17 May 2022

On your bike Kilkenny - girls cycling campaign launches summer celebration

Bike With Your Bestie today for #andshecycles

Kilkenny News

The Bike With Your Bestie programme is asking everyone to get on their bikes and cycle

A campaign to get more teenage girls cycling will celebrate a national day of cycling. Bike With Your Bestie, an #andshecycles summer celebration, is part of a campaign by An Taisce’s Green-Schools programme, which focusses on encouraging young women – particularly teenagers – to cycle while recognising and discussing the reasons why they feel that cycling is not for them. 

Today's Bike With Your Bestie sees the programme asking everyone to get on their bikes and cycle - be it a short spin or a long ride – and share their journeys with Green-Schools online. The message will be echoed by this year’s group of #andshecycles Ambassadors, 25 students from schools around the country who took part in the pilot ambassador programme during the 2020/2021 academic year. The Ambassadors will, where possible, be biking with their besties.

The #andshecycles Campaign

Why are young women avoiding the bike as a means of transport? Notwithstanding the usual concerns facing every cyclist on our roads, the #andshecycles campaign has found that social issues like peer pressure, harassment, and a perception of cycling as ‘uncool’ or ‘not for them’ has impacted the number of young women who choose to travel by bike.

"When we launched our campaign in late 2019 we hoped to bring it around on the country on a roadshow but 2020 put paid to our plans," said Jane Hackett, manager of the Green-Schools Travel Programme. "With our #andshecycles Ambassadors on board now we feel this is the perfect time to celebrate cycling and the campaign; there’s no doubt that the number of people cycling has increased in the past year and we want to make sure that teenage girls feel included in this and have their unique concerns about cycling listened to."

The event also hopes to 'switch up the stock image' of girls on bikes. During its launch period in 2019, the programme placed images of female cyclists on advertising hoarding around Dublin City; images very unlike those you might find during an online search for images of young women cycling. On Thursday it is hoped that shared images from participants will move towards replacing the standard stock image, which often portray a woman cycling as either a very sporty endeavour or a poetic image of a woman cycling through a field or on a beach, both rarely the case for the average cyclist.

To entice everyone to share their journeys, Green-Schools are hosting a giveaway for a bike on their Instagram account and during Thursday will have spot prizes running for anyone who shares their Bike with their Bestie.

Top tips for cycling on July 22

Grab a friend! If you’re nervous about cycling or haven’t done it in a while, recruit a friend to be there for you.

Make a day of it! We’re all in staycation mode so why not combine your cycle with a trip to the beach or inland waterway or lake? Maybe there’s a museum or historic site in your town/village you’ve always meant to visit but never have; get there on a bike. Check online to see if there’s bike parking at your chosen location.

Map your journey: use an app like Strava or something simple like Google Maps to map your journey, especially if it’s new to you. Check the elevation to make sure you’re not surprised and enjoy discovering new places by bike.

Add it to your calendar: if you don’t think you’ve time for a cycle or you’re busy working, add a short lunchtime cycle to your calendar or combine a cycle into your commute to your workplace. You’ll still enjoy it even if it’s scheduled!

Don’t have a bike? Enter the Green-Schools Instagram giveaway to win a bike! You should also check out local bike hire programmes like those in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork. Ask around; you never know if a relative has a bike they rarely use or with Greenways becoming so popular lots of towns now have multiple bike hire options so you can try before you buy.

Stay cool! Today is set to be another hot day across Ireland so wear sun protection and don’t cycle beyond a distance you’re already comfortable with. Make sure you have plenty of water on board too.

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