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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.