Women In Cycling – Sally Hinchcliffe

Introduce yourself (and your bikes…)

My name is Sally Hinchcliffe, I live in rural Dumfries and Galloway – you can find out a bit more here https://cityexile.wordpress.com/

I have two bikes – an old steel framed tourer which I am currently kitting out, Mrs Armitage-style, with every accessory known to woman, and a Brompton so I am never without a bike. Now that I live on the side of a hill I am also e-bike curious.

What is your connection to the world of cycling?

I am a serial cycle campaigner – I helped found the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain (http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/) in 2010 and now compile its weekly bike blog round up, then co-founded Cycling Dumfries (https://cyclingdumfries.wordpress.com/), to campaign for better cycling conditions in the area, helped start (and continue to organise) Pedal on Parliament (http://pedalonparliament.org/), and with Suzanne Forup I co-organise We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote (http://walkcyclevote.scot/) and also the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland (https://womenscycleforum.wordpress.com/).

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

I have always ridden a bike as a means of transport, and in fact didn’t learn to drive until I was almost 30, so I am more comfortable cycling than driving a car. However it wasn’t until I moved out of London to rural Scotland and realised that if I was going to get around independently I was either going to have to drive more or cycle, that the bike became my main mode of transport for most trips. I started cycling initially because of the environment, but also because I enjoy it – it gives me headspace, it keeps me fit, and allows me to eat cake (almost) as much as I want.

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

Probably organising Pedal on Parliament – standing at the Meadows at the start of the first POP and realising what a huge turnout we had was both exhilarating and humbling. Since then, I think we’ve been part of a sea change in how the Scottish Government both invests in and thinks about cycling, although of course we’ve a long long way to go.

What’s your biggest frustration?

That cycling is still seen as something for a tiny minority of vocal people, rather than a tool that could help transform Scotland for the better. It feels like we have to keep the pressure on all the time, otherwise politicians forget all about it.

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

Simply, a Dutch-style network of cycle routes in every town and city in Scotland.

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

Typical would be into town and back (about 8 miles) mostly on quiet rural roads – usually in the rain …

The rides I dream about involve cycling companions to chat to, warm sunshine, no traffic to worry about, someone else navigating and plentiful stops for coffee and cake.

One of the purposes of the Women’s Cycle Forum is to promote women who are in cycling and make them more visible – and particularly to see the end of the dreaded all-male panel. Would you be interested in speaking more on panels or at conferences and if so what about?

I have done some presentations (for example at the 20s Plenty Conference in Edinburgh) and am happy to do more. My main expertise is in campaign issues, and doing the blog round up every week gives me a pretty good overview of what’s going on in the English speaking cycle campaigning world.

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

Suzanne Forup (of Cycling UK), Daisy Narayanan (of Sustrans) and Karen Furey – all professional women working at a high level in cycling in Scotland yet who never seem to get the profile they deserve.