One of the long term projects is Her Cycling Connections aiming to empower more women riding more often. As safely as possible by training local ride leaders to deliver regular social rides. The volunteer program for women by women creates a safe environment building skills, confidence and safety for fun, fitness and transport.
Her Cycling Connections
To connect and empower women through cycling in a fun, social environment.
Her Cycling Connections started out as a bicycle riding group of 10 mothers at Hilltop Public school. Upon listening to the stories and gaining an understanding of the experiences of these women, we decided to apply for grant funding with Bicycle NSW and hence, Her Cycling Connections (HCC) was born. This program has been operating since 2017 for women of all riding abilities and we are excited to continue to grow and develop.
1-3 riders’ women
Modern day women are increasingly becoming disengaged within the community through;
Limited employment opportunities
These issues can lead to mental and physical health problems impacting both the family and community.
There is a need for a program that can help these women reconnect with themselves, family and the community; not for just short term, but in the long term. A program that empowers women by increasing their confidence and self worth whilst also increasing their fitness in a affordable way. A program that enables women to fit it in with family commitments without affecting their progress. A program that offers continual support to help these women who in turn will support and mentor other women within their own community to break the cycle.
Whilst many other programs offer support for these women, many only offer short term benefits and do not offer all three factors of vocational, mentoring and fitness in one affordable program.
Increase the number of women riding
Provide a safe supportive environment that empowers more women riding more often safely for fun leisure and transport
Train community ride leaders providing regular social rides.
Support workshops for women by women learning to ride and basic bike maintenance
Advocate for cycling connecting communities and cities
Creating opportunity for change, socially connecting women through cycling activities
There are a number of programs held within HCC, each catered towards participant riding levels. The programs are typically held over the school term, with additional programs scheduled over the school holidays. These programs usually operate in Holroyd Gardens, Holroyd. There are bicycles for hire for individuals who do not have a bicycle.
Overview of Programs
1. Her Lessons
Her Lessons is a program specifically for women beginning to ride and for women who are getting back into riding. The program aims to teach participants the fundamentals of bicycle riding, such as a helmet and bicycle check, and encourage individuals to develop their core riding skills, such as balance, pedalling, signalling, hazard perception and manoeuvring.
2. Her Rides
Her Rides is a program developed for riders who wish to further develop their riding ability and participate in group riding. The main objective of this program is to provide a supportive environment for riders to engage in social exercise, with hopes that participants will utilise their riding capabilities to transition into active transport when commuting. The program aims to develop participant road confidence and hazard avoidance. Experienced riders may have the opportunity to receive training to become a ride leader.
3. Her Say
Her Say is a program created to empower women to be active members of the community. HCC has formed a sub-Bicycle User Group (BUG) under the Camwest BUG to facilitate ride leaders in raising awareness of road, path, and general environmental hazards. Furthermore, it was created to give women riders a greater voice and advocate for improvements within their local community.
4. Her Workshops
Her Workshops is a program that consists of two functions: bicycle maintenance and ride leader training.
a. Bicycle maintenance - Created to teach riders the fundamentals of bicycle maintenance. Participants will be able to learn the mechanisms of a bicycle and the basic skills of part changes, such as changing a tyre, brakes, and realigning chains. The program is typically held over the school break.
b. Ride Leader Training – Experienced and confident riders may have the opportunity to become a ride leader. A ride leader is an important position, where the individual is placed in charge of a social group ride. Individuals who are chosen to be ride leaders must be able to frequently adapt to different situations and employ skills such as group monitoring, group maintenance, and broad environment perception.
The outcomes that Her Cycling Connections (HCC) aims to achieve will be outlined below.
Participants will obtain the necessary skills to ride a bicycle independently and safely within the local community. As a result, increased employment opportunities, as well as improved mobility options, will arise.
Participants will experience improvements in physical activity with continued participation within the program.
A self-sufficient program that provides women with a safe, supportive, riding community and facilitates individual growth.
Empower individuals to become active citizens of the community through volunteering and participation.
Foster a supportive network of like-minded riders that thrives on social inclusion by creating conditions of equal opportunities for women to participate in society, connect with the local community and have a greater voice.
Achieving the aforementioned outcomes will impact upon the individual and local community. These impacts will be explored below.
Increased physical activity could induce a broader range of advantages, relating to the benefits on physical health (Kandola & Stubbs, 2020). These benefits could include improvements to cardiovascular health and improved chronic health symptoms. Improvements to individual participant physical health could also reduce the burden of disease on the health system. Furthermore, a decrease in exercise avoidance could lead to greater self-efficacy and hence greater control over one's health (Otto & Smits, 2011).
Creating a supportive environment and social network for participants to engage with other individuals in the community can prevent or minimise the risk of social isolation and hence, improve psychological wellbeing (Levinson et al., 2013).
Increased social inclusion of participants could lead to a more active community and consequently, create more liveable communities. Changes such as the creation of sustainable public places for community interaction, improved infrastructure, and improved public services and facilities can be implemented through active community participation. In addition, a transition to an active mode of transport (i.e. cycling) will result in reduced air and noise pollution, traffic congestion, parking issues, and road maintenance costs.
6. Her Cycling Connections Program
Each new participants will be assessed by qualified instructors and placed in the module suitable for their current riding level. Progress will be measured via an online registration and reporting system where participants will fill in two forms. Registration and exit forms will be used for each module where questions about the participants riding experience and general health will be included. Through the answers on these forms the effectiveness of the program can be constantly monitored.
Each module will be conducted over a school term of approx 9-10 weeks with each module expected to take one school term to complete. Participants will be accessed by qualified instructors before going to the next level. The drop in program is flexible enabling new riders to start at anytime and to participate at their level with no time limit provided for each module. Participants will also be offered catch up lessons at the Parramatta base of Addventageous on Friday mornings.
6.1 Her Lessons
Beginner - For the complete beginner - Basic balance, control and handling of the bike. Pedaling through to full revolutions of the pedals. Basic safety check of the bike (ABC)
Rusty - Introducing important riding skills - For those who can ride a bike or need to
brush up on their skills - Braking, turning, riding one handed (to enable road signaling)
Skilled- For participants who are confident and skilled in riding their bike. Short led Discovery Rides to teach participants laws in regards to cyclists, road riding skills, route mapping skills (see table 1) and basic bike maintenance.
Go Further - Ride Leader Training - Workshops for participants who are skilled and confident riders with the plan on making them mentors for the newer participants. Workshops will include basic maintenance, group riding management, planning group rides, advanced mapping skills, risk assessments, mental first aid, first aid, people management, digital inclusion. Participants will also take part in the Bicycle NSW Ride Leaders Course. It is anticipated that the more skilled leaders may go into become employed as Ride Leaders for Addventageous led rides and learn to ride instructors.
Table 1 - Her Cycling Connections cycling routes
Her first ride
Beginner led ride around the gardens and one of the back streets.
Some onroad backstreets
25 km Approx
All off road on shared paths - Need to remap as there are some deviations on this route
16 km Approx
All off road on shared paths - Need to remap as we were unable to complete route due to flooding from Duck River. This will be need to be a planning factor in all of these rides.
Mainly shared path - One backstreet section which is a good introduction to riding on the road.
All off road ride on shared path to coffee shop in Guildford and back.
Gear Up Girl