MP says "It's never too late to learn"
New cycling champions share their experiences at walking and cycling conference
The Welsh Assembly Government's walking and cycling conference on September 22 had a group of brand new cyclists in its midst.
Among them was Rosemary Butler - National Assembly Member for Newport West who, by learning to cycle later in life with Sustrans Cymru, is determined to get more people, especially women, turning to two-wheeled travel. She even encouraged her personal assistant Katie O'Brien to learn at the same time.
Until recently, Rosemary was one of the 67 per cent of women in Wales that never cycle at all. But a series of one-to-one training sessions this summer with Sustrans Cymru has given her the confidence to ride a bike.
Rosemary said: "Having never cycled before, I was very keen to become a Sustrans champion. I'm hoping I can lead by example by taking my bike out on the new Sustrans Connect2 route in Caerleon - showing that it's never too late to learn! It will also be great to be able to cycle with my grandchildren."
Rosemary and her PA Katie are among six women cycling champions in Wales, including Jenny Willott MP, Nerys Evans AM and local businesswoman Judith James. All have undergone training this summer to improve their cycling confidence. Many of the women had never cycled as children, so overcoming their fears has been a real achievement. It is hoped they will now use their bikes more often for local journeys and be an inspiration to other women who would like to cycle more.
Jane Lorimer, Sustrans Cymru Deputy Director, said: "All of our cycling champions have approached the challenge with enthusiasm and determination, and it's been a joy to watch their progress over the months.
"Sustrans has made it a priority to cater for the needs of women during 2009, as we know that they are far less likely to cycle than men, and we want that to change. Cycling should be an easy and natural choice for everyone, and hopefully our champions will help us get that message out there."
From Tuesday 1 September to the end of November women in Wales will join others across Britain by adding their name to a petition at www.bikebelles.org.uk in support of ‘Motion for Women', Sustrans' urgent plea to governments to make road conditions safer for women to cycle.