Concern over the safety of cycling on the road is the biggest barrier to more women cycling, new research reveals.
More than 41 per cent of women surveyed by bike insurance provider Laka (opens in new tab) state safety concerns and vulnerability of cycling alone as their main apprehension over transport on two wheels.
42 per cent of women in the UK do not feel confident riding a bike on the road, while almost half of women, 45 per cent, said well-lit cycle lanes would encourage them to travel by bike.
"The data is showing that women are more likely to cycle if they have proper and safe infrastructure. But you also need to incorporate children into cycling as lots of women are looking after them a lot of the time," said Sylvia from North West London, who started riding a cargo bike out of necessity after not wanting to do the 50-minute bus journey to their school every day.
"You need something you don’t need to worry about like hub gears so everything is contained with less maintenance. And then physical things like the two-tiered bike racks, I can’t put my bike up there because it's too heavy. So we need to design infrastructure for the less abled person so that it works for everybody else."
Sylvia thinks it's more the perception of danger in the eyes of the public, which is reinforced by the media, than the reality of how dangerous cycling is.
"There’s also the perception of danger. I mean cycling is not inherently dangerous but when you cycle to work people always think you’re ‘brave’," Sylvia explains. "Because when it's discussed in the media it's within the frame of danger, someone getting knocked off, etc, The whole narrative around cycling needs to change."
Jess, also from London, agrees that the perception of danger on the road is one of the main reasons.
"I think women are more likely to let the perception of danger stop them from starting cycling. Whereas men are less likely to let the perception of danger stop them from giving it a go in the first place," she said.
"Also gender stereotypes. As you get older girls aren't encouraged to be sportier, they’re encouraged to be more feminine. Wearing lycra on a bike isn't particularly feminine. When you don't have lots of girls cycling, then other girls are less likely to take part themselves."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.