Women In Cycling – Alice Lyall

Introduce yourself (and your bikes…)


Alice Lyall. I have three and a bit bikes at the moment – a hefty drop-bar Surly tourer, a totally unnecessary “adventure bike” (basically a suspensionless 29” wheel mountain bike), an old Dawes with a twin top-tube/top-tube shifters and brakes that don’t work very well, and  the “bit”, a partly dismantled Cannondale tourer destined for sale or cannibalisation! I want a recumbent, but the flat is far too small…

What is your connection to the world of cycling?

Joining the WCFS committee? I’m not sure I feel/felt part of the world of cycling, which was why I signed up to WCFS in the first place – I have opinions, and I wanted a place to use them!

What got you into cycling? (or back into it?)

Like a lot of people I rode bikes without thinking about it as a kid, but by the time I went to university I had stopped cycling. As an underpaid archaeologist I still hadn’t learned to drive by the time I was almost 30 c. 2003, so I bought a cheap hybrid and started cycling to work across Belfast. Then I started touring – by riding the cheap hybrid from Seattle to San Francisco…

What would you say was your most significant achievement (so far!)?

Trans-Canada bike ride on my own with a tent last summer. I met a bear and didn’t get eaten. I think that’s an achievement!

What’s your biggest frustration?

Infrastructure, or rather the lack. And the related absence of any kind of real joined up thinking about the way cities/towns and transport systems are designed; every change seems to be done piecemeal and without any real vision of how things could be better – cycling has changed the way I look at our habitat and given me a way to see how it could be so much better (including for people who won’t ever get on a bike).

If you could wave a magic wand, what’s the one (cycling-related) thing you’d wish for?

Political will/understanding – at all levels – and public understanding of the issues. Infrastructure, transport planning and the necessary funding to do it will follow.

What’s your typical day/week on cycling? And what are the rides you dream about?

Commute by bike (commute is currently short but takes in many of Edinburgh’s finest potholes and unpleasant junctions!), run errands by bike, and ride for fun some weekends / summer evenings. Summer holidays are always touring. Still dreaming about more big trips – Vancouver to Inuvik, or the Trans-Labrador highway?

Who are the women in cycling you’d like to hear from next and why?

I’d like to hear from the women I know (and others in the same boat) who have wanted to cycle but didn’t (because of the fear of traffic/lack of infrastructure/social & financial barriers, etc); what I’d like (or hope) to hear is how they DO cycle now, because things are changing.

Follow Alice on Twitter (@alice_lyall).