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Swapfiets launches Cycle Squad initiative to get more women on bikes

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Bike subscription brand Swapfiets has launched a Women’s Cycle Squad initiative to encourage women to feel confident using a bike.

The initiative began in London yesterday with 10 participants cycling a three-hour round trip led by Swapfiets’ cycling expert Katarina Hlavata.

It comes after Swapfiets recently found that 90% of women fear urban cycling in the UK in a study of more than 2,000 respondents. 

London was ranked the third most feared city for cycling in the UK. First is Sheffield, followed by Manchester.

“The Women’s Cycle Squad initiative holds great importance in addressing the deep-seated fears and concerns that deter many women from cycling in urban areas. Our research revealed worries about road safety, potential harassment, and general safety issues like cycling at night,” Swapfiets UK Country Manager Katarina Hlavata told Zag Daily.

“Ultimately, the goal is to transform perceptions, increase representation, and promote cycling as a safe and accessible activity for women from all backgrounds.”

The route, which mostly took place on designated cycling lanes, took the group from Spitalfields down to the River Thames before lapping Hyde Park and returning to the Swapfiets store. 

Participants could either bring their own bike to the ride or use one from the Swapfiets store. They also had the opportunity to discuss their cycling fears with experts before the journey. 

“The event was a huge success. We cycled on some busy roads without bike lanes as well as on the Cycle Superhighway next to the Thames. Some of the participants mentioned they were not aware of the Cycle Superhighways and discovering them made them more confident about cycling in London.

“It was also the first time riding an e-bike for two of the participants and they said they found them easier to cycle than mechanical bicycles.”

Last year, Swapfiets trialled the UK’s first e-cycling proficiency course consisting of three class levels (beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders) to tackle people’s lack of confidence cycling in city centres. 

Swapfiets is using insights from its recent study to inform new programmes and events aimed at breaking down the barriers that women face cycling.

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