BBC Radio 4 looking for Female Cycling Contributors


Just got a comment fellow readers may be interested in:-

“Hiya, I’m about to embark on the production of a series about the social history of the bicycle for BBC Radio 4 and am looking for some female contributors to talk about cycling. I’m particularly interested in the part that cycling has played in radical politics from the suffragettes to the the broadening of working class horizons and eventually the green movement. Would have sent a private message but can’t see a way so had to join the blog – simon@openproductions.co.uk”

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3 responses to “BBC Radio 4 looking for Female Cycling Contributors

  1. Thank you for your post. It sounds a very interesting.

    The researchers may be interested in contacting The Veteran Cycle Club, they have a wealth of historical archives on women cyclists and ‘bike history’ contacts. Their website is http://www.v-cc.org.uk/index.html. The Fawcett Society http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/ and the Women’s Library in East London
    http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/thewomenslibrary/ ought to have some feminist issues on the subject – I know they have some good stuff on the Women’s Lib movement.

    The Vintage Cycle Club also take part in the New Year’s Day Parade and a lot of women cyclists take part. I think one of the reasons they enjoy it is because women cyclists in the old days look ‘like ladies’, very glamorous and nowadays we have to wear boring practical, ‘unisex’ clothes like Hi-Viz jackets and helmets are often unattractive and ‘sporty looking’. Glamour is making its return under ‘cyclechic’ with inspiration from the Netherlands and Copenhagen. Green activists are not necessarily ‘scruffy treehuggers’ and some of us do look glam. The Tweed Run includes both men and women too and even the ‘working class’ take part:-).

    It maybe worth going to one of Critical Mass events ie last Friday every month at the South Bank, lots of radical women cyclists there.

    You may also be interested in contacting The Lung Association http://www.lunguk.org/ and various cancer organisations say, Myeloma UK http://www.myeloma.org.uk/ as a lot of illnesses are linked to pollution and chemicals and that’s of the many reasons why some green female cyclists, like myself, have given up their car and choose to commute by bike. Now the World Health Organisation are getting involved with air quality issues http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environmental-health/air-quality.

    A few things still niggle me as a 21st century female cyclist. One thing is that many bicycles in the UK don’t have skirt guards like they did in the old days. I believe bikes in Holland have them. It means we can’t wear feminine long skirts. However, I am very lucky that my new bike, a Giant, (this company makes bikes specially for women in mind) actually has a skirt guard but it is a real job to find bike shops that have guards with them. I don’t think bike shops in the UK are really geared for female cyclists. Another thing, rarely in bike shops do women get any attractive panniers. In the provinces, women have to buy boring black touring type panniers. Also in the provincials, there are hardly any workshops that show women how to service their bikes. Many bike shops are not at all female friendly so Sustrans have asked female mystery shoppers to visit them.

    Another niggle are cycling magazines. There are no female only bike magazines available in this country. Cycling Weekly is designed mostly for male time trial cyclists and when there are women in there, they are there mainly for ‘glamour’. The fact that there are women cyclists out there like me who commute by bike, have done cycling podcasts, take part in long distance charity rides, read bike books, write cycling poetry, take youtube videos on my bike commute, take part in political protests or write cycling blogs simply do not exist! It is still a very sexist cycling society.

    And yet another niggle, trying to find women only cycling clubs is very hard. Some of us don’t want to cycle with a group of sexist men or superfast ones. And we don’t want to talk football all the time. Fortunately in London there are a variety of cycle rides from women’s only ones to architectural cycle rides, so some are more ‘intellectual’ and socially more stimulating than talking about speedometers.

    In some of the provincials this is nigh on impossible. In London it is a lot easier and there are a few women’s only religious cycle groups. Try contacting LCC the London Cycling Campaign http://www.lcc.org.uk – they also have women’s only events that run on International Women’s Day.

    Radical Protests

    I have used my bike for many political protests. I have taken part in various Palestine Solidarity Campaign protests and have been on the International Women’s Day bike ride in London where we went round parts of London that have a feminist link. I have also friends who have cycled into Palestine as part of the Peacecycle. One thing about protesting on a bike is that it brings out the ‘creative’ in me and I enjoy blinging up my bike with all sorts of flags and stickers! Bikes are too plain for me normally.

    Protesting can be in various forms. As a cycling blogger I write about my experiences with dangerous drivers, ridiculous anti-bike laws, lorry deaths in London, congestion, air pollution, how appalling it is that we have to cycle alongside motorbikes in bus cycle lanes and how the London cycling superhighway is a complete waste of money ‘it is just a blue line’ when in fact, we should have more off road cycle paths, more 20mph zones, tougher laws for motorists and less lorries and gas guzzling vehicles. I also protest about the lack of CCTV in tunnels along Sustrans cycle paths.

    I think what really has helped the cycling revolution – is the power of the internet, cyclists are now more in contact with other cyclists than ever before. Speaking as someone living in the car supremascist Kent, it has opened up the world of ‘road safety’ and hopefully with more cyclists signing petitions we can change the laws in the future and improve road safety. We can also encourage cyclists to become blood donors in view of the numerous and cyclists injured on British roads and take part in road safety charities. Twitter is now being used as positive force to protest against anti-bike laws and policies and we now can see how other countries deal with similar issues and encourage improvements to this country. Lately we are protesting about the current Government as they are removing speed cameras, traffic police and Cycling England as part of their cuts. There will be more deaths so we need much greener policies.

    Bikes are a lot more fun now, we have mountain bikes now and most bikes don’t have just one speed anymore. There are more bicycle parks around ie say Bedgebury near Tunbridge Wells and now more bicycle cafes and bars are spring up. Cycling is becoming a viable alternative and it is more family friendly than ever before.

    PS Here are more links – Herstoria – history from a woman’s perspective.. and bit about the bicycle.
    http://www.herstoria.com/discover/bike.html

  2. Britain has gone very Car Dependant lately instead of becoming more Cycling Friendly they are actually going backwards. They pretend (Authorities, Councils) to support Cycling by a lot of Greenwash Information which is simply not true that they want more People to get out on their Bikes all the while they put in more Restrictions ,like more Car Parking on Streets and insisting on still putting in inadequate Skinny little Cycle Lanes. They allow Motorised Traffic to Drive and also Park on these Cycling Lanes and there is no Enforcement against Motorised Traffic breaking the Rules like Parking in ASL’s at Traffic Lights.

    In Victorian times Cycling gave Women Independence ,the Freedom to be Mobile which allowed them to Travel without all the Rules stopping them. All they had to do was get out on their Step Through Bicycles and they did not offend the Prudish Behaviour of the Times. This very Sedate Movement which was Silent and Discreet and did not cause any fuss with their Menfolk gradually spread all over the World resulting in Women Cycling everywhere even in very Constricting Countries with very Insular Ideas of Rules of behaviour.

    Eventually anywhere there was Women Protesting whether for Trade Union rights,fair Pay and Conditions or the Suffragette Movement looking for Votes for Women the Bicycles went too.

    Unfortunately in Latter Years things have gone backwards with Britain promoting a Car Dominant Society and are Anti Cycling in their Attitudes the Authorities are just not interested in promoting Cycling ,they pretend they are with a load of spin even the so called Cycling Organisations are not causing too much of a fuss and just Generally go along with the Status Quo and try to Adapt to Living with the Intolerable conditions. That is why that the level of Cycling in Britain has not increased by very much and never will when People Regard Cycling as unsafe especially Women.

    You will get the Diehard Cyclists who continue to Cycle inspite of the bad Infrastructure who are advised to Adopt Vehicular Cycling and wear all these HI Vis Jackets and all the rest of it and try to Accomodate Cars Dominance on the Roads but there is very little Effort in trying to Limit the Presence of Cars on the Streets by just Banning Parking or complete Pedestrianisation with Cyclists and Pedestrians only allowed.

  3. Status is another issue.

    Many people still have issues about their status and they think success is to have a smart car but many women aren’t so status-oriented and the green movement is less about status, we’d rather put something back, have a better quality of life and avoid destroying the environment like our previous generations. The bicycle can be seen as a form of protest in itself.

    The new status is about fitness and having quality of life in these stressful times. Motorists with bingo wings or pot bellies in ford mondeos isn’t exactly very inspiring for us lettuce leaf eating green cyclists.

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