Three times as many men than women cycle for fun. It’s an imbalance that is starting to change, and Breeze has made a huge contribution to increasing the numbers of women cyclists. Since it started four years ago, the National Lottery funded Breeze network has encouraged 23,000 women to get on their bikes and it’s now grown into the largest national programme encouraging women to ride.
Over the last four years, the amount of women interested in trying cycling has risen from 800,000 to 1.1 million. Breeze’s work has also been a catalyst for British Cycling’s initiative to improve women’s involvement in cycling both recreationally and as a sport – their ambitious Women’s Cycling Strategy aims to get one million more women riding by 2020.
Underpinning its success are the volunteers who encourage women in their communities to get back into cycling or try it for the first time. Their guided bike rides provide a safe and welcoming environment for other women, while they themselves feel empowered by their volunteer roles. All the women are given a chance to have fun, get healthy, gain confidence, share camaraderie with other woman and enjoy the sheer joy of cycling outdoors. In addition, Breeze is working with bike retailers to help them become more female friendly. It also supports local bike-hire projects and recycling schemes for cheaper bike purchases.