More women encouraged to take up cycling to address gender balance

Group of women cycling

Women take part in International Women's Day cycle in Belfast

Lineup of women with bikes at Belfast City Hall

Women's ride arrives at Belfast City Hall on International Women's Day

Group of women cyclists with Belfast Lord Mayor

Women on led ride greeted by Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey at Belfast City Hall on International Women's Day

8 March 2019

Belfast Lord Mayor Cllr Deirdre Hargey met with women from across the city at Belfast City Hall today after we organised a led ride to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day.

Cycling has been growing in popularity in recent years, but male cyclists still outnumber female cyclists two to one across the UK, and three to one in Belfast.

Undeterred by the rain, the women donned their waterproofs and cycled from the Gasworks along the Alfred Street cycleway to Belfast City Hall where they met the Lord Mayor.

I’m delighted to meet the women with Sustrans this morning as we celebrate International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #BalanceforBetter.

- Deirdre Hargey, Belfast Lord Mayor

"I’m delighted to meet the women with Sustrans this morning as we celebrate International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #BalanceforBetter. During my year in office, I’m focused on helping to shape a Belfast that’s more welcoming and equitable for everyone – so I’m really encouraged to see these women finding the confidence to get on their bikes and exercise and socialise together. 

“I’ve met so inspirational many women in my time as First Citizen so far – women who are giving so much of themselves to improve society, quality of life and opportunity for others. International Women’s Day is about recognising the resilience, energy and unique strengths that women bring to the world – and also encouraging men and women to support one another more along life's journey.”

The aim of today’s ride was to raise the profile of cycling among women and encourage more to get on their bikes for their commute or leisure. 

Sustrans Bike Life report, produced in partnership with the Department for Infrastructure, showed that as many as 80% of women never cycle in Belfast and that just 29% of women regard cycling as safe in the city, with many calling for more protected cycleways, separate from traffic.

In order to tackle the gender gap in cycling, Sustrans runs a Women into Cycling programme which is a free 6-week course providing on-road cycle training, bike maintenance skills and support. There are two new courses coming up in the spring and summer.

Other participants in the ride were from the Leading the Way programme, funded by the Public Health Agency, which aims to get people more active on their journeys to and from work and daily routine. It focuses on a number of large employers in the Belfast area: the Public Health Agency itself, Department for Infrastructure, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast City Council and RQIA.

Women from the Top of the Rock Healthy Living Centre, in west Belfast also took part. They are involved in Sustrans Community Active Travel Programme. Read more about the programme.

Key facts:

  • Across the UK men are twice as likely as women to use a bicycle for travel on a regular basis
  • Men in Belfast are nearly three times as likely to ride bikes as women 
  • 80% of women never cycle in Belfast
  • 70% of women in Belfast want there to be more investment in cycling to make it safer to travel

(source: Bike Life 2017)

Find out more or enrol on the Women into Cycling Programme

Read more about the gender gap in cycling