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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cycling Victoria launches new Breeze bike riding program for women

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Cycling Victoria is launching a new bike riding program designed to get more women involved in cycling, after discovering that only 15% of their current membership is female.

The program is funded by Sport and Recreation Victoria and aims to establish a network of women-only bike rides across Victoria, to be led by accredited female teachers.

The fun, social rides will be aimed at women who are just starting out in cycling and will have a policy of leaving “no rider behind”. Each ride will be conducted at a comfortable level and skills training will be provided to all participants. The rides will also start and finish at a café so the women can mingle, relax and get to know each another, which Cycling Victoria says is just as important as the ride itself.

The program is called Breeze and was started in the UK after the low female participation rates in cycling were discovered. Breeze UK found that women weren’t cycling because of time constraints, confidence and the idea that the sport was male dominated. So they set out to change this.

Breeze is all about getting women back on bikes, developing their confidence and skills, and introducing them to the social and health benefits that cycling can offer. The program also aims to remove the perception that cycling and cycling clubs are only for the very fit or elite riders.

The goal of helping women feel comfortable and confident of a bike directly aligns with AustCycle’s mission to increase community participation in cycling. For this reason, the female ride leaders will be trained and accredited through AustCycle.

Cycling Victoria has had interest from 50 women who currently wish to undertake the AustCycle training, with classes will be held over the next two months.

It is hoped that over 1000 women will be involved in the Breeze program in the coming year, and although Cycling Victoria admits this aim is high, they believe it is definitely achievable. 

“The focus on leadership in cycling is intended to provide additional pathways for women to become more involved in the sport at all levels including future representation at the committee and boardroom level,” a spokesperson from Cycling Victoria said.

“Our aims are high, but we believe there is a real potential to achieve them and introduce the sport of cycling to 50% of the population”.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Breeze program or becoming a ride leader contact the Program Coordinator Natasha Mitchell on natasha.mitchell@cycling.org.au.

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