British Cycling has today launched Breeze, a National Lottery funded nationwide network of bike rides to introduce over 80,000 women to bike riding.
Breeze bike rides will be short, traffic-free rides, ideal for busy mums and any women who haven't been on a bike for a while and would like to go for a casual bike ride with a small group of women from their area.
Breeze is British Cycling's response to the growing gap between the number of men and women riding their bikes. Currently three times as many men take part in cycling regularly and the gap is growing, yet research suggests that nearly one million British women would like to ride a bike more often.
In 2011 British Cycling surveyed over 1,000 women to find out what was discouraging them from riding. Results showed that safety concerns, lack of knowledge of routes and having no-one to cycle with were the key barriers to getting involved.
The Breeze rides will be organised by British Cycling trained local 'Breeze champions' and fit around busy work and family lives.
Natalie Justice, Network Manager at British Cycling, said:
“Currently only two per cent of women cycle regularly compared to six per cent of men yet we know that nearly one million women would like the opportunity to get out on their bikes and socialise with other women.
"Breeze gives them the chance to do just that on their doorstep and change cycling for women forever. If you'd like to get out on your bike, whether it's for the first time or after a long break, Breeze is for you."
The first Breeze bike rides will start in June and roll out in towns and cities across England over the coming months. As part of the programme, British Cycling will train and support 1,000 local Breeze champions, female volunteers who will add their riders to the Breeze network at times to suit them and their groups.
Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: "Breeze is responding to what women want by offering them a fun and flexible way to get involved in cycling. Our investment of almost one million pounds of Lottery funding in Breeze will help us to tackle the gender gap in sport and deliver a mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games."
Breeze is funded by the National Lottery via Sport England's Active Women's Fund. The promotion aims to convert 20,000 of the 80,000 women reached into regular cyclists over the next three years.
British Cycling's Breeze has nothing to do with MTB innovator Joe Breeze or the bike brand Breezer.