Maxine Peake urges more women to cycle in 2021

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British TV and film actress Maxine Peake urges more women to cycle, as research shows 31% of women surveyed switched from driving to cycling during lockdown

To launch its annual Women’s Festival of Cycling, Cycling UK has released figures showing that more women have taken up cycling during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity found that 31% of women surveyed switched from a car to a cycle for everyday journeys, and those who cycled regularly reported improvements to their wellbeing.

The Women’s Festival of Cycling, delivered by Cycling UK and sponsored by Nottingham-based cycle manufacturer, Raleigh begins today, and is aimed at encouraging more women to cycle.

Although the number of women cycling increased during lockdown, men are still cycling nearly twice as much as women.

British TV and film actress and writer, Maxine Peake, is supporting Cycling UK’s Women’s Festival. She said: “Cycling gives you such a sense of freedom and calm. It’s a brilliant way to exercise – it’s fantastic for your mental health to be able to get out into nature.”

A regular group cyclist, Maxine began riding with support from a friend. She said: “You need that encouragement, especially for women. We can feel a bit self-conscious sometimes and a bit judged. Cycling is very male-dominated and sometimes women might not feel completely comfortable, or feel it’s too competitive.”

Maxine Peake
Maxine Peake

Cycling UK launched its survey in February 2021 to understand women’s cycling habits and wellbeing during the pandemic. More than 3,400 respondents, from all four nations of the UK, responded.

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “The word used most by our survey respondents to describe cycling was ‘happiness’, which is what our Women’s Festival of Cycling is all about.

“It’s also really encouraging to see so many women switching their car journeys to the cycle. Cycling is such a simple way for all of us to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce pollution, get more exercise and improve our wellbeing.

“What we need to do now is encourage those women who took to cycling during the pandemic to continue, and ask them to help us spread the message about the enormous benefits of cycling both personally and environmentally.”

The Women’s Festival of Cycling was created to celebrate female cyclists and to encourage more women, who are currently under-represented, to experience the healthy lifestyle and fantastic fun that cycling offers.

The festival is taking place between 17 July and 1 August and features a range of virtual events, social media challenges, local group rides and a celebration of 100 Women in Cycling.

The ‘100 Women in Cycling’ roll call is a chance to recognise and appreciate women who work to inspire, teach, and encourage others to cycle. Many of the women featured on the list this year have gone above and beyond to continue supporting women to cycle during lockdown – such as Syeda Akther, who only started cycling regularly in February 2020 and has gone on to become a ride leader supporting Muslim women.

There are also women have used their influence to act as an inspiration to others: women such as Maxine Peake, BBC Radio 4 journalist Melanie Abbott, and even three-year-old Daisy Adams who has dazzled her many fans on social media displaying her bike skills and tricks.

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