Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Helmet hair and perspiration prevent women getting in the saddle

New research commissioned by Cycling England has revealed that two thirds (64%) of women say they never cycle and just 2% cycle every day.

Men are still three times more likely to cycle than women. Today’s poll suggests that the perceived effect of cycling on appearance, together with a lack of confidence in cycling on the road, is behind this gender imbalance.

Women are three times more likely to cycle indoors on an exercise bike (14%) than to work (4%). When it comes to cycling to work, it seems that fear of being anything less than well groomed in front of colleagues is an off-putting factor. Among 18-34 year old women:

* 58% wouldn’t want to arrive at work sweaty
* 50% would be worried about getting wet in the rain
* 38% wouldn’t want to have to carry a change of clothes
* 38% say there is nowhere to shower at work
* 27% would be concerned about ‘helmet hair’
* 19% wouldn’t want colleagues to see them without make-up or stepping out of the office shower.

What the research fails to consider, however, is just how ethno-centric such perceptions are. When attitudes are compared to those amongst women in cycling-friendly cultures, concerns about helmets, showers and sweating miraculously disappear - because they are simply not needed.

The study contrasts with a film and photography project currently underway in Darlington and in Bremen, Germany, which explores the attitude of teenage girls to cycling in both communities. Cycling is highly popular - and seen as fashionable - in cycle-friendly Bremen. Most girls in Darlington lose interest in cycling by the time they are 15 years old.

Attitudes and infrastructure appear to be strongly connected - good, safe cycling infrastructure that offers car-free routes most of the time means that cyclists can travel at their own pace, and not have to battle with motorised traffic. Attitudes to cycling change as a result. When teenagers in Bremen were asked how they deal with rain, they replied "we use an umbrella, of course".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sustrans NCN14 Ride - Sunday 19th October

We have recieved an email from Neil from Sustrans about a ride this Sunday. I'll hopefully be going along and it would be great if more Cycle Campaign members could join in.

I am planning a trail blazing ride to celebrate a new bridge opening and to highlight the next phase of completion of NCN14. For those who are not aware NCN14 is a route that starts from Darlington town centre and travels along the route of the first ever passenger railway before heading towards Stockton town centre. The route is a mixture of on and off road (off road until you get near the airport and off road again when you get into Stockton).

The ride is approximately 12 miles long and will start in Darlington town centre (outside the Dolphin Centre) at 10:00am on Sunday 19th October.

We will have a photographer and lots of flags with a few stops along the way. The pace will be gentle and relaxed. If anyone would like to join us please feel free to turn up on the day.

If you want any further information please email me - neilDOTmitchellATsustransDOTorgDOTuk (swap the DOTs and AT for dots and an at)