Save the Date: AGM announcement and making your voice heard – November 3rd

consultation and lego

There are better ways of doing consultations about our cities, towns and streets – including using Lego!

It’s been a busy year for those of us involved in the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland, which has meant that although things have been quiet for us here, we’ve been working to bring our perspective, and the perspective we hear from our members, to all our other activities within cycling. One of the things we hear a lot is that consultations – of which there have been a lot in recent weeks, with more in the offing – are an area where people struggle. Even if they’re not ‘nonsultations’ or bafflingly technical to a lay person, people often end up suffering from consultation fatigue, or simply don’t have the time to attend an event held in the town hall on a Tuesday lunchtime in November. And when you have made the effort to respond, it can all feel like a giant waste of time. And yet, the alternative – not being consulted – seems worse.

With a lot of important consultations happening around Scotland just now and in the coming months, we want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, especially those who tend to be overlooked. So we’re delighted to announce a joint event with We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote that will try and demystify the process of consultations, challenge some of the ways that they happen, and establish what the barriers are to people getting their perspective across. As well as providing information about how to increase the likelihood of your own response being effective, we’ll be feeding back to the powers that be how they can best consult to make sure that they hear from women, minority groups, those with disabilities and other groups who stand to benefit most from a refashioning of our towns and cities.

The free event will be held at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, on Saturday 3rd November, 2018, from around 11-4, followed by a short Women’s Cycle Forum AGM. More details coming soon, but please save the date – and let us know what you’d like to know about the exciting world of consultations.


Join us at EdFOC – Pecha Caka and Women’s Read and Ride Tour

As Edinburgh gears up for its annual Festival of Cycling we hope you’ll join us for two great events that we’ll be running to amuse, amaze and above all inspire you in your cycling life.


Come and share, whether it’s your stories or your food

On Friday 15th of June, we will be repeating our fabulous ‘Pecha Caka’ event at the Ukrainian Club – a Pecha Kucha evening, but with added cake. This kicks off with a pre-event workshop for those who’d like to give public speaking (and particularly Pecha Kucha) a go but don’t quite know where to start.

Last year we had wonderful line up of women, some experienced speakers and some stepping up for the first time – recounting adventures from Kyrgyzstan to closer to home, and covering campaigning, the law, and women’s lives in cycling. This year we’re hoping for a similar variety – we’ve already got some fab women lined up who we’re really looking forward to hearing from, but if you’ve got a story to tell, and you can tell it in just over six minutes and 20 slides – we want to hear from you!

The workshop runs from 5:30 to 6:30 and then the main event starts at 6:45. You don’t need to be speaking to attend the workshop, it’s there for everyone who thinks it might help them build their skills.

The event is free but please do bring some cake to share if you bake or a £2 donation if you don’t – Book here.

Continuing with the cycles and stories theme, the Women’s Read and Ride tour, run jointly with Cycling UK Scotland on Sunday 17th June is a chance to join epic cyclist Kate Rawles – just returned from riding from Colombia to Cape Horn on a bamboo bike – on a much less epic potter around the independent bookshops (and a cafe…) of Edinburgh. This is a celebration of women writing and cycling and writing about cycling (men are of course welcome to join the tour), and it will be an excellent warm up for Kate’s main EdFOC talk that evening.

The ride is free, but we challenge you to get out of the bookshops unscathed, so make sure your bike has roomy panniers. Meet at the Meadows for a 3pm start, finishing at 5:30 at the Pleasance.

Tell us your tales of cycling liberation for International Women’s Day

Thursday 8th March is International Women’s Day and in the run up to it, Sustrans published this handy report about about gender and active travel which is well worth bookmarking for future reference. It highlights – with ample evidence based on both current research and asking the women themselves – how our transport policies have led to women facing additional barriers to cycling – over and above the hostile road environment all cyclists in the UK face – and it ends with a call for more women to be involved in transport policy at all levels, something we are right behind.

However, we also think that IWD is a time to be positive, and in honour of Susan B. Anthony and her famous quote about bicycles, it’s the liberation that cycling brings, rather than the barriers, that we want to celebrate this year.

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling... I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling… I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

So go on – tell us about the moment when you felt that feeling of freedom and self-reliance yourself, taking to two wheels – or three – and tag it with the hashtag #untrammelledwomenhood. We’ll be tweeting and blogging some of our own as well.

We look forward to hearing your stories!

Short notice: Meet us in Inverness this Wednesday

Anyone here in or around Inverness?

Women’s Cycle Forum founders Suzanne Forup and Sally Hinchcliffe will be in Inverness this week for some Walk Cycle Vote business and while we’ve arranged to meet a few people involved in cycle campaigning already, we wondered if there were any other awesome cycling women out there who’d be up for a chat, meet up, maybe a drink & a nibble or two?

So we’ll be ensconcing ourselves in the Black Isle Bar from about 5pm on Wednesday 10th January (yes, that’s the day after tomorrow! Sorry about the short notice). If you’re around and want to say hello, drop in and join us. We’re meeting afterwards with local campaigners from 7pm in the same place

bikes in Inverness

The Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland turns one

To be strictly accurate, we turned one in June, but it takes time to plan a proper birthday party, which is what our first official AGM turned into.

As always when we’re running these events, we spend a lot of time worrying that nobody will come. So it was a relief to see a good few women gather in George Square on Saturday afternoon, ready for the short ride to the Glasgow Women’s Library. Brief though it was, it still managed to rain on us, pretty hard, so it was doubly kind of the wonderful GWL staff to allow us to park our dripping bikes right inside the library building. And in the end, we needed to bring in more chairs to accommodate everyone who came, possibly lured by our many tweets about cake beforehand.

Bikes at the library

The best bike parking in Glasgow!

As it was an AGM we had some formal business to conduct: first the Co-convenors’ report, and then the statement of accounts by our Treasurer, Alice Lyall. Those members of the committee who were willing to stay on were re-elected, and we now have two new committee members, Daisy Narayanan (elected on the day) and Julia Loecherbach (co-opted afterwards).

With that concluded, we turned to our three guest speakers, who all in some way stepped out of their comfort zones in their talks.

Daisy Narayanan talked about the women who had inspired her in her own journey. These included her own mother and grandmother who set an example of strong women, but also a colleague who inspired her not to hide behind the ‘invisible war paint’ that women sometimes feel they have to don in a male-dominated world. She recalled feeling inspired and uplifted by our series of women and cycling interviews during International Women’s Day, something that got her through a tough day at work.

Anna Richardson talked about bringing a whole new perspective to what she calls the best job in the world – Glasgow’s Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reductions, which means she has responsibility for all transport, not just cycling and walking. She is encouraging her staff to stop thinking and talking like engineers and instead to think about how the best and fairest use of space in a city with the lowest car ownership in Scotland. She also drew parallels between women and bikes – the way we sometimes feel as if we shouldn’t take up too much space on the road or in the conversation, and the way we have to learn to ‘take the lane’ whether that be actually on a bike or in real life.

Alex Feechan talked about how cycling, specifically mountain biking, got her through a tough period of her life. With her background in fashion and textiles, she was pretty horrified at the ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach to designing women’s cycling apparel – not just was it not very attractive or well made, it was actually insulting to the tough, talented women she was riding with. She took the plunge and launched Findra Clothing to give women the kit they deserved, designed with us, and the Scottish weather in mind. And she found that some of the lessons she had learned on the bike stood her in good stead in business and in life: that you need to commit, that there will be bumps and difficulties in the way, that the climb up to the top is hard and can seem endless – but that the resulting downhill run will be worth it in the end.

After a brief pause to open some bottles of fizz – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – we then turned to our audience for a final discussion on what we should be looking to do in the future. Interesting, the conversation very quickly turned towards campaigning – providing resources to help people engage with politicians and officials, looking at the specific barriers to cycling that women face in this country, and also about widening and changing the conversation around cycling and our roads and the places where we live. We talked particularly about children and the conditions they particularly need – something that would unlock cycling for many.

And then we were out of time. Thank you everyone who came, who joined, who spoke, who helped and who baked. It’s given us much food for thought and we look forward to spending the next year growing as an organisation and doing what we can to provide a voice for women in cycling in Scotland.


Coming to the AGM? Ride with us!

What’s better than a gathering of awesome women, cake and a few bottles of fizz? All that plus a cycle ride to get there. Our AGM is in Glasgow on Saturday 19th which coincides with both Glasgow Pride and a couple of Orange marches. This means that the city – never exactly the easiest to cycle in for the uninitiated – might feel a bit daunting, especially with road closures to negotiate.

exploring Glasgow

Suzanne Forup exploring Glasgow earlier in the year (hopefully it will be a bit warmer next week!)

However, there’s nothing better than riding a bike in good company, so if you want to join Sally, Suzanne and Lee for a relaxed pootle to the Glasgow Women’s Library, please meet in George Square at 3pm which will give us ample time to get there (and get organised) and allow participants to check out the marvellous GWL before we kick off our AGM at 4pm. We’ll be heading down via the Clyde and around Glasgow Green and avoiding traffic and road closures as much as possible.


Three great speakers for our AGM!

As we celebrate our first official year – we really hope you can join us for our AGM and hear from our three great speakers, all in their own way women at the top of their game in the world of cycling. Alex Feechan, Anna Richardson and Daisy Narayanan will all be joining us at the Glasgow Women’s Library from 4-6pm on Saturday 19th August.

If you’re coming – please do let us know by booking your free place here – we have to know how much cake to bring!

Alex Feechan

Alex Feechan, founder of Findra Clothing, has founded a business on bike wear which is the antithesis of ‘shrink it and pink it’. Findra women’s cycle wear is covetable on and off the bike, performs seriously well (the Adventure Syndicate lasses wear it) and, most importantly, is better than anything the men can buy. Read more about Alex here.

Anna Richardson

Anna Richardson, Glasgow councillor and newly appointed City Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reductions has a huge job on her hands – transforming a city that is a byword for urban motorways and car domination into a truly human-scaled city. As someone who only started cycling to work a year ago, and who is known for her admiration for the Dutch cycle design guide the CROW manual, she has made all the right noises – and we will be watching with interest how that turns into a real difference on the streets. Read more about Anna here.

Daisy Narayanan

Daisy Narayanan, Deputy Director for Built Environment at Sustrans Scotland  (and recently Acting Director while the Director has been on secondment) is sometimes reluctant to blow her own trumpet, but she’s has been quietly forging away behind the scenes as a woman in the very male worlds of architecture and urban design. As the leader of the team delivering the bulk of Scotland’s cycling infrastructure projects, she has a huge influence on the shape of our towns and cities. Read more about Daisy here.


Save the Date: Our AGM


Lee Cragie at our launch

It’s more than a year since we formally launched in Edinburgh with the help of Jools Walker and Lee Craigie. Time to look back, and think about where we’re going too

Save the date! We’ve been going for over a year as a properly constituted body, so we will be holding our AGM on Saturday 19th August, at the wonderful Glasgow Women’s Library, from 4-6 pm.

We now have three fantastic speakers to inspire us and it will be a chance to reflect on what we’ve done in the past year, and to look forward and plan what we will do next.

Whether you’re a member or not, come along and be part of it as we launch ourselves into another year of making life difficult for all-male panels and celebrating women’s cycling in all its forms.

Please let us know you are coming – you can book your free place here on Eventbrite

Women’s Read, Ride, Write Tour – 11 June

Join adventure cyclist Jenny Tough and creative writer Helen Boden for a cycle tour of Edinburgh with a difference. This is a FREE event as part of the amazing Edinburgh Festival of Cycling.

We’ll be riding, reading and writing our way around the city, stopping to check out a few independent bookshops and attempting to squeeze in a cake stop too. No writing experience is required, just a bike and a love of books!

The ride will cover no more than 4 to 5 miles, there will be some readings, conversation, writing and have we mentioned cakes yet…

Please note this ride is a celebration of female cycling literature, not a female-only ride. Everyone who enjoys reading literature written by women is welcome.

Who can say no to cake and books, right?!

Pecha Caka – sharing cake and stories with the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland

Thursday 15th June, Ukrainian Club, Edinburgh – Edinburgh Festival of Cycling. Workshop 5-6pm; main event 7-9pm

Scotland is full of women doing interesting things in and around cycling. We know this from our Women in Cycling interviews, our Facebook group, and from all the awesome women we’ve met in our travels around Scotland. But where are they when it comes to conferences and cycling events?


Are you ready to make your voice heard?

Part of the problem, we know, is that organisers do not take issues of diversity seriously enough, and so they don’t try hard enough to get a range of speakers. But we also know that some women don’t put themselves forward, whether because they feel uncomfortable about speaking in public (well, who relishes it?) or because they simply haven’t had the experience.


Come and share, whether it’s your stories or your food

Our Pecha Caka event, part of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, is a chance both to hear from all the fab women we’re missing as a result – and for women in cycling to dip their toes into the public speaking waters in a friendly and supportive event. Built around the Pecha Kucha format of short (20 slides of 20 seconds each) talks on a variety of topics, we’ll have a mix of speakers – from women at the top of their game, to those just starting out. We’re asking people to bring cake in lieu of an entry fee because sharing food brings people together and breaks down the barriers between audience and speaker (and also because we really like cake).

To encourage people to give it a go, we’re running an hour-long mini workshop beforehand. This will give participants the chance to practise and hone their presentations or develop a mini Pecha Kucha (just six slides) and – if they want to – sign up to speak that evening.

So please do come along and join us in Edinburgh on the 15th June. The workshop will run from 5pm-6pm and the main event is at 7. You can come to the workshop even if you’re not planning to speak in the evening, or if you’re not sure if you can. Or you can just come straight to the Pecha Caka at 7 whether you’re speaking or not. It is free, but please do bring some cake to share (or a suggested donation of £2 if you can’t).  Any surplus will be passed on to a good home.

Book here