We all know that the bike industry has been a very male dominated arena, and while that’s changing, progress remains slow. Projects and funding aimed at under-represented groups seek to redress the balance, and we’ve perhaps seen a greater number of projects aimed at getting people into bikes in the last couple of years. Back in 2016, Trek launched a similar course aimed at women in the USA and some corners of the internet took it rather badly.
Five years on Broken Spoke Bike Coop who is running this project thinks it’s the first time a course like this has run in the UK. After five years of progress (maybe?), let’s hope the social media comments are more reasoned. We live in hope.
Here’s the press release in full:
In a first for the cycling industry in the UK, Broken Spoke Bike Coop, a community cycle project in Oxford, has secured funding to train a group of women, trans* and non-binary folk up to Cytech 2 level, with ongoing mentoring and support.
These newly qualified mechanics will then form the backbone of Broken Spoke’s work with women, trans* and non-binary folk; supporting Beryl’s Night (their free monthly workshop sessions for women, trans* and non-binary folk), engaging in the other community programmes in our workshop, and running outreach with the wider community in Oxford.
Inês Rahtz, Community and Workshop Coordinator at Broken Spoke said “It’s quite a big moment for us, and the cycling industry as a whole. The cycling industry has a massive gender diversity (and diversity in general) problem, and we’re fed up. When most mechanics in bike shops are cis-men, it creates a kind of hierarchy of knowledge, where the men fix the bikes and teach others. Broken Spoke and Beryl’s night have been working hard to do away with the hierarchies and barriers that women and marginalised genders face, and this opportunity is a chance for us to deepen that work and get real about standing up to the problem, and home-grow the future of our industry.”
She continued, “We’ve been lucky to have support from close allies at Active Oxfordshire, to start funding this important piece of work. I hope this inspires other funders and projects to do something similar.”
Josh Lenthall, from Active Oxfordshire said “rates of cycling, active travel and those working in the cycling industry are significantly lower amongst females, trans* and non-binary people – a pattern that needs to be broken. Projects like this begin to close that gap and enable people to be included in an activity that provides such freedom and benefits to its participants. Active Oxfordshire is delighted to be supporting this work with funding from Oxfordshire County Council via the Emergency Active Travel fund.”
This follows on from the recent scheme Broken Spoke launched in August to offer heavily subsidised Cycle Training sessions (also funded by Active Oxfordshire) to people living in and around, as well as those impacted by, the Cowley Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (Church Cowley, Temple Cowley and Florence Park). This scheme offers the one-to-one 2 hour sessions, normally priced at £90, for just £9.
The scheme particularly encouraged women and people of colour who face higher barriers to cycling to sign up for these sessions. Participants could be completely new to cycling, returning to cycling after a long break, or experienced cyclists wanting to gain additional skills and confidence. Cost is often a barrier for people wanting to gain confidence cycling as adults (Oxfordshire County Council offers free cycle training for children in primary schools), so to encourage people to switch from driving to cycling for short journeys, confidence on the roads is key.
Kat, a volunteer who helps run Beryl’s nights said “Beryl’s Night, provides a space for us to explore and develop our mechanical skills in a low pressure and supportive environment, has been an amazing resource in Oxford. We’ve empowered each other to take the narrative of the bike industry being cis male dominated, and dismantle it. I’m really excited about this training pathway and the new mechanics that will join our community!”The training will be led by Lucy Greaves, a Bristol-based cycle mechanic working at Bristol Bike Project. Lucy is an inspiring advocate for getting more women, trans* and non-binary folk into workshops. If you’re interested in applying or know someone who is, you can find out more on Broken Spoke’s website here.