One hundred and forty girls are taking part in Beauty and the Bike sessions in York in a bid to boost female cyclist numbers.
The project, run by York City Council working with Sustrans, is aiming to tackle cycling’s image problem amongst females by targeting younger girls with the message that cycling can be fashionable. The sessions emphasise the health and fitness benefits, as well as providing participants with free ethical beauty product goodie bags from Lush.
According to National Children’s Bureau research, the number of female cyclists plummets when at secondary school age.
Graham Titchener, Cycling City York’s programme manager, said he believes initiatives like Beauty and the Bike are vital to tackle the decline. He told BikeBiz: “There needs to be an on-going effort. The commitment from the schools and parents, and the results for the current participants, will be invaluable. We’re hopeful about the project’s ability to provide a long-term boost to girl cyclist numbers, especially given the fantastic response we’ve had. It will help future and current generations, and hopefully we’ll begin to see the cultural shift we all hope for.
“I think having female-only opportunities is a good way forward, including cycle maintenance, training and events, whether organised through Cycling City York or our partners, including Bike Rescue.”
There are plans to get retailers involved too, Tichener added: “As we encourage more people of all ages to cycle, retailers will naturally become involved, but we’re also running a number of initiatives involving retailers and I plan to widen this further so we can better learn from the experience that they have here.”
The project is also gathering data from participants that may prove to be vital in addressing why women cycle less than men.
Vicki Hill, Sustrans events manager, ran the sessions on behalf of Cycling City York. She told BikeBiz: “When the project ends we’ll collate feedback from the girls. The report should reveal some of the causes behind what is stopping them from cycling.”