Bike Life - Women: Reducing the gender gap

“Cycling is a fantastic means of empowering women to take their space and be visible, to build confidence and become active in their communities. And yet most women don’t feel safe and are hesitant to start, or restart cycling.

"This Bike Life report demonstrates women want it to be different. 74% of women would like to see more investment in cycling, and 79% would favour more protected cycle routes – even if it means less space for other road users. We need act on what we know women want.

-Lynne Berry, Chair of Trustees, Sustrans

Women cycling. Image credit: Livia Lazar

women cycling.Image credit: James Thomson/Sustrans

The city of Cambridge has the UK’s highest cycling levels, as well as almost equal proportions of men and women cycling to work.

Cambridge’s success can at least be partially attributed to a well-designed central traffic restraint scheme. Car parking in the city centre is very costly and it is virtually impossible to cross the city-centre using a private motor vehicle. Cambridge has an extensive network of off-road routes and more recently has been building protected cycle routes on arterial roads.

Making it difficult to park and drive means that cycling is the quickest, most reliable and attractive option to both men and women as well as being more pleasant and healthy.

woman on bike in London

We have been working with Queen Mary, a women’s hostel in central London, and Westminster City Council to set up and run a cycling club for women. The hostel were keen to encourage cycling to boost residents’ personal confidence and help give them access to college, community groups or paid employment.

The Queen Mary Women’s Cycling Club has been very successful and recently received funding from Transport for London’s ‘Cycling Grants London’ scheme to continue for another three years.


woman with bike

This research report demonstrates that women’s experience of transport and travel is different to men's. We review the literature, present our qualitative data and explore the solutions to ensure women and men have equal opportunity to choose to cycle and walk in their city.

Download the report (pdf)

Do you have a question about Bike Life? Contact us

Bike Life is a collaboration between Sustrans and the participating cities. Bike Life is funded by The Freshfield Foundation and our city partners.

Man and woman cycling. Image credit: Jill Jennings/TFGM

Inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, Bike Life is an assessment of city cycling development including infrastructure, travel behaviour, satisfaction, the impact of cycling, and new initiatives.

Find out which cities are involved and our plans for 2020.