible obstacles to women cycling, I should have thought the pic and your succinct note were 100% on topic.

I've scanned a few more pics.

Image

Childcare during track racing. (The jersey is that of world champion.)

This pic is reminiscent of Fanny Blankers-Koen's children playing in the long jump sandpit as she won her 1948 Olympic gold medal.

Image

It was normal until quite recently for women to lose their jobs if they became pregnant - sometimes even if they married. Beryl Burton was no exception and after the birth of her daughter, Denise, she worked as a labourer on a local rhubarb farm (Morley is said to be the world centre of rhubarb production)

Image

Mother and by now teenage daughter on the start line representing their country at the worlds championships. I picked this one as a note for the 'sweaty hair brigade'. The rather fetching headgear is what they now call a hairnet. :lol:

As well as completely dominating women's bike racing in this country for well over a quarter of a century, Beryl Burton was a world champion seven times when the UK really was the Cinderella nation of the sport. The rules of time trialling were changed to allow women to race against men and in 1967 she became the national 12 hour champion and record holder with a mark of 277.25 miles i.e. she beat the men in open competition in an endurance event.

I would add that Beryl Burton figured prominently in the comic from the moment I took up cycling. I don't remember ever seeing a cover pic of her riding with her kit off. I tend to think that if any photographer had suggested it, even in those far off swingin' sixties, the search for the camera would have involved somebody with long-cuffed rubber gloves and a big torch - with probably an epidural from eileithya. :shock:

Dee Jay
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Postby Dee Jay » 23 Sep 2008, 8:57pm

Gosh! I didn't know who she was, but thought that she looked wonderfully glam and stylish.

And what a truly inspirational and humbling backstory to the pics.

Thank you.
Dee

thirdcrank
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Postby thirdcrank » 23 Sep 2008, 9:06pm

DeeJay

I didn't mention that she had quite a deprived childhood including spending 9 months in hospital with the medievally named St Vitus' Dance. At one point she was partially paralysed.