Girls Try Bikes, Discover New Freedom

The question of how to get more women on bikes has received quite a lot of attention recently, in part because of a recent article in Scientific American that suggested women are an "indicator species" for bike-friendly communities.

A group of people in Darlington, United Kingdom, decided to approach the problem of getting women on bikes by getting girls on bikes. The result is Beauty and the Bike, a multifaceted project — a book, a documentary, and perhaps most excitingly, a bike-share program. Watch the short version of the film below. It’s so wonderful to see how the girls move from skepticism about cycling to exhilaration about how "liberating" it is.

This is a project that meets girls on their own terms, and that doesn’t minimize or denigrate the importance of peer pressure in the choices they make. As the coordinators write:

For teenagers the question of their image is crucial. And if cycling is seen as mad or eccentric, it is unlikely to appear attractive. Thus, UK transport statistics show that the already low percentage of British girls who have cycled regularly as a child, stop doing so when they reach puberty.

Beauty and the Bike shows that it is entirely possible to change those attitudes. It’s good stuff. Thanks to new Streetsblog Network member Utility Cycling for bringing this one to our attention.

More from around the network: Hard Drive on how ants are smarter than people when it comes to traffic. The Transport Politic looks at the role of corporate lobbyists in the push for high-speed rail. And Austin on Two Wheels crosses paths with a family of five riding 7,000 miles on a quint bike.

  • Notice none of these girls wears a helmet.

  • J. Mork

    That’s okay, because the health benefits of riding a bicycle outweigh the risk of head injury, percentage-wise.

  • Maybe if we didn’t put so much emphasis on safety girls wouldn’t shy away from cycling for fear that it’s dangerous…. or will give them helmet hair.

  • zach

    Notice that none of them had drop bars, aggressive geometries, or racing tires, and that they all seemed to have fenders.

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