By Sabrina Sahota and Georgia Trodd.
Women don’t feel safe cycling on the roads, according to a Dorset cycle campaigner.
New figures released today have shown that there are less women cycling than men. According to Sustrans, the walk and cycle charity, around 50% fewer women than men cycle twice a week or more.
The BBC recently reported that the cited reasons as to why female cyclists avoid the saddle are due to fears of harassment and safety.
This doesn’t appear to be the case in Bournemouth. Paul Jeffrey at Bournemouth Cycleworks says he hasn’t noticed harassment or a decline on female cyclists visiting their shop.
‘Based on footfall in the store there has actually been an increase in female cyclists. I can’t say I’ve seen any cases particularly.’
Bournemouth is well known for its cycling facilities, introducing cycle lanes around the town between 2012 and 2014 in order to make the roads more safe.
However according to Sustrans, the numbers of female cyclists compared to male cyclists drop even further when it comes to cycling on the roads.
Dilys Gartside, at Cycle Wise, runs cycle training courses for women in Dorset. She believes the low number of women cycling is due to lack of safety infrastructure which is discouraging women from getting onto the roads.
‘“Women by nature are more risk averse and in this country, with some good reason, cycling is perceived that we haven’t got the infrastructure that makes cycling as safe as getting in a car or van.
“So women have a risk aversion which men probably have far less of naturally so there’s the one’s who think I might get injured so I won’t do.”
When Dilys moved to Dorset four years ago she encouraged Dorset County Council to set up a fund for adult cycle training.
She now runs, Simply Fabulous, a branch of the Dorset Cyclists network which builds up women’s confidence in different stages of classes. She believes these classes will appeal more to women compared to the male dominated cycling clubs that ‘tend to be a little bit speedy and lengthy’.
Bournemouth Cycleworks welcome all customers and although they don’t have the time to organise all-female cyclist groups, Paul says they encourage and get involved where they can:
‘We sponsor a couple of teams and female athletes who we support fully.’
You can also share your experiences of cycling safety with us @buzz_bmth