Cycling Australia’s (CA) She Rides programme is all about getting women confidently riding for fun and health. The idea was born after a study found that most women don’t make the transition from riding their bikes as children to continuing to ride as adults.
In fact, many women fear riding on the road, so CA has chosen to create a programme to address their concerns, focussing on making them feel safer.
The difference with this riding programme is that it focuses on the social aspect – getting groups of women together to enjoy riding outings in larger numbers. Pairing women with likeminded cycling partners is thought to encourage them to get the ball rolling and build up their confidence.
Riding has taken off in recent years, owing to the popularity of hipster vintage style bikes and lycra clad “road warriors”. But men (often lampooned as MAMIL’S or Middle Aged Men In Lycra), tend to far outnumber the women who hit the road.
The women who are actually riding seem to stick to small roads or riding within bike lanes, which although safe, can be a limiting way to glide. In contrast, men are more prepared to ride on-road.
The good news that has emerged from this programme, is that 78 per cent of participants who used to avoid the road, now feel confident to take to busy streets, understanding their place on the road and how to effectively communicate with drivers and other cyclists.
Participation Coordinator Alex Bright said that the effect on the women has been positive, with improvements in mental health, fitness levels and women experiencing a level of freedom they’d long forgotten about.
The course runs for eight weeks, and there are 46 locations around Australia where women can get involved.
Do you ride with confidence on the road?