What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

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Postby meic » 25 Nov 2008, 8:07pm

The problem with hiding the truth is that they will find out when they try out cycling for themselves.
Two local people were inspired by my cycle experience (well more like " if he can do it why cant I?") and pretty quickly uninspired by the traffic being too close.
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Postby professorlandslide » 25 Nov 2008, 9:41pm

You get used to it, i find it feels pretty much the same as driving on the motorway and people do that for miles every day without thinking about it...

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Postby Cunobelin » 26 Nov 2008, 9:12am

paulah wrote:
Gisen wrote:A couple of the girls at work say that they would cycle but that they find it uncomfortable. Anyone have any good recommendations for ladies seats? (also they probably have the seat height set wrong)

Anything that's wide at the back to support the wider pelvis would be better, but even if they set the seat height correctly, it'll still probably be uncomfortable as the frame will have been designed for someone with a longer torso and longer arms and will be stretching too far.
This took me a while to work out when I started cycling again as an adult and it was only because of a lifetime's training in being cross-awkward and using inappropriate equipment from being left-handed that I managed to keep at it and eventually found that the dahon tourer fits quite well.

My wife found "Terry" branded goods excellent, based inthe US. Georgena (SiC)Terry evn has the acolade of a whle page by Sheldon Brown

Limited availability in the UK, but we order direct and have never had any problems.

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Postby Paul Power » 29 Nov 2008, 1:12pm

Interesting piece in the Times on the subject of encouraging more Muslim women to cycle. Amazing that Muslim men see a woman riding a bike as being in someway competing with what they as a man have to offer....

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life ... 238913.ece


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Postby Simon L6 » 30 Nov 2008, 8:34am

yech! It's only occasionally that I look at a Times article, and this patronising exercise in stereotypes is precisely why I detest the paper.

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Postby atoz » 1 Dec 2008, 4:47pm

When my Mum, now in her 80's, was in her late teens, she cycled with a friend to Blackpool overnight from Huddersfield. This was in the late 1930s. Obviously things were different then. Mind you, she also turned up at a club run with a new bike with the then white heat of technology, the 3 speed derailleur. This resulted in all the club members clustering round for a look at this amazing new technology. So maybe she wasn't all that representative...

If you look at the old movie clips and photos of the day, there was no shortage of women cyclists.

The difference now is the huge levels of traffic. Mind you, the driving standards of the 1930s were almost certainly pretty terrible- it's just most people didn't drive then.

As far as the personal safety angle is concerned- I'm not convinced it's much different. Certainly there's more publicity about the risks. But back then, people probably didn't talk about them. And of course, people are encouraged to think cars are inherently safer for personal security.

As far as women from ethnic minority communities are concerned, I note that in Bradford there is a project that has encouraged Asian women to ride bikes. In my experience, young Asian males are just as obsessed with cars as their white counterparts, so it should be interesting to see what the ultimate outcome is to this project.

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Postby KayG » 17 Dec 2008, 1:23pm

For what its worth as another female perspective on this...

I've ridden mountain bikes since I was about 5 or so, I am confident in traffic and have thrown my bike (not necessarily with me attached to it!) down the Cheddar Challenge track on a number of occasions (I should point out not while the competition was on going, we used to camp at the bottom of it each year) so am pretty confident putting my bike/myself back together after a spill. That said I've not found making the change to road riding at all easy.

I moved house about and after a knee injury decided to get a road bike to get fit rather than continue the damage I was doing to myself in the gym. Ok I thought, I know a bit about bikes, I've googled lots, I've read around the subject now lets give a couple of LBS's a go. Mistake no.1.

From a large chain shop who shall remain nameless to a number of small independent shops the attitude of those "helping" me stank. Patronising often didn't come close, and that was when they'd finished discussing the latest club ride with their collegues. Once they've established that you do know what a wheel is (yes there are two of them, they go round...) and that you know how to change gears they instead launch into technospeak. Ok I get the difference between something with 18 gears and 21 gears but I am no where near clued up enough to understand the relevance of the list of numbers you've just reeled off! So they go back to condecending. Now I could have just put it down to lousy sales technique in one store if I hadn't heard the same guy helping out a bloke earlier and explaining everything in accurate but understandable english.

If you want to get women into cycling these stores need to understand that we come in a range of flavours, from ditzy blond who needs the real basics explaining to those who know exactly what they're talking about. Being patronised or made to feel stupid is not a fast way to get people into it. Similarly the push to get women cycling seems to be coming from a health benefit perspective so the women you are targeting might not be the fittest. Again a hint to the bike stores I visited, that much testosterone kicking around isn't going to help, it intimidates. I'm sure you're amazing, that you cycled the Tour one legged, but quite frankly its not helping. It makes getting on a bike seem like something you have to be a marathon runner to do, not something you can work at.

Ok so I got my bike sorted... so far so well erm good.

My next bugbear I guess is something more for the manufacturers rather than something "fixable" by the cycling community. Cycle specific clothing, the sizing of. Now I'm not as thin as I should be, fair enough, but at a UK 14 I wouldn't consider myself to be massive. Gore clothing I'm an XL in and the leg warmers I can only just get to my knee never mind around my thighs. In fairness DHB has been a pretty good fit but I've not seen that on the shelf anywhere, I took a punt on wiggle. It might be a girl thing but it takes a pretty large sense of humour to keep trying on bigger and bigger sizes until something fits!

I really ought to mention at the end of that somewhat vitriolic rant that my local shop has been much nicer recently. That though was only really after I'd had the bike to bits myself to service it and needed a new stem as the original was too long. The fact that I had tackled it myself seemed to break the ice.

My top five (and in no particular order) for getting more women cycling then would be:
1) Friendlier or at least more helpful bike shops
2) Sensible sizing in clothing
3) Showers at work if you want us to commute (most of the women I know don't mind helmet hair/getting sweaty if we have somewhere to sort ourselves out when we get there)
4) Somewhere safe for us to keep our cycling gear/bike ie lockers/bike racks
5) More responsible drivers on the road

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Postby thirdcrank » 17 Dec 2008, 8:46pm

It's hard to see how 3)4)5) are exclusive to women.

I'll support 1) 100% having witnessed plenty of it. I do think it's fair to say though, that while women get the "don't trouble your pretty little head" type of thing, I think there are plenty of bike shops where all types of customer get poor treatment - I've had my share. If this is a barrier to cycling, it's not one that applies only to women.

That leaves 2/ While I'm sure it's right that this has an effect, it can't be the only thing that accounts for the disparity in numbers between male and female cyclists.

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Postby JQ666 » 17 Dec 2008, 8:57pm

thirdcrank wrote:
That leaves 2/ While I'm sure it's right that this has an effect, it can't be the only thing that accounts for the disparity in numbers between male and female cyclists.

My wife would never cycle on the main roads, and would never cycle up any kind of prolonged incline. This would be the case whether she had access to a good range of cycle clothing or not.

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Postby essexman » 18 Dec 2008, 8:41am

Gotta agree about bike retailers. Very few of them are helpful. There are some very pleasant exceptions.
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Postby KayG » 18 Dec 2008, 9:15am

Thirdcrank, you're probably right very few if any of them are exclusive to women. On the other hand with the push to go green maybe we should be encouraging as many people as possible to get on their bikes :)

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Postby thirdcrank » 18 Dec 2008, 8:38pm

KayG wrote:Thirdcrank, you're probably right very few if any of them are exclusive to women. On the other hand with the push to go green maybe we should be encouraging as many people as possible to get on their bikes :)

I could understand why you might not have ploughed through the entire thread but somewhere, in the deep long grass, there is one from me suggesting that the role of the CTC should be just that. In fact, I've found it

thirdcrank wrote:I've not seen the survey, probably wouldn't trust it if I did and having heard a few minutes of the 'Woman's Hour' discussion on this I'd pay even less attention to the typical hack's reinterpretation of the survey.

Having said all that it seems that everybody is agreed that women are substantially less likely to cycle than men possibly by a ratio of 3:1.

It seems crystal clear to me, therefore, that if you improve conditions for all cyclists, to the extent that say, twice as many men ride bikes as before, then twice as many women will also ride bikes. I've heard something like that before, I think it was called the Notional Cycling Strategy, or something along those lines. Unfortunately it was handed over to somebody who thought if somebody very important said it would be done, then it was as good as done so no need to do it (Sorry 3rd Mikado reference in two days :oops: ). Anyway the NCS was dropped and the CTC just rolled over to be tickled.

I really would have hoped that the CTC was above all the silly tittle tattle and would make the simple point that despite all the fine words, this government has done next to nothing to encourage cycling.

(Emphasis added)

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Postby richardyorkshire » 5 Jan 2009, 11:47pm

I hope you can forgive me for being a stats nerd, but ...

According to the DFT National Travel Survey 2007, 49% of male individuals and 36% of female individuals own a bicycle. Also, 43% of males and 29% of females have ridden a bicycle in the last 12 months.

According to a publication by the NHS called "Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet, England 2006", in 2004, 35% of men and 24% of women reported achieving the physical activity recommendations for adults. That is, 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity at least 5 times a week.

The same publication reports that, in 2003, 32% of men and 25% of women had engaged in some walking (i.e. brisk walking for at least 30 minutes continuously at least once in the last four weeks).

It looks to me like there is a general trend in Britain where men are more likely to engage in physical activity than women. This isn't peculiar to cycling.

So you can't answer the question posed in this thread by looking purely at cycling. Instead you need to ask why it is that British women don't engage in as much physical activity as British men.

I would suspect there are a number of different and subtle cultural pressures which discourage women from physical activity and/or encourage men.

To sort that out we just need to rebuild our culture from the ground up. Should be a doddle.
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Stourbug - more than 100 ladies new to cycling in 2009

Postby Ru88ell » 18 Jan 2009, 10:33pm

This is the third year that Stourbug has launched a ladies cycling challenge. This year we've had over 100 come to us to be trained to cycle from Stourbridge to Stratford upon Avon in May. We had 79 new ladies out cycling this weekend, and the great news is that the ones that we trained in the last two years are doing the training. I'd say that we've had around 110 ladies from Stourbridge out on bikes this weekend. Stourbridge has a population of 50,000.

If we tot up all the ones from 2007 and 2008, we've had nearly 250 out.

AND....we've done this without a single penny peice from the government.


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Postby Dee Jay » 19 Jan 2009, 1:22pm

Good stuff, Russell!

Is there 'somewhere' - a club or group - for them to continue the good work afterwards?