Author: Claire Sharpe, Head of Marketing and Communications, Beryl
The numbers don’t lie – there’s still a gender imbalance when it comes to travelling sustainably.
To help reverse this trend, Beryl has launched its brand new Beryl Women’s Tour – a series of fun, informative and welcoming cycling and e-scooter events for women that are being held across all its scheme areas.
The company’s Annual Rider Report 2022 showed that, on average, more than two thirds (67%) of its users are men.
This trend of gender imbalance is also echoed in national findings, with the latest CoMoUK 2021 survey figures showing almost two thirds (60%) of bike share scheme users are men, compared to just 36% women.
The government’s National Travel Survey 2021* also showed that men made more cycling trips on average than women in all age groups, with 24 cycling trips per person in 2021, compared to seven cycling trips per person by women. The survey also showed that men travelled four times the distance with an average of 89 miles cycled as opposed to 22 miles cycled by women.
But how does the new Beryl Women’s Tour help to address the issue?
What’s the big idea?
Participants can sign up for group rides and confidence sessions on bikes as well as tryouts or skills sessions on e-scooters.
Following the success of Beryl’s Scoot Happy Tour, which began in April 2022, the Beryl Women’s Tour events are designed to improve knowledge and ability in a relaxed, pressure-free environment.
As well as illustrating the uneven split, Beryl’s Rider Report also showed that women are significantly less confident riders compared to men. Of those quizzed, 55% of women said they were confident or very confident riding on main roads compared to 80% of men. The aim of the tour is therefore to create a welcoming and informative atmosphere where women can come along, practise and access help and advice.
By creating this environment, Beryl will generate greater confidence amongst women and help many to overcome what is a significant barrier to riding on main roads.
The events will further target lapsed women cyclists who, for various reasons, haven’t cycled for more than five years. Beryl research shows that lapsed riders are much more likely to replace car journeys with sustainable ones once they re-start riding regularly.
Ultimately, by encouraging more women out of their cars and onto sustainable transport, Beryl can address gender inequality in transport and continue to contribute towards further reducing road congestion, improving air quality and public health.
Inspiring women to take part
The launch of the schemes has been timed to coincide with this year’s International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March. An annual event, the day is designed to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination and take action to drive gender parity, making it an ideal platform to launch the tour.
Beryl has also commissioned a specially designed promotional bike and e-scooter to mark the launch, which take inspiration from multi record-breaking cycling legend Beryl Burton OBE.
The shapes on the vehicles are a nod to her remarkable achievements, with the straight lines illustrating her renowned speeds and the ovals representing the velodrome tracks where many of her records were set.
The eye-catching colour scheme has been created to appeal to and inspire women cyclists to take part in the sessions and develop greater confidence on two wheels.
What do women think about the idea?
Bournemouth resident Joanne Hollington regularly uses both Beryl bikes and e-scooters, mainly for leisure purposes but also to get to the train station from her home.
She cites cost and convenience as the main reasons for using micromobility, admitting that she initially saw bikeshare as ‘a gimmick’ but quickly changed her mind once she had given it a try.
In June last year, Joanne took part in one of Beryl’s Scoot Happy skills sessions after hearing about it via word of mouth. She is firmly supportive of the idea of women’s events and believes that encouraging female cyclists could have an inspirational effect in boosting popularity.
She said: “I definitely think that women-only group rides and cycle confidence sessions are a good idea. It certainly seems a male-dominated form of getting around and I think that encouraging women in this regard is a big step forward.
“The more women seen out and about on Beryl transport will encourage those considering Beryl to possibly take the next step and try it out.”
What else can be done?
By using research and speaking to customers, Beryl has identified other opportunities to make sustainable travel more appealing to women.
For example, research shows that women riders are much more likely to ride with others than men are. Beryl has also seen growth in multimodal usage and knows that riders who use multiple modes ride more, reduce car usage more and face fewer barriers.
Women riders however, are less likely to be multimodal and are less likely to have ridden e-bikes. One of the main reasons given for not having tried an e-bike was ‘have not felt the need’.
With Beryl being one of the only UK operator’s that provides truly multimodal schemes under the same app, the company will look to provide incentives to try other modes, highlighting the specific benefits of each one.
*2022 data to be released in July 2023