In April 2021, Life Cycle UK began a new partnership project with Bristol Muslim Cultural Society and Baggator. Its aim is to support Cycling Sisters, a grassroots community cycling project based in Easton. Cycling Sisters had been running regular cycling sessions for women, particularly those who face cultural or religious barriers to cycling in Bristol. The response has been overwhelming, and they became over-subscribed.
With support from Life Cycle UK, they have set up extra sessions on Thursdays for beginners to learn to ride, develop their confidence on two wheels and progress to other cycling activities. Cycle Sisters instructor, Seila is feeling really enthusiastic about the progression of the project:
“Working with and teaching women from such diverse backgrounds really is a joy and we are all learning so much from the experience”.
Besides teaching the women their first steps in cycling, the sessions also provide a unique space for participants, many of whom are from the Muslim community, to meet, connect and gain mutual support from the group. Seila says:
“We are finding more and more that through this unique setting, we are also providing a support network for the women. We offer a regular activity that they have incorporated into their weekly routine where they can come and have fun, enjoy some company and feel part of a cycling community they feel comfortable in. This is great for those women who have come to us having previously had negative or traumatic experiences. We are seeing them really flourish and keen to get involved with the groups.”
On Life Cycle’s part, by working closely with and listening to Cycling Sisters, we are learning so much about the particular barriers faced by Muslim women who wish to cycle. We have also seen that with the support of this friendly community of women, people who never thought they would ride a bike are getting so much enjoyment out of cycling.
As these sessions gain momentum, Cycling Sisters plan to train a team of volunteers to lead the groups and develop the activities. We also hope to support the group to secure future funding to sustain this project going forward. We are delighted to work with Cycling Sisters as part of our commitment to strengthening the cycling sector – and supporting grassroots community cycling projects to flourish.
This partnership is generously funded by the John James Bristol Foundation.