Women in Cycling

The sudden acceleration in the bicycle industry has seen bike shops selling out. But that's a story for another day, this one's all about how women continue to lead the cycling charge.

Women in Cycling Leading the Way

We all know by now that 2020 was a strange year, and one that a lot of us are probably glad is over. Amid a global pandemic and several natural disasters however, there have been a few glimmers of hope. Don't worry, this isn't another article that delves into the rabbit hole that is COVID and all the negatives that come with it (because let's be honest, we're all sick of hearing about it). But whilst a global pandemic put a stop to a lot of things, it also ignited the fire for a lot of others. One of those being an extraordinary growth in cycling, and more importantly a growth that's fuelled by women.

Dubbed the 'Great Bicycle Boom of 2020' by the BBC, cycling was one thing that grew significantly during the pandemic and is something we hope carries over into 2021 and beyond (cycling that is, the pandemic can stay firmly in the past!). Amongst several lockdowns happening globally, a mix of growing anxiety towards public transport and various means of transportation being temporarily shut down, we saw an influx of people taking up cycling. Some chose to dust off their bikes, while others sought to buy new, all of which has led to the bicycle boom phenomenon. The sudden acceleration in the bicycle industry has seen bike shops selling out. But that's a story for another day, this one's all about how women continue to lead the cycling charge.

Strava: Women Breaking Away

At the end of every year, Strava, the ever-popular ride (and run, if you're into that) tracking platform, put out their year in review. It's an overview of some of the key highlights and statistics generated by data from their athlete’s activities across the world. (Note: every Strava user is dubbed an athlete on the app - and yes, we've added that title to our CV too). Incredibly, Strava saw 2 million new athletes joining the platform every month throughout 2020, creating a combined total of 73 million athletes. So, it's safe to say the data pool that Strava pulled their statistics from is pretty expansive!

Using this data, Strava were able to see the impact the pandemic had on people’s activities and really pick out the 'who, what and where'. What they found were that the "changes in the world didn't only affect the ways we work out, but how often, too… with women and young athletes leading the charge". Globally, between April and September last year, Strava saw women aged 18-29 upload 45.2% more activities than during the same period in 2019, compared to a 27.3% increase by their male counterparts. Pretty impressive, right? We decided to narrow down the statistics to just athletes from the UK and Ireland, and that's when things got a little more impressive. In the UK and Ireland alone, Strava saw a whopping 108% increase in activities uploaded by women aged 18-29 compared to 92% among men of the same age.

Unquestionably, the lock down has led to increased activity year on year, led by women worldwide. The rise in cycling uptake mirrors this, being predominantly driven by women also. Speaking on the topic, Simon Klima (Director of International Marketing at Strava) revealed that “there could be several reasons for that (the increase) but in the past, our research has found that one of the biggest blocks for women to cycling is a perceived safety risk. But during the pandemic women perhaps felt safer to take to their bicycles, thanks to some temporary infrastructure improvements and quieter roads”. Our friends at Cycling UK have a great feature on staying safe while cycling.

Keeping Active: Body and Mind

Stress is a common culprit contributing to anxiety, depression and illness, when feeling this was it can be feel really good to switch off and sweat it out in anyway you can, walk run or cycle, boost your heart rate, get some fresh air or just feel more connected with nature to escape the grind. Whatever you do, getting active in your own way can give you a huge mental boost.

The Government recently released an aptly named 'Gear Change' policy which hopes to "make England a great walking and cycling nation" by setting out a series of actions. Digging deeper into the policy, it's evident the Government have recognised the importance of bikes, even more so in the difficult year we've faced. The 'Gear Change' policy states "we (the Government) need to attract people to active travel (cycling) by building better quality infrastructure, making streets better for everyone, and the need to make sure people feel safe and confident cycling." Read more here. It's thanks to women leading the cycling charge that the groundwork for the future of cycling and the countless miles ahead are starting to be laid out. Obviously, the creation and implementation of cycling infrastructure won't happen overnight. But it's a clear step in the right direction, and one that will help empower even more women to take to their bikes.

Save Money on a New Bike

In the short term, to keep the fire of the cycling boom stoked we recommend taking advantage of current cycling initiatives that are out there. Our favourite of the bunch are Cycle to Work schemes, which are Government initiatives that do what they say on the tin - aim to encourage more people to start cycling to work. There are a number of schemes available, but you can find out more about a couple of the schemes here.

Sources:

https://blog.strava.com/press/yis2020/

https://1n4rcn88bk4ziht713dla5ub-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/USA_YIS_2020.pdf

https://www.bbc.com/future/bespoke/made-on-earth/the-great-bicycle-boom-of-2020.html

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/opinion/2020/august/how-does-the-uk-government-s-gear-change-relate-to-the-national-cycle-network

https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/staying-safe-while-out-riding-your-own-top-tips-women-raleigh

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