'We need more safe cycling routes across London'

Women on Wheels cycling through Westminster

Women on Wheels cycle event through Westminster - Credit: Clare Rogers

I am one of the women who organised the Winter Wonder Ride for women (and allies) that took place on January 16.

On Sunday, hundreds of women, families and allies rode through central London on an inaugural Women on Wheels group ride that’s likely to be repeated again regularly from now on, organised by campaigners inside and alongside London Cycling Campaign’s local borough groups.

It was a delight to cycle past iconic landmarks of our city together. Families with kids from three-years-old cycled along Embankment, those cycling using hand-trikes and e-bikes rode over Blackfriars and the bells of Santander hire bikes sounded out on Park Lane.

Helen Jones, Westminster Cycling Campaign

Helen Jones wants better cycling for women - Credit: Helen Jones

People who had never dared cycle in central London, as well as those using bikes as their main means of transport around London, rejoiced in safe cycle routes that mean that women and kids can cycle freely and safely, in comfort. Such protected routes are vital if we want cycling to be for everyone, not just MAMILs (middle-aged men In Lycra)!

We travelled exclusively on protected routes: Cycleway C3 from Hyde Park Corner to Embankment, into the city via C3, C6 over Blackfriars. We looped back across the recently installed Westminster Bridge cycle tracks, and celebrated the Park Lane scheme sadly attacked by Westminster Councillors, tabloid media and taxi cab drivers. We could not have contemplated leading such a diverse group of people along busy main roads with just painted lines or along rat-run side streets.

Last week the air quality across London was so poor that the government and several councils advised people not to exercise. A significant contribution to improving air quality could be made if journeys made by motor vehicles were done by bike. We applaud the work being done by boroughs such as Camden, Islington and now hopefully Haringey in tackling unnecessary motor vehicle journeys and in enabling more people – more women – to get cycling, to reduce pollution, inactivity, road danger and climate emissions – and to enable our kids to roam more freely once more.

For that to happen more, we’ll need more schemes across central London – in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, both infamously hostile to cycling – and beyond. Please join us on the next ride. And support a move away from cars and towards walking, cycling and public transport, if not for you, for everyone’s sakes.

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Helen Jones is from Westminster Cycling Campaign and one of the organisers of Winter Wonder Ride.