This is the sign our friend Ken made for the Birmingham Bike Foundry. In his own words it describes what the Bike Foundry wants to do - make biking in Birmingham better, so more people do it! This blog falls under the auspices of the Bike Foundry; we thought it would be fun to do something written for and by women cyclists for a few reasons...
Women are underrepresented as cyclists. In 2008 a National Transport Survey said that the split was 72% male to 28% female. British Cycling says that 2.3% of all British women cycle each week, compared to 6.8% of men. What's that all about?!
More worryingly, according to this BBC article many more women than men die as a result of accidents involving lorries. Confidence seems to be a part of this - women are less likely to weave through traffic to get ahead at stationary traffic lights, they bike close to the curb so cars don't give them enough room and are less aggressive in making sure drivers take notice. We know this is a generalisation but from personal experience as female cyclists who are on the road everyday, we definitely see the truth in it. We (Nancy & Jess) are far more likely than our male friends to avoid the Pershore Road during rush hour and take the Rea Valley cycle route instead. We also experience a lot more abusive language and behaviour than the boys - a lot of it sexual, which is pretty gross.
We think if more women are on the road, have better maintenance skills and safety awareness then we can make things safer for ourselves and for all cyclists - critical mass!
We don't think women cyclists need special clothes or girly coloured bikes to be encouraged to cycle (although that can be part of the fun) we just need to be part of a stronger and bigger community of cyclists which includes more women. We hope this blog will create a network of current Birmingham cyclists and maybe encourage a few more women to get in the saddle. I bet that guy who yelled 'Get a bus pass you cunt' at me the other day, wouldn't have done it if I was with my bike gang.
Love Jess and Nancy & all the girls at the Bike Foundry.