Students in Leeds are leading the way for women cycling by bucking the trend of male-dominated cycle hire schemes. This year the Velocampus Leeds bike hire scheme at the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University has seen 342 bikes hired, with 54 percent hired out to female students.
The scheme is part of the UTravelActive project which is run by the Leeds Universities in partnership with UK Sustrans and is now seeing more women than men taking the opportunity to cycle as an everyday way to get around the city.
Other university bike loan schemes around the country, such as those in Nottingham and Durham University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton, are still seeing the majority of bikes hired by male students. The trend for cycle hire to be male dominated is also present in city wide schemes like the ‘Boris bike’ scheme in London where only a quarter of the scheme’s 92,000 registered users are women, according to the first City Hall figures.
Lisa Brannan, Sustrans’ Project Manager in Leeds said:
“It’s brilliant to see that more and more women want to get cycling around Leeds. We know safety is a big factor is putting women off cycling and that’s why in Leeds we are trying to do more to encourage women onto bikes. We support the bike hire from the campus bike hub to overcome these concerns, with bike maintenance, and cycle skills sessions. This helps women feel comfortable and confident on a bike so that they see it as an obvious way to get around – and it seems to be working.”
Liz Watson, a University of Leeds student said:
“I hired a bike in my first year and it got me started cycling regularly in Leeds. It’s a great scheme which gave me confidence to cycle and I now have my own bike.”