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Are women the new COVID-19 cyclist generation?

As we all are well aware, COVID-19 has completely disrupted life as we knew it. It has completely changed the cycling community and we have seen a huge rise in people getting on their bikes. According to Strava, research suggests that cycling has increased by more than 35% in London and by almost 50% in the South East (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-56521006 ). So many people have turned to cycling as a way to spend their spare time in a healthier way, but who are these people? We wanted to take a deeper look at who this new cyclist is and why they have just sprung on to the cycling scene.


 


We conducted a survey of which 1,758 people from inside and outside of our community completed. This survey covered demographics, how often people cycle, what type of cycling, reasons for cycling, outdoor/indoor cycling, how COVID-19 has affected cycling and more around fitness and nutrition. It became clear very quickly that women seem to be the new generation of cyclists in the post-COVID world.


 


23.7% of the women who completed the survey said they were new to cycling due to COVID-19 and a whopping 53.7% of women are cycling more due to COVID-19. Only 23.7% of women said that they are actually cycling less now which shows just how much of an impact the pandemic has had on female cyclists.


 


So why is it that women are cycling more since the first lockdown? Simon Klima, from Strava, suggests that one of the biggest barriers for women getting into cycling is safety. Lockdown was the first time people could venture out on to the roads without the impeding threat of heavy traffic. Apparently there was a rather large dip in Strava usage just after summer when lockdown restrictions eased and traffic came back to the roads. It also shows that people dip out of cycling after summer when there are less favorable conditions for cycling.


 


This suggestion makes sense and correlates with the data we gained from our survey – it seems that most women prefer fair weather cycling and 47.5% of them ONLY cycle in fair weather. Also, almost half of the women who completed the survey (45.8%) stated that they prefer road biking. In a survey we did last year, the highest ranking barrier into cycling was roads/traffic/other road users which shows just how big of an impact the safety of the roads actually has on people, especially women, getting in to cycling.


 


With that being it makes a lot of sense that women have become the new generation of cyclists but doesn’t that mean once all the traffic is back and winter comes then we will lose all of our ladies? Apparently not! According to the answers from our survey, 53.6% of women said that they will cycle more after COVID-19 and 41.6% said they will cycle the same amount.


 


Cycling is very much a sport that’s hard to shake off once you’ve been bitten by the bug. As well as making sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of that new bike you just remortgaged for. However, it’s clear that the sentiment of the cycling community is changing and there is a constant stream of conversation around inclusivity emerging. It’s a conversation happening throughout every industry but especially in cycling where women, people of colour and larger, non-conventional bodies are starkly underrepresented. Is this type of conversation and community mindset also something that is encouraging women to get involved?


 


Interestingly, women are more likely to take up cycling due to their partner being a cyclist than men. According to our survey, 17.4% of women said they took up cycling due to their partner/spouse compared to only 7.1% of men. Demonstrating that having someone you trust to show you the ropes is a huge part of gaining confidence to get in to cycling for women. This may be why female riding groups are on the rise!


 


Cycling world watch out, here come the girls…


 


COVID-19 and cycling survey results - https://fatladattheback.app.do/polls/2020-cycling-poll/results


 


Barriers in to cycling survey results - https://poll.app.do/polls/what-are-the-barriers-into-cycling/results