TfL launches campaign to support women into cycling
TfL is marking International Women's Day by launching a campaign to encourage more women to take up cycling.
The Cycle Your City campaign will run throughout 2020 with a series of workshops and events and a programme of activity will be announced in May.
Women are underrepresented among Londoners who cycle. Although three quarters of women in London know how to ride a bike, only 13% currently cycle*.
Through the Cycle Your City campaign, TfL will work with a diverse group of women and organisations to build an in-depth picture of women's experiences of cycling across the capital.
With this project, TfL aims to:
- Inspire a change in perceptions about riding a bike by highlighting women's personal stories about the benefits of cycling
- Commission new research and carry out engagement to better understand the barriers to cycling faced by women
- Establish what further work TfL can do to tackle these barriers
Feedback from Cycle Your City will be used to inform TfL policy that will encourage and enable more women to cycle in the future.
Cycling has grown faster in London than any other form of travel over the past ten years. The total distance cycled in London on an average day in 2018 exceeded 4 million km for the first time, the highest figure since monitoring began in 2015 and an increase of almost five per cent from the previous year.
New research shows that where TfL has invested in new high-quality cycling routes, two thirds of women feel safer and more confident cycling on the capital's streets**.
However, research has also shown that people using London's cycling infrastructure are not reflective of the wider population.
The reasons why many women choose not to cycle are well acknowledged, including the fear of being involved in a collision, concerns around too much traffic and not feeling confident.
But there are also less well understood concerns, such as lack of representation within the cycling industry, experiences of harassment and hostility, and negative public perceptions. TfL recognises that these issues need further exploration.
Help inspire women
A TfL survey** undertaken by 1,792 women across London has revealed that 60% of female cyclists would be encouraged to cycle more if they saw more women of their age and background cycling, this is particularly true of women under 25.
For women who currently don't cycle, 64% said they would cycle if they saw more people like them.
In response, TfL has launched a search for ambassadors who can help inspire other women through cycling in 2020.
TfL is seeking a range of voices - from complete novices keen to try cycling, to more experienced riders to share their personal stories about cycling in London.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: 'We are proud that thousands more Londoners each year are discovering the many benefits of cycling, from better health to reducing carbon emissions.
'We are doing everything we can to make cycling safer and our growing network of Cycleways is enabling more Londoners of all backgrounds and abilities to cycle safely and with confidence.
'But as these new findings show, more work still needs to be done, particularly when it comes to getting more women on a bike.
'I am delighted that TfL is launching this important new campaign which will enable us to address the barriers that are holding women in London back from cycling.'
Christina Calderato, TfL's Head of Transport Strategy and Planning, said: 'We invest heavily in making cycling in London safer and easier for everyone.
'Despite lots of improvement, women are still persistently underrepresented in London's cycling community. It's clear we need to change that, so they can access the range of benefits that cycling can bring.
'We need fresh thinking, which is why we're launching a campaign to work with women who cycle along with those who don't, to better understand the challenges they face. Their feedback will inform our decision-making to ensure every Londoner can cycle in our city.'
TfL will work with its ambassadors to provide support and advice to try something new and connect them to campaign partners who can deliver free training, mentoring and experiences.
This could be anything from helping them to build their skills on the road, providing training on how to fix a puncture or supporting them to transition from a regular bike to an electric or cargo bike. Bikes and other cycling kit could be provided depending on the activity.
Free training, mentoring and experiences
Women who don't currently cycle, or do but would like to do more, are encouraged to apply by emailing TfL at firstname.lastname@example.org, highlighting what they would like to learn and why.
Natalia Fricker, Fawcett Society Campaigns Communications Manager, said: 'Cycling is a feminist issue. The ongoing gender gap in cycling is a result of patriarchal systems and behaviour that either directly or indirectly exclude women - from unequal pay to harassment.
'This prevents women from accessing the many positive lifestyle changes that cycling can bring, such as improved health from regular exercise and being outdoors, saving money on public transport, and, most importantly, the feeling of freedom, self-reliance and independence.
"These issues need to be addressed by understanding and taking action on the issues and barriers specific to women. It is very positive to see TfL addressing this through this campaign.'
Nilisha Vashist, University College London Students' Union Women's Officer, said: 'We really welcome TfL's initiative to get more women cycling. There are obvious positive effects of cycling, including improving health and benefiting the environment.
'However, we know not many female students choose cycling to get around, and there are number of reasons for this. We look forward to working with TfL to overcome these issues and make cycling the preferred option for female students.'
Salome Gongadze, Vice Chair of TfL's Youth Panel, said: 'We're so excited that TfL is launching a campaign to get more women to experience the benefits of cycling.
'We know that young women, particularly those aged between 16-24, would be encouraged to take up cycling if they saw more people like them taking part.
'We're pleased that TfL will be working with us to ensure more young women see cycling as something for them. We encourage other young women to get involved with Cycle Your City, whether it's by providing feedback, participating in events, or signing up to be an ambassador.'
Veronica Chamberlain, British Cycling's NW London Area Breeze Coordinator, said: 'We look forward to working with TfL on the issues that prevent women from cycling, especially driver behaviour and street design, in 2020 and beyond.
'Cycling brings so many opportunities to enjoy London, whether that be taking children and grandchildren to school, going to work, shopping, visiting friends or leisure pursuits. If women see that it is safe and easy to cycle, they will.'
On International Women's Day, TfL is also announcing that the March winner of the 10th anniversary Cycle Hire competition is Habiba Khanam, a nurse from Bow who commutes daily to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
International Women's Day
Habiba Khanam said: 'Nothing gives me greater pleasure than being able to pop on and off a Santander bike, with the convenience of a dock near my flat and one right next to the hospital where I work.
'It always feels amazing to be able to enjoy a bike ride after a 13-hour shift! Thanks Santander, from a grateful cycling nurse!'
This follows the news that Andy Smith, who has cycled more than 2,400 times since the scheme began in 2010 - a total of 463 hours and around 6,900 km - was named as February winner.
Both will have Cycle Hire bikes named after them and receive a free annual membership. Each month a winner will be selected, and the competition is still open for entries.
The Mayor has set the bold aim of doubling cycle journeys in the capital by 2024. Alongside this, is the goal of everyone achieving 20 minutes active travel a day.
Breaking down the barriers that prevent women cycling could boost cycling in London overall by around 10%, the equivalent of more than 50,000 extra journeys per day.
*TfL Customer Pulse Survey, cycling module. Online panel survey of 1,292 people carried out between 15 September and 12 October 2019. Sample includes 991 responses from a representative sample of Londoners and 301 from a cycling specific sample boost.
**An online quantitative survey of 1,792 women was carried out in February 2020. Of the representative sample of women living in London, fewer than 300 had cycled in London in the past 12 months. Fieldwork took place between 17 - 26 February 2020.
Notes to editors
- People interested in volunteering as an ambassador should email email@example.com
- TfL and the Mayor recently announced that protected space for cycling across London has tripled over the past four years, with over 160km of lanes either completed or under construction
- Construction work currently underway includes Cycleway 4, a major new route in southeast London between Tower Bridge and Greenwich, and Cycleway 9, a 15km segregated route between Brentford and Olympia in west London
- TfL and Santander are searching for people who hired the cycles within the first year of the scheme, people who have completed the most journeys or people who have a unique story to share about the cycles. Each month a winner will be selected, and these 12 winners will be rewarded with a Santander Cycles named after them, free annual membership and other prizes. People can share their experiences of the cycle hire scheme by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win. Terms and Conditions for the Cycle Hire 10th anniversary competition can be found here on the TfL website: tfl.gov.uk/corporate/terms-and-conditions/competitions
- Women who would be interested in taking part in a women-only British Cycling Breeze ride can sign up here: https://www.letsride.co.uk/breeze