- Rachel Riley becomes Breeze Ambassador.
- Dame Sarah Storey profiles #WeRide Initiative.
- Minister for sport, Tracey Crouch, applauds British Cycling’s efforts and calls for others to follow.
- Barriers to getting women into sport still need to be broken down.
New British Cycling ‘Breeze’ ambassador Rachel Riley joined Dame Sarah Storey and Sport England chief executive Jennie Price in central London today to reveal the latest milestone in British Cycling’s strategy to influence one million more women to ride a bike regularly by 2020.
They announced that 254,000 more women are now cycling regularly as a result of British Cycling interventions than in March 2013 – when British Cycling launched the #WeRide campaign.
Crucially, today’s report also reveals that newcomers to cycling are more likely to continue riding their bikes now than those who took up in the sport in 2013. Three in four women who take up cycling now continue to ride their bikes – an increase of 25% in 2014 alone.
The progress is built on the widely popular Breeze programme, which delivers thousands of women-only recreation rides with the aim to help women feel confident and comfortable about going on a ride, to a new level of 50km and 100km challenge events as a way to encourage women to challenge themselves to ride further.
Plus working with national partners such as Halfords to reach new cyclists and complementing initiatives such as Sport England’s #ThisGirlCan.
Ultimately though, we need more help, and success in reaching the 2020 figure will require everyone involved in cycling and women’s sport to work together. It will also take a real effort to address the culture in cycling and throughout sport that has created such gender imbalances in the first place.
Dame Sarah Storey said: “Cycling has transformed my life, and I’ve been able to achieve a lot on a bike.
“But cycling isn’t only about medals – it’s a simple, affordable, sociable and environmentally friendly way to get around and stay healthy. More than 250,000 more women regularly cycling is great news, but it’s the tip of the iceberg.
“There are millions of women in Britain who I’m convinced would love to cycle but are put off by perceptions around safety or stereotypes – we’re here to smash those stereotypes and show that cycling is for everyone”
Rachel Riley, new Breeze Ambassador said: “Its brilliant news that over 250,000 more women are cycling regularly, I’m proud to be one of them and to be joining British Cycling as a Breeze Ambassador today.
Interest in cycling amongst women is really high but there are still so many more of us who could get on our bikes who don't yet. With fun, social, local bike rides for women that go at a pace to suit anyone, Breeze is a really easy way to get involved!
Breeze is playing a major part in the progress British Cycling are making towards their 2020 target and it’s becoming more and more popular every day. I want to help British Cycling continue to build on this to make it even bigger and better for the future.”
Tracey Crouch, minister for sport, said: "I applaud the work of British Cycling to date in getting more women on their bikes and enjoying the sport. I hope to see other governing bodies follow in their footsteps with similar moves, encouraging more women to get involved in sport.
"The government is committed to safe cycling and will continue to work with British Cycling and Sport England to encourage even greater participation."
Jennie Price OBE, chief executive of Sport England, said: “It is good to see more women are cycling regularly but there is still a perception that cycling is a sport dominated by middle aged men in lycra.
“I’m very pleased to see British Cycling are working to address this through their #WeRide campaign by creating a welcoming environment for women and girls to get involved and I strongly support their approach.
“From our This Girl Can campaign we know women who feel welcomed into sport and not judged about their ability, size or how they look are much happier being active, and it is good to see those principles being applied by a major governing body.”
Stewart Kellett, British Cycling’s director of recreation and partnerships outlined the plan for #WeRide going forward:
#WeRide’s aims for 2015 and beyond include the following highlights:
- We will continue to expand our national presence by working alongside the home nations to roll out our ever-growing Breeze programme throughout Scotland and Wales.
- We will prioritise working with national partners – such as Halfords – to extend our reach and help grow participation.
- In 2015, we will grow the number of Breeze Challenge Events to three, building upon the success of the 2014 pilot.
- An enhanced Women’s Tour for 2015 will include extended stage lengths to improve the quality of racing and the overall reach of the event.
- British Cycling will support clubs to promote girls-only races with additional prizes and resources.
- We will leverage Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign to encourage more women to engage in cycling.
- Our communication will continue to highlight the increasing opportunities for women to get involved in all areas of our sport.
Women can find their nearest ride by visiting www.breezebikerides.com