British Cycling is to create the National Women’s Cycling Network to help women of all ages and ability to organise fun, recreational group bike rides for other women in their local area.
Over the next three years, 1,000 female cycling champions will be trained to become ride leaders, equipped with the information and know-how to organise group rides on local routes - planned and mapped by them. The programme will draw inspiration from the success of Britain’s top women elite cyclists and will aim to reach women in every local authority in England. Its long-term aim will be to encourage 20,000 women to cycle at least once a week.
It’s one of 20 projects backed as part of Sport England’s £10 million Active Women campaign to tackle the gender gap in sport. It aims to encourage women with children and those from disadvantaged communities to play more sport as part of the drive to deliver a mass participation legacy from London 2012.
Last month, new Sport England figures revealed the size of the gender gap in sport. At present, one in eight (2.761 million) women regularly play sport in England. Whilst this has increased significantly in the past five years, it still trails behind men’s participation, with one in five (4.176 million) taking part.
Over the past two years, the number of women cycling once a week has decreased despite an overall increase in cycling participation.
The National Women’s Cycling Network will be delivered by British Cycling, the national governing body for cycle sport. Ian Drake, British Cycling’s Chief Executive, said:
“We are delighted that Sport England has awarded us funding to roll out this ambitious project designed to get more women on their bikes. We have had significant success in increasing participation in cycling through Sky Ride, and we will take our experience in this area to launch a bespoke programme for women that will be delivered by women. Our female athletes are the best in the world and we want to use that as an inspiration to attract thousands more women to our sport.”