Responding to comments by Councillor Deirdre Alden that cycling is a “discriminatory form of transport”, Sustrans Regional Director for the West Midlands, Yvonne Gilligan, said: “Contrary to the comments made this week, the great thing about cycling is that it’s accessible for everyone, regardless of age, gender or background.
Councillor Alden made comments about cycling that were reported in the Birmingham Post. She said:
“The vast majority of cyclists on our roads are young, white men,” and added that “most elderly people are not going to cycle, and it would be dangerous for them to start on our streets now.”
The councillor said disabled people did not benefit from cycling and that “women of any ethnic group who wish to wear modest clothing, and I count myself in that category, are not going to cycle. It is a discriminatory form of transport.”
Yvonne Gilligan disagreed with the Tory councillor:
“Cycling is an antidote to the discrimination that does exist in Birmingham’s transport system. With many people unable to afford the rising cost of car ownership and public transport, cycling can provide affordable access to jobs, health care and social services.
“The key to success is to bringing Birmingham’s infrastructure up to a standard where it safe and accessible enough for everyone aged 8 – 80 years old and the only way to achieve this is through dedicated and on-going investment in cycling.
“While many cyclists are young men, many of us are from backgrounds as diverse as the community we live in – it’s a great joy to see people of all shapes and sizes taking to the bike as we work towards a greener, healthier and safer city.”
Sustrans East Birmingham Active Families & Communities project works to enable more people to cycle their everyday journeys.
“Only 11% of participants are white males aged 14-75, the remainder are from a range of diverse backgrounds for whom cycling has become an integral part of their lives,” said Gilligan, extending an invitation to Councillor Alden to visit the project and meet the people involved.