Initiative seeks to overcome barriers to cycling

An initiative in York is bringing bicycles and beauty products together to highlight break down some of the barriers that prevent young women from cycling.

Schoolgirls from primary and secondary schools across the city are being encouraged to get riding through the initiative, called Beauty and The Bike, which is being run by Bike It officer Vicki Hill from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans with the help of female cycling trainers from Cycling City York and staff from the city’s Lush cosmetics store.

Girls taking part in the initiative attend three sessions addressing issues including the health and fitness benefits of cycling and how to look good while keeping safe on the bike.

Participants are given goodie bags containing free They will receive free ethical beauty products and also undertake natural beauty sessions, as well as learning basic bicycle maintenance skills, getting refresher cycle training and drawing up their own bike routes for a guided ride into the city centre.

All girls taking part are also given the opportunity to design a T-shirt aimed at promoting cycling among their peers, and once the project ends the winning design will be put into production and modelled by the girls.

Ms Hill said that to date, the initiative has been greeted positively. “The project is proving a huge hit,” she explained. “We are half way through now and in almost every school we have been oversubscribed with girls wanting to take part.”

She continued: “It’s something completely different that has really caught their imagination and made them see that, with the right training, equipment and, of course, confidence, they can be free, independent and able to cycle anywhere they choose. That’s what Beauty and the Bike is all about!”

Graham Titchener, programme manager for Cycling City York, said: “Young girls are just one of the many groups of people that we want to encourage to cycle more as part of our drive to increase the overall cycling rate in York. We know that nationally young girls are a low cycling group, so I’m keen to see York bucking this trend and leading the way for others to follow.”

He added: “The Beauty and the Bike project is a proven, effective and really novel way of getting across positive messages about cycling to this particular target audience, and we’re confident that it will have a lasting effect in terms of encouraging girls to make cycling part of the daily routine.”

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.