Cycling helps us to feel free and independent

Thursday, 25th November 2021

Cycling bike

‘We urge Camden Council to include safe cycling in its strategy for making Camden safer for women’

• WE are five women ranging in ages from mid-40s to late-80s. All of us are members of Camden Cyclists but we are writing this letter as individuals.

We were very pleased to see that the CNJ of November 18 had been written almost entirely by women; and a very good edition it was too!

The articles contain many references to women not having the same freedom as men (for example, Luisa Porritt says that her Liberal Democrat colleague Tom Simon can run at night while she can’t; and the head of Camden School for Girls refers to the dangers of women walking alone). Angela Mason and Helene Reardon-Bond write about making Camden safer for women.

We note that in the late 19th century, bicycles played an important role in giving women more independence to exercise and to travel wherever they wanted. The bicycle became an emblem of women’s rights as they could travel by themselves without being escorted by men.

Our own experience is that cycling is a way of feeling safe while travelling alone. Day and night. It makes people feel good and since the pandemic it has become even more important to look after our physical and mental health at any age.

Cycling helps us to feel free and independent. We find it strange when we read that certain people assume that you need to be young and fit to cycle.

Riding a bike is low impact and unlike other forms of exercise such as running, which is more taxing on the body, it helps to keep the heart healthy for longer in older age and is gentle on the joints.

Commuting to work by bike is also a great option that allows us the freedom to choose when to travel, as well as embedding exercise and an intake of fresh air into a busy working day. You arrive at work invigorated rather than stifled by a depressing journey in a crowded tube or bus.

Many women we know, of all ages, would love to do this more, but are put off by the lack of a proper infrastructure as they deem it too risky.

For those of us juggling children’s activities, school, and work, cycling allows us to fit things in in a way that otherwise would be impossible. Safer cycling for women and young children would only increase this freedom.

Providing more safe cycle routes and cycle storage at home and at work is an important way of making Camden safer for women. It would also enable children to take up cycling from a young age as they do in the Netherlands and other countries.

We therefore urge Camden Council to include safe cycling in its strategy for making Camden safer for women.

If you’d like to get started cycling or help others to do so, have a look at Camden Cyclists’ cycle buddy scheme – camdencyclists.org.uk/camden/cycle-buddies or search “camden cycle buddies”.

EMA ARVATI, JEAN DOLLIMORE, ELENA MOYNIHAN, SUSAN SEYMOUR, RACHEL WRANGHAM
NW1, NW2, NW3 and NW5

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