The LCC Women’s Freedom Ride is set to take place on 5 March, the Sunday before International Women’s Day. Hundreds have already signed up to this ride for women and their allies to pedal around central London and have a blast – but also to highlight the gender gap in cycling in London and lack of provision for women to cycle.
Along with our partners, Joy Riders and Londra Bisiklet Kulübü, the LCC Women’s Network is holding this event to call for a London where cycling is safe and inclusive enough for women to cycle in equal numbers to men. While in cycle-friendly cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam daily cycle trips are undertaken by more women than men, in London men’s cycle journeys outnumber women’s by 3 to 1.
The evidence is clear that women won’t cycle until they have protected, safe-feeling routes that suit them, and that when you create the conditions for women to cycle, that unlocks cycling for many others as well – including the elderly, children and people with disabilities. It would transform cycling in London into a form of everyday, healthy mass transport. But until women feel good cycling in London, we’re doomed to a car-dependent city.
So please join us on 5 March! The ride is open to all who identify as women or non-binary and their allies. Accompanied children are welcome too. It starts in central London at 11.30am and the ride will take about an hour – full details available when you register below. Not sure about getting there? Feeder rides are being organised from all over London, with ride leaders and marshals for a fun, safe ride to the start. Check whether your local LCC group, or Joy Riders or Cycle Sisters group, is running one.
The purpose of the Women’s Freedom Ride is to call on London’s Mayor and local boroughs to remove barriers to women cycling in London. It’s the first event to be organised by the new LCC Women’s Network, formed last year. The network steering group includes representatives of Joy Riders and Londra Bisiklet Kulübü, both highly effective organisations at empowering women to cycle.
The Women’s Network won’t just put on rides – we want to see change on the ground! We will be campaigning alongside and as part of LCC to make cycling in London fully inclusive for anyone and everyone who wants to cycle.
While London’s cycle network has improved considerably in the last decade, there are clearly still lots of barriers to most women feeling able to cycle. Only a third of cycle trips in London are made by women, despite making up 51% of the population. Here are the priority barriers we are campaigning on currently…
Not many people love mixing with lots of traffic when they cycle, but women are generally less willing to share a lane than men, as well as more likely to be travelling with children. Studies show women feel far more comfortable cycling on protected bike lanes or routes with low traffic – this study is a good example. So we’re calling for physical safety via high-quality cycle networks across London, which either provide separation from motor traffic or very low-traffic routes. Without these, we will not achieve gender equity in London’s cycle trips.
Cycle routes on poorly lit, socially-isolated routes such as through parks or along canals do not serve women because of fear of attack, limited exit opportunities and low lighting levels (including in winter). And on busy roads, drivers behave differently around women – the Near Miss Project found women reported a higher rate of ‘near misses’ when cycling. So we’re calling for social safety for women cycling. This could include making it easier for women to report abuse or dangerous driving when they cycle, and for police and the authorities to act far more diligently on such reports, as well as ensuring signed routes and cycle parking are well lit, feel safe at night and don’t use industrial estates, parks, canals and so on.
The planning of London’s cycle routes has mainly focused on radial commuter routes, converging on the centre. But commuting makes up only 15% of journeys and these journeys are primarily done by men. As an example, women in their thirties do four times the distance of ‘escorting education’ trips (taking kids to school) and half the distance of commuting trips compared to men of the same age (from Lucy Marstrand-Taussig). So we are calling for local cycle networks, such as low traffic neighbourhoods and safe routes to schools, to get the same priority as cycle corridors into central London.
The LCC Women’s Freedom Ride on 5 March is the first event from the new LCC Women’s Network. We’ve got plans for follow-up events including webinars and working groups. We want every woman’s voice to be heard in getting cycling unlocked for women in London. To get involved, sign up to our mailing list.
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