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!


Official Women’s Cycle Forum Launch

img_7951Join us for the launch of the Women’s Cycle Forum, Scotland – a new membership organisation to celebrate and promote women’s cycling and to encourage women to take a leading role in cycling in all its forms. Since 2014, the Women’s Cycle Forum has arranged occasional promotional and networking events in Scotland, and run a lively and supportive online community for women who cycle in Scotland and beyond. Now we’re taking the next step and becoming an organisation that will encourage women to cycle, and make make sure women’s voices are heard in the world of cycling.

Supported by Cycling UK Scotland, and funded by the Women’s Fund for Scotland, the launch will be an inspirational celebration of the diversity of women in cycling. To kickstart this exciting, new phase the Forum founders, Suzanne Forup and Sally Hinchcliffe, have invited Jools Walker to launch the organisation in great style!

Jools Walker is an East London blogger aka Velo-City Girl. In between regular blogging, Jools presents on ITV4’s The Cycle Show and can often be found on TV sofas discussing and debating bike culture. Her blogs have a keen focus on styling and cycle chic culture, as well as iconic event reportage. With a foot in blogging and media already – Jools’s all-round reach classes her as a highly influential woman in the cycling world. Trendy, active and current, Jools is one to watch!

Come along to hear Jools, meet the group of women spearheading the organisation and find out how you can join! – Book now, it’s free.

Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland – the paperwork before the party..

Yay! The Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland will be launching on 11 June at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling so get the date in your diary and look out for the booking information coming soon!

However, before we hit the champagne cocktails and get on with smashing the patriarchy we need to adopt a constitution, which will be our governing document as a membership organisation.

It sounds a bit dry, but a constitution will set out our core values and activities for the next few years, so getting it right is crucial. Suzanne and Sally would like to involve everyone in developing it. Specifically we want your views on our objects, powers, membership, money and the committee composition. Some of these were developed from the discussions at our last meeting in February. All thoughts are welcome so don’t hold back!

We have used SCVOs unincorporated constitution template as the guide for the document – if you would like the full draft constitution please let us know

Over to you – here are the questions we need to settle:

Name – Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland

We’ve had some discussions on this topic, and for practical purposes suggest we use ‘Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland’ to show that most of physical activities will be in Scotland, although we have global connections. We are working collaboratively with our sisters in England, ‘WE Cycle UK’  launching in May, as they recognise our distinctive landscape in Scotland and the need for separate but coordinated activities.

Objects – these are the objectives or aims of the organisation

a) To promote equality and diversity by providing a platform for women’s voices to be heard in cycling in Scotland

b) To provide a safe online and offline space for women to inspire others, share their ideas and reflect on their experiences

c) To develop the skills of women in cycling in Scotland as organisers, leaders, speakers or inspiring others

d) To celebrate the role of women in cycling, in Scotland and elsewhere

e) To encourage women to try cycling, including providing opportunities or information that helps women to support others to cycle

f) What else? Suggestions please!

Powers – these are what we suggest our main activities should be (the full list is very long and follows the template guidance)

i) Coordinate events and activities to bring together Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland members

ii) Maintain, moderate and create content for the Women’s Cycle Forum Facebook page and associated online accounts

iii) Speak on behalf of the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland

iv) What else? Suggestions please!

Membership – who should be allowed into membership? Some suggestions:

  • Anyone who supports the objects of the organisation
  • Women* who support the objects of the organisation
  • Women and people that identify as gender variant who support the objects of the organisation
  • Women* can be full members, but men can only seek ‘associate membership’
  • What else? Suggestions please!

*including anyone that identifies as a woman

Money – some suggestions:

  • Membership is free – but an annual donation is suggested (the sum of £5 has been mooted), but not an obligation
  • Membership depends on income / professional standing
  • Membership is free but donations are welcome

 Committee – would you like to get involved? Get in touch!

Please let us know your thoughts on these issues, either on the Facebook site or by email to Suzanne.forup@cyclinguk.org

We’ll be collating all the ideas and comments together in a final draft for consultation in mid-May so that we can have an adoption meeting ahead of the launch in June.

Discussing the future of the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland

First – thanks to everyone who came out on Tuesday (despite confusion over both the date AND the location) to share ideas about where we should be taking the WCF in Scotland.

There wasn’t an overall consensus about what the WCF should be for but there were multiple overlapping (and not mutually exclusive) suggestions:

  • a space where women who are involved in cycling can get away from the more male-dominated environment for support/information/inspiration
  • encouraging women in cycling to take more of a leadership role (overcoming their reluctance to put themselves forward despite being well qualified)
  • an outward-facing encouraging role, normalising cycling among women, especially those who don’t already cycle
  • continuing to run events
  • overcoming the dearth of decent bike/kit/clothing options for women, perhaps through combining our buying power in some sort of a co-op or social marketing role (if the conversations at the end were anything to go by, stylish but effective waterproofs would be first on our list!)
  • providing a list of women qualified to speak at events (and maybe even provide training encouragement for those who want to) so that the ‘Rachel Aldred was busy’ excuse won’t wash next time there’s an all-male panel.
  • being able to speak for ‘women cyclists’ in all their wonderful variety.
  • exchanging views between women cyclists of different kinds as we all bring our own perspectives (and sometimes have multiple perspectives ourselves).

The Facebook group provides some of these roles, but not everyone is on or wants to be on Facebook. This website needs a major overhaul as it was started for one purpose and hasn’t really be properly redone since.

On governance, in order to be able to claim to speak for others, we really need members and a way of canvassing their opinions. In order to be able to accept donations or get funding we need at a minimum to be a constituted body (we can upgrade that to something more formal later). One option is the Spokes funding model, whereby there is no formal fee to join, but donations are encouraged. This is relatively  easy to administer.

So the final consensus seemed to be that we should investigate becoming a membership body, at least find out whether people would be interested in joining such a thing, and that we should continue to hold events, both with speakers and more informal socials.

At that point, the desire to eat overcame the gathering and we ended there.

Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland?

The first UK Women’s Cycle Forum in 2014 was a positive response to the frustration that we felt about the exclusion of women’s voices and experience from mainstream cycling events. Whilst sitting through yet another #allmalepanel experience we decided to take action and give other women the opportunity to be inspired, heard and share their experiences. What came out of that was a dynamic network of women across Scotland, frustrated by the inability of policy makers to understand why women don’t travel actively and ready to campaign to change that. We are now a worldwide network, increasing in size every week, through the Facebook page.

We have always wanted to move on from the tired discussions about ‘why women don’t cycle’ and into a new narrative about how women are contributing to political and policy development, community projects, road engineering schemes, campaigning and new technology. We’d like to provide a platform for women to speak out from, challenging decision makers and showcasing the work (and the women) that we feel are ignored.

We’d also like to build on what we’ve started at the events: enabling women involved in cycling (as cyclists, campaigners, professionals, or as part of a wider interest in health, policy and the world we live in) to meet each other, share ideas, and support and encourage each other – in real life as well as online.

To realise our ambitions, Sally and Suzanne feel it’s time to organise the Forum more formally, possibly to a membership organisation, to allow space for the Forum to grow and develop further. We need YOU to enable the Forum to flourish!

We’re having an initial meeting at 6pm on Tuesday 2nd February at Clerk’s Bar in Edinburgh (note new venue!) 74 – 78 South Clerk Street, EH8 9PT Edinburgh – Details also on Facebook


Come along!

Walk, Cycle, Vote with the Women’s Cycle Forum

We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote event – 11th November at the City Chambers, Edinburgh 20:00-21:30 reserve your free place

We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote

We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote is an umbrella campaign to put active travel on the agenda at the 2016 Holyrood election

With women leading 3 out of the 5 major parties in Scotland – including our First Minister – we thought we’d head for the centres of power for our next Women’s Cycle Forum event. As part of the We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote umbrella campaign, we’re inviting female politicians from all parties for an informal event to share ideas with voters about not just cycling but walking too, and the whole wider agenda that goes with it: what sort of places do we want to live, work, play and raise our families in?

Join Edinburgh Transport Convenor Lesley Hinds, MSPs Joan McAlpine and Alison Johnstone, and councillors Joanna Mowat and Maureen Childs for an evening of discussion about the future of our streets.

We tried hard to come up with any other way of describing the format of the evening than ‘speed dating’ – if only not to attract the weirdos – but it’s the easiest shorthand for what we have in mind: a series of brief conversations across parties and political levels where you can pitch what you would like to see change, and the politicians can pitch back to you what they would do to achieve it.

Joan McAlpine and Aileen McLeod

Meeting with Joan McAlpine and Aileen McLeod at the SNP conference in Aberdeen

In line with our ‘women led’ but not ‘women only’ philosophy, we’ll be inviting only female politicians to take part but the event is open to everyone to attend. We hope that everyone will have a chance to talk to everyone in a series of brief round tables. We’ll be holding it after the reception for the Cycling Scotland conference, but you don’t have to be a delegate to take part. And it will be free, although spaces are limited so please do book your place.

Meeting with Alison Johnstone at the Green Party conference in Glasgow

Meeting with Alison Johnstone at the Green Party conference in Glasgow

The clock has started…

Last year’s inaugural Women’s Cycle Forum was a great evening, but we realised too late we didn’t do enough to capture the energy that had been generated in the room and harness it to actual change. So this year we gave the event the theme ‘Build a Better World’ and, as well as having our keynote speakers inspire and educate us on how they have done just that, we wanted to send everyone (ourselves included) away with a bit of a challenge. We thought about ‘pledge cards’ but that seemed a little cheesy for a British audience so I went off for a long bike ride and came up with an idea that was much, much cheesier …

Thus it was that last night, at the end of the 2015 Women’s Cycle Forum, we announced our Build a Better World Bingo challenge (#BaBWBingo)

Build a better world challenge card - click for printable version

Build a Better World Bingo challenge – click for printable version

The idea is simple. Just complete any row, column or diagonal on our Bingo Challenge card – the first one to do so wins.

If that’s too easy, then play the wild card:

ditch job and travel the world

The wild card: “ditch job and travel the world”

Cheesy or not, we hope that people won’t be able to resist a challenge and will have a go. Let social media be filled with our hashtag and the sights and sounds of women (and men too) going out and changing the world, one action at a time.

Ladies, the clock is ticking … what are you waiting for?

Panellists announced for 2015

We’ve finally managed to finalise our speaker and panellist list for the next Women’s Cycle Forum on June 13th – and it should be a great evening! As well as keynote speakers from Playing Out and No More Page Three – two great campaigns that have achieved wonderful things from small beginnings – we have a line up of inspiring women from the cycling world to guide our round table discussions and take part in the final panel.

Please book your tickets now to join:

  • Brenda Mitchell, CycleLaw Scotland & Road Share Campaign
  • Abi Wingate, long-distance cycle tourist and cycling development officer
  • Lizzie Reather, cycle campaigner
  • Briana Pegado, president of the Edinburgh University Student Union
  • Katja Leyendecker, Northumbria University and New Cycling
  • Claire Connachan, Belles on Bikes
  • Janet Brereton, inclusive cycling