Creating Safe Cycle Routes for Women
To ensure cycling is accessible for all, Hadleigh Park Cycles CIC aim to help encourage more women who haven’t cycled for a while, or who don’t have access to safe cycle routes, to get back on a bike and enjoy the many benefits cycling can bring.
Initially, Hadleigh Park Cycles CIC received a grant from Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival, to help run women-only events such as led rides and bike maintenance sessions. Due to the success of these sessions, it was identified that there was a need for a regular women’s-only cycling group, with 12 ladies expressing their interest. In early 2023, volunteer ride leaders began taking women on rides through the park on Saturday mornings, and more recently have expanded to Thursday twilight rides.
Through Find Your Active Funding and match funding from the Essex Cycle Grant, Hadleigh Park Cycles CIC were able to provide cycles to enable those without bikes to experience the rides. As a result of this, they have been able to grow their numbers and kick-start a group called WOWIE – Women On Wheels in Essex. Participants aged between 25-68 are connected through a Whatsapp group and a large group now go on 10-mile rides through the woods, due to a boost in confidence. A committee has been developed by volunteers to help draw up aims and objectives of the group, support women into cycling and steer WOWIE towards being a completely self-reliant community cycling group.
Due to a slow start after Christmas, the project has extended the length of the free bikes offer until June, which has been part subsidised by Hadleigh Park Cycles. It is their hope that this will increase participation numbers, especially as the weather gets warmer. WOWIE are also passionate about encouraging members to buy and maintain their own bikes, in order to sustain levels of cycling among women going forward.