Launch of Jagonari Cycles project

Fifteen local Bengali women in Tower Hamlets became the first to benefit from a new bicycle training project called "Jagonari Cycles".

The women, all relatively novice on two wheels, will receive free training and access to a pool of bikes, with the help of local cycle group the Tower Hamlets Wheelers and the support of London Cycling Campaign's Community Cycling Project.

The project is being launched at the Jagonari Centre, a Bengali women's community resource centre on Whitechapel High Street, East London.

Lucy Davis of the London Cycling Campaign explained:

"Women who sign up will begin cycle training between now and April. At the end of April, when the weather improves, there'll be a women-only group ride in the local area. Then there will be rides every month to help build awareness of the training scheme."

Nurjahan Khatun of the Jagonari Centre said:

"I studied in Cambridge and all my friends there cycled but, at the time, my parents felt it wasn't safe for me to ride a bike. I regret that now so when this project was first mentioned I was really keen to take part.

"I was really inspired by an older friend who's a teacher. She wears full Muslim dress but still manages to cycle everywhere.

"By learning to ride bikes we're bringing down social stereotypes and encouraging other women to take part."

Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member for the Green Party, attended the launch. She said:

"The major advantage of cycling is that it frees you from public transport. Public transport is great and I use it every day but when you ride a bike you know exactly how long it will take to get where you're going and you can leave whenever you want.

"It also makes you much healthier. You're getting fresh air and exercise and it's healthier for the city. We have major pollution and congestion and we all have to play our part in improving our city.

"I'm looking forward to joining the women on their first ride."

Photos of the women with the bright orange bikes and with Jenny Jones are available, along with photos of the women with a giant 'Jagonari Cycles!' banner.

For more information, please call Kerry Noble on 07815 902 560.