At the end of 2017, a year after Love Velo had launched, we undertook some research which showed a massive 88% of all our bookings were made by men between the ages of 30-55. Our holidays were being booked at a tremendous rate but that was almost exclusively by MAMILs, a clumsy, horrible acronym which only serves to exclude not just women, but anybody who does not share the view that cycling is pointless unless your head is over the handlebars with a sultry look on your face. By the end of 2019, 2 years later, than number had shrunk from 88% to 75%. We were seeing more women cycling in general and more women booking our cycling holidays.
The thing is, that number still remains far too high. If women make up 51% of the population, why is it that in the middle of the last decade, on average, men made three times as many
cycle trips each year as women in the UK? Those numbers are not radically different in each of Australia, the USA or Canada.
Being immersed in the cycling industry, we know of the importance of that first bike ride. The first time someone commutes to work, the first time they go for a leisurely spin with friends, the first time they put on a helmet and realise they share too much road space with motorists. That is why we need the campaign for safer cycling needs to be at the forefront of UK transport policy. It leads to healthier lives, a greener environment and fundamentally it leads to a closing of the gender gap. Just look at Denmark and Holland, the flagbearers of safe cycling. There is virtually no difference between the number of men who cycle and the number of women who cycle. The reason being is that the biggest barrier to cycling, cycle safety, is not an issue in these countries. Huge cycle paths, not just sheltered from the road, but completely separate from traffic, often behind hedge rows and trees, remove any fear from 2 wheeled transport. We aren’t so naïve as to think that we can do exactly the same in our major cities, this is a generational thing and we have just never previously designed cities for sustainable transport. We can however continue to push the cause for cycle safety. We can lobby for cycling highways, for more cycling traffic lights and for better protected and properly maintained cycle paths. We can lobby for cities to be designed around sustainable transport and if we continue as a movement, we will bring change that reduced the gender gap in our great activity/past time/sport.