Costumes encouraged, men welcome, but there's a serious message behind the ride

Suffragette Ride & Tea Party to highlight cycling gender imbalance

A Suffragette Ride and Tea Party will celebrate International Women’s Day – and highlight the gender imbalance of cycling – in Greater Manchester. 

Costumes are encouraged for the historic bike tour, which is organised by Sustrans and Manchester Bike Tours. It will visit the Pankhurst Centre, former home of Emmeline Pankhurst, and end in Alexandra Park, where the suffragettes held many of their rallies.

The event is part of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Women on Wheels activities in March.

The bicycle was a symbol of freedom for the Suffragettes, who often attended demonstrations on bikes. Yet today’s research shows there are upto four times as many men who cycle compared to women.

Sustrans’ recent Bike Life survey of over 4,000 people in Greater Manchester found that fears around cycling on the roads was one of the main factors which prevented people cycling. In cities like Copenhagen, where there are bikes lanes and other facilities to separate bikes from traffic, more women cycle than men.

Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans North Director said: “In the Bike Life survey many women told us that cycling is not a real choice for them at the moment as they say the roads don’t feel safe.

“The Suffragettes got on their bikes to fight for the right to vote. Today we ask for a long term commitment to investment in separate cycle lanes so we have the freedom to ride our bikes, get healthy and improve our environment.

“We’ve made a great start in investment for cycling in Greater Manchester but to really make the kind of conditions where people feel safe to choose cycling as their regular form of transport we need to commit to long term funding to build and maintain cycle routes, much as we do for roads. If you feel strongly about this, please write to your MP using the form on our website.”

Helen Ramsden, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Head of Active Travel and Travel Choices, added: “Women on Wheels is all about inspiring more women to get out and enjoy all the benefits cycling has to offer, from keeping fit and making new friends to saving money on your daily commute.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or if you haven’t been on a bike since you were young – I’m sure there will be a fun activity that’s right for you.

“You don’t have to be competitive or spend a fortune to ride a bike – cycling is for everyone and I hope this month of activity will help give more women confidence to enjoy life on two wheels. All the events offer an easy way to get on your bike and have some fun!”

The Suffragette Ride is supported by CTC and part of the Women on Wheels programme of events organised by Transport for Greater Manchester in March. Manchester Bike Tours runs regular bike rides on the theme of the suffragettes. The Suffragette Ride starts at 11am from Chorlton Green to the Pankhurst centre, ending in Alexandra Park around 1pm. The led ride has limited places but confident cyclists can ride the route themselves and meet at the Lodge in Alexandra Park for tea and cake, talks and a display on the suffragettes and cycling. Edwardian costumes encouraged and men are welcome.

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