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Actress Maxine Peake urges more women to cycle

"Cycling is very male-dominated and sometimes women might not feel completely comfortable"...

Actress Maxine Peake is urging more women to take up cycling as research shows a huge rise in the number of women getting on their bikes during lockdown. 

To launch its annual Women’s Festival of Cycling, Cycling UK conducted a survey and discovered that more women have taken up cycling during the pandemic.

The charity found that 31 per cent of women surveyed switched from a car to a bike for everyday journeys.

The Women’s Festival of Cycling, hosted by Cycling UK and sponsored by Nottingham-based cycle manufacturer, Raleigh begins today, and hopes to encourage more women to cycle.

Although the number of women cycling did increase during lockdown, men are still cycling nearly twice as much as women.

Peake, who has starred in a wide array of hit TV programmes, such as Shameless and Silk, said: “Cycling gives you such a sense of freedom and calm. It’s a brilliant way to exercise – it’s fantastic for your mental health to be able to get out into nature.”

The 47 year old, has been a keen cyclist for a number of years and in 2012 she even wrote a play about cycling legend Beryl Burton.

> The Greatest -The Times and Life of Beryl Burton, by William Fotheringham - review

Peake added: “You need that encouragement, especially for women. We can feel a bit self-conscious sometimes and a bit judged.

"Cycling is very male-dominated and sometimes women might not feel completely comfortable, or feel it’s too competitive.”

Cycling UK launched its survey of 3,400 people from across the UK, in February 2021 to understand women’s cycling habits and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “Cycling is such a simple way for all of us to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce pollution, get more exercise and improve our wellbeing.

“What we need to do now is encourage those women who took to cycling during the pandemic to continue, and ask them to help us spread the message about the enormous benefits of cycling both personally and environmentally.”

The festival is taking place between 17 July and 1 August and features a range of virtual events, social media challenges, local group rides and a celebration of 100 Women in Cycling.

The ‘100 Women in Cycling’ roll call is a chance to recognise and appreciate women who work to inspire, teach, and encourage others to cycle.

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