Sustrans Cymru is hosting a roundtable discussion with women leaders in active travel to mark International Women's Day 2021. The ‘Inspiring Women' event aims to bring organisations together to develop a programme for change and amplify women's voices. Here, Sustrans Cymru Director, Christine Boston talks about the importance of working together to ensure women’s voices are heard.
Designing fully inclusive infrastructure is key to increasing the numbers of women who use it.
For many decades, I have travelled on foot or by bike which gives me access to quick, cheap and healthy journeys, outside in the fresh air.
I realised long ago that it took less time to cycle to work than get the bus. It was also faster and cheaper than driving into town and paying for city-centre parking.
Once I got used to a change in the way I travelled, I never looked back.
Walking and cycling were still my preferred travel options for city journeys when I was pregnant and my son has joined me on the bike from when he was very young too.
With the knowledge I have about carbon emissions and climate change, I am committed to setting a good example for him and doing my bit to ensure he has a healthy future to look forward to.
It is clear, however, that there is still a lot of work to do.
Understanding the barriers
Looking at figures published in our Bike Life report, even in Cardiff, only 14% of women cycle, compared with 31% of men.
In the Netherlands, this figure is as high as 55% so we need to think about why cycling is so much more inclusive elsewhere.
In terms of barriers, safety is a major concern although there was little difference in the feedback from men and women (77% of women think cycle safety needs improving compared with 73% of men).
Our report ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ published in 2018 suggests that ‘high-quality infrastructure could alleviate many of the barriers women experience, and act as a leveller in terms of active travel’.
Lack of female representation
Since I joined Sustrans Cymru at the end of 2020, I have seen too many active travel events advertised with all-male panels.
Given that there are many active travel organisations in Wales with female leaders, there is no excuse for this.
We also need to ensure that any assessment or decision making panels are inclusive to ensure a range of voices and experiences inform the programmes being taken forward.
Inspiring Women event
This is why we are hosting a roundtable discussion with women leaders in active travel to mark International Women's Day 2021.
Our 'Inspiring Women' event aims to bring organisations together to develop a programme for change and amplify women's voices.
We are also going to invite our colleagues to join us in honouring this years’ theme of #ChoosetoChallenge by asking about diversity when invited to speak at an event.
Committing to inclusion
Where we are unable to influence representation, we commit to asking about inclusion at every opportunity, placing gender firmly on the agenda.
Furthermore, we will celebrate the talented and expert women in our own team, making sure they are seen and heard in order to influence decisions and demonstrate that walking and cycling truly is For Everyone.