A Labour MP who represents a constituency with one of the highest levels of cycling to work in London has called for two-speed cycle lanes to encourage more women onto bikes by allowing them to avoid “Lycra clad mad cyclists.”
Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South & Shoreditch and vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, says that having separate lanes would cater both to those who want to “pootle” along, as well as cyclists aiming to get to their destination as quickly as they can pedal.
The former Home Office minister also called for more cycle-friendly clothing for women, who she said can also be deterred from riding because of commitments such as childcare, reports Telegraph.co.uk.
She was speaking after the publication this week of the Department for Transport’s annual National Travel Survey, which revealed that in England, men on average are likely to make three times as many trips by bike in a year than women, at 21 and 7, respectively.
Ms Hillier said: “One of the big things is… that women don’t want the “muck sweat” of cycling. There are some fashion designers around Hackney and east London now which are designing cycling friendly fashion, but not enough yet.
“Men arrive at work in flat shoes and a suit if you are going to an office job and so it is easier to turn up on a bike – for a women there is the worry of wearing a skirt, or a dress, maybe high heels, then you have to think about something else to wear on your bike, how to carry your work clothes. Although there are plenty of women who hop on and go.
She continued: “I think the cycle planners have something to answer for – we need to think about cycling being just a normal thing, and I think Hackney has tried to pioneer that where you can cycle down a normal road, and you are not forced down rat runs and with the Lycra clad mad cyclists.
"It can be quite scary with all these people whizzing past you and you are afraid you are going to fall over. When cycling is planned ideally, you have a fast and a slow lane, so those that want to pootle along at a normal pace can do so," she added.
Figures released last year from the 2011 Census showed that Hackney has the highest proportion of people travelling to work by bike out of all of the capital’s boroughs.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.