This week’s Roll Model is Jools, aka “LadyVelo,” who blogs about her adventures on two wheels in East London at Vélo-City-Girl. Jools sets the bar pretty high when it comes to cycling in style—and she’s only been at it two years! Read on for a glimpse of the London cycling life.
Describe your bicycling style in three words.
Stylish, leisurely, fun!
How long have you been riding a bike?
I’ve been riding my Pashley for just over two years (two years and two months to be exact!)
Describe where you live and cycle.
I live in Newham in East London, which is now famous for hosting the 2012 Olympic Games! As I cycle to work (also in East London) I do ride around the area a lot. Improvements are being made around here for cyclists, but there is still a lot of work to be done on the cycling infrastructure around here. When I’m out with The Boy on our bikes, we often cycle across London for our Coffee & Cake Saturday rides, which is ace! Getting around London by bike is the best way to really see and appreciate the City!
How does bicycling fit into and/or shape your life?
Bicycling has had a huge effect on my life: It’s been a fantastic way to meet new and likeminded people who enjoy the freedom of cycling… and who also enjoy mixing fashion with two wheels! My levels of fitness have also improved since getting my Pashley and starting to ride again… it’s been amazing.
In your experience, does the general bicycling world—shops, outreach, group rides, etc.—feel welcoming for you as a woman?
In my honest opinion, I find that the smaller / independent bike shops are always more welcoming to women riders. Some of the larger chain bicycle shops seem to be heavily geared towards men, which is a pity as there is a huge female cycling demographic out there. When it comes to group rides, women are being catered for with rides organised by the likes of Breeze Network, who are reaching out to female cyclists wanting to get back on the saddle—encouragement is key.
What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?
I really hope to see the day when there isn’t a “Gander Gap” in cycling when it comes to media attention / getting more women cycling….
Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?
I do feel optimistic about the future of cycling in London. Although it may feel like a tough battle at the moment, so many people / organisations / bloggers and such are campaigning for improvements here . . . voices will be heard and changes will be made.
Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?
Go for it! Do some research and look into getting a bike suited to your needs, and go at your own pace. Between me taking up cycling again in March 2010, there was a 10-year gap—it’s NEVER too late to start riding! It’s also very likely that there will be women-only cycle groups in your area—check them out and go on group rides or rides with friends to build up your confidence if needed…
Be safe, be happy & enjoy being on your bike! x