Reporting back: our ‘cake summit’

group photo

Taking a break from deliberations in the sunshine

On Saturday 21st January, some committee members of the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland, and a few guests, got together at the Glasgow Bike station for what we loosely called a ‘cake summit’. We wanted to take a step back from our busy lives and  take the time to talk about how we do what we do – particularly campaigning – and how we could do it better and more effectively, and without losing our sanity! Because it was a cake summit we brought cake to share, and then we spent what turned out to be a glorious winter Saturday in a windowless room, setting the world to rights.

The conversation was pretty wide ranging, but at the end of it we had agreed a few key points that we want to share, and also to try and bring into our own campaigning. They’re not particularly ‘women’s’ points – but perhaps they do reflect a wider realisation that if we’re to bring about real change in the world, first we have to change the narrative, change our own perspective, and change the way we work.

Here were the main things which struck the greatest chord with those taking part:

more than cycling

First: we need to find common ground with people who walk, because that’s all of us, and because it’s something people understand much more widely than just cycling. And pedestrians are just as poorly served in many ways as people on bikes. Let’s talk about how we move, not how vehicles move.

Second: we need to change the way we talk about cycling and who we talk to – blanket certainty is offputting and so is picking fights over what appear to be minutiae. On the other hand, narrative does change minds, and so do great visualisations. So we should concentrate our communication on telling stories and using positive images and visions of how things could be different and how that would improve everyone’s lives.

Third: we need to get out from behind our screens and out of our social media bubble and engage with the real world and the wider public. This means we need to do things differently – a bit of tactical urbanism, activities like Parking Day or just going out and talking to people face to face.

Fourth: we need to ensure that people (including ourselves) don’t feel they have to be experts in things like street design and planning matters in order to have their say over how their streets, towns and cities should change. We should concentrate on communicating the bigger vision, of what we want to see, and let the details be worked
out once the vision has been agreed.


Sharing out the goodies we had brought

Finally: just gathering in the same room, sharing food we had made or brought, enjoying each other’s company and making sure we listened to each other, was refreshing and energising in itself. Campaigning is for the long haul, and if we’re to keep going we need to remember to ‘be excellent to each other’ and keep bringing together great people to share great ideas in a friendly, enjoyable atmosphere.

So what’s next? We deliberately didn’t make an action list, other than writing up this brief summary. We hope that over the next 12 months, some of the conclusions above will be reflected in what we do in our various campaigning roles. And, having enjoyed ourselves and found it useful, we might consider running similar events in the future – day or weekend retreats to gather, reflect and share ideas (and cake).



On the Off Chance: Meet us in Perth 18th January

perth_birdOnce again Suzanne and Sally are on their travels – this time to Perth – and hoping to meet up with any cycling women in the area who fancy an hour or so of chat, snacks, beverages and networking. We’ll be at the City Cafe in the Imax Playhouse from 5pm till just before 7

Last time we had a great turnout in Dundee and not only did we get to meet some great cycling women, many of them were meeting each other for the first time and were able to share ideas, contacts, routes and tips about cycling around their area.

So come along and say hello – and who knows who else you may meet …

World Bike Girl – Jan 2017

Join Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland for an evening with World Bike Girl, Ishbel Taromsari. Ishbel has been cycling the world solo for 2 and a half years and has pedalled across 16 countries, documenting her trip along the way.

She’ll be telling us about her incredible journey, from her scariest miles – cycling along Syrian border in 2014 where she was taken to the Syrian Revolutionunnamed Command Centre – to her hardest miles, which was crossing the Andes mountains from Chile into Bolivia reaching 5000 metres.

Ishbel uses the bicycle as a platform to promote human and animal rights, shining the spotlight on the plight of both animals and people in challenging environments. Before cycling the world she was a velodrome track sprinter for Iranian Women’s Team and a velodrome sprinter for Glasgow Life & a Scottish Institute of Sport Athlete.

The event is free to attend, but we would be grateful for donations towards the costs of the evening.

The events are free but ticketed. Tickets must be reserved via Eventbrite.

Sat 14 January 2017, 19:00 – 20:30
Forest Cafe, 141 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh
Eventbrite tickets

Sat 21 January 2017, 19:00 – 21:00
Glasgow Bike Station, 65 Haugh Rd, Glasgow
Eventbrite tickets

On the Off Chance: Meet us in Dundee 29th November

Tay bridge

Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland founders Sally Hinchcliffe and Suzanne Forup are on their travels again – and they’d be delighted to meet anyone who’s interested in meeting up in Dundee on Tuesday 29th November (yes, sorry, short notice again). We’ll be at the Innis and Gunn Beer Kitchen from 5pm to 7pm to chat with anyone who wants to find out more about us – or just share stories of cycling in Dundee. Last time we did this in Aberdeen it was a great success, some good contacts were made and a few initiatives (including a possible Belles on Bikes group for the city) may well arise from it.

We’re also going to be at Dundee Gasps for Breath! on the 30th November, organised by Friends of the Earth Tayside so if you’re going to that, please say hello.

Women’s Cycle Forum Meet-up @ Glasgow, Fri 11 Nov

Meet us at Siempre Bicycle Cafe in Glasgow as we join Adventure Syndicate athlete, environmentalist and author Kate Rawles, who cycled from Texas to Alaska following the spine of the Rockies exploring climate change.

Kate will share some of the highs and lows of The Carbon Cycle journey and how it evolved into ‘adventure plus’ – using adventurous journeys to raise awareness and inspire action on our major environmental challenges.

Supported by Cycling UK Scotland, this evening is a send off for Kate on her next adventure as she rides from Costa Rica to Cape Horn on a bamboo bike. But it’s also a chance to meet up with women from across the spectrum of cycling – whether you think nothing of crossing continents on two wheels, or whether popping down to the shops by bike is adventure enough.

Event is free. Further info here.

“Cake and Chat” at Cycling Scotland Conference – Mon 7 November

“Cake and Chat” – Monday 7 November – 4pm – Perth

Join us for cake and chat after your Cycling Scotland study tour to find out more about what we do and what we can all do to make cycling more diverse and inclusive at every level.

You can also join if you are not attending the conference. This is a wee informal get together for those interested in finding out more about the Women’s Cycle Forum.

Where: at the cafe in the foyer, Perth Concert Hall, Perth (Mill Street, Perth PH1 5HZ)

Further info about the conference:

Hello Aberdeen!

Despite very short notice – we were delighted to meet half a dozen of the cycling women of Aberdeen yesterday evening.

Thank you to everyone who turned up – some good conversations were had and good connections made. Cycling in Aberdeen is not for the faint hearted (if our brief exploration is anything to go by) but it was good to see plenty of women out there on bikes.

We’ll definitely be popping up elsewhere in Scotland when and where we can – watch this space

On the Off Chance: Meet us in Aberdeen

Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland founders Suzanne Forup and Sally Hinchcliffe will be in Aberdeen on Tuesday 4th October and would be delighted to meet any women involved in cycling (in any capacity – including simply riding a bike). If you’re up for coffee, chat, and a bite to eat, join us at the Foodstory Cafe (map) between 5 and 7pm. A chance to find out more about what we do, meet other cycling women in Aberdeen (assuming you don’t all know each other anyway) and let us know what you think the WCFS should be doing. You can even join up!

Hoping to see you there …


Two images from last night’s launch sum up the evening for me – and illustrate why we need the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland.

Lee Craigie bike

Lee Craigie  of the Adventure Syndicate and ‘Jimmy’, her Shand Cycles mountain bike

The first was Lee Craigie’s beast of a bike, still coated in the dust of the 550 mile mountain biking time trial she had completed. Whatever image you have of ‘women’s cycling’ that bike was probably not it – but as Lee points out, when it comes to extreme endurance events, women are close to or as physiologically capable as men, possibly even more so.

panel problem

The panel problem …

The second was Jools Walker’s illustration of the ‘panel problem’ – Jools sat on the end of a five-person panel, herself and four middle-aged white men, attempting to provide the ‘women’s’ point of view. As Jools said – ‘unlike Chaka Khan, I’m not all women’.

As we’ve said time and time again, we never started the Women’s Cycle Forum because we think women have one unique point of view. We started it because we are all different – as different as Lee’s Shand and Jools’s Pashley Princess – and we all need to be heard.

Now the hard work begins of processing all the fantastic suggestions we got on the night of what the WCFS should do – and more importantly learning how to function as a membership organisation with so many different (and perhaps even opposing) points of view. Please join us as we go on our own journey – and tackle our own metaphorical or real 500 mile challenges.

Sally Hinchcliffe. co-convenor, Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland


Suzanne has put together a great Storify of the evening (including the post-pub cargo bike ride home…).

If you would like to join the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland then you can do so here

Join Us

Round table deep in discussion

The first Women’s Cycle Forum event. 

When Suzanne Forup and I started the Women’s Cycle Forum, we weren’t entirely sure what it was we were getting into. We just knew we were sick of all-male panels, and women being talked about rather than listened to when it came to cycling. A couple of years later, with some great events under our belt – and having met and connected with an amazing variety of cycling women – we still don’t entirely know what we’re getting into, but that’s okay because we know that there are all these fantastic women out there who are just as passionate about women cycling in Scotland as we are, and that between us we will work it out.

Last year, we met with a few of these fantastic women (and talked to many more online) and agreed that to secure the future of the Women’s Cycle Forum in Scotland we needed to become a membership organisation, open to anyone, which would give us the ability to do more and the mandate to speak for women on bikes in Scotland.

In discussions online and in person we’ve agreed that the primary purpose of the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland should be encouraging more women to cycle in Scotland, building a platform for women’s voices in cycling and developing members’ skills to help them take leadership roles in cycling, in all its forms. We will do this by organising events to bring members together, continuing to run the Women’s Cycle Forum Facebook group and developing this site, and collaborating with other like-minded organisations, particularly our sister organisation in England, WE Cycle.

On Tuesday, we will meet and adopt the constitution and then on Saturday 11th we will formally launch – with two great inspirational women speakers, cycle style blogger Jools Walker (aka Lady Velo) and endurance cyclist Lee Craigie of the Adventure Syndicate, who together illustrate the huge variety encompassed by the phrase ‘woman cyclist’. Thanks to the Women’s Fund for Scotland, this will be a free event – and will be a chance to sign up as a member, if you want to, and get in on the ground floor of something that – however or whatever it turns out to be – will above all be fabulous.

Join us!