Saturday 21 February 2004
Women cyclists - and some men too were at Riva (St Kilda Marina) this morning to launch Revolutions for Women - an initiative to encourage female participation in cycling
Almost 100 cyclists were in attendance to have a stretch of their legs and then a leisurely breakfast to mark the launch of this initiative.
The organisation, by Merryn Bellamy and her team from Sport and Recreation Victoria was excellent. Project supporters, Bicycling Victoria provided marshals for the group rides and the speakers were inspirational. The Mayor of Port Phillip, Liz Johnstone acted as 'MC' for the various speakers.
The Victorian Government's Minister for Sport, Justin Madden joined in with the cycle ride and then gave official backing to the project, funded by his department. Deakin University's School of Health will be running the project, led by Jane Garrard. Jane is obviously very excited about getting this project off the ground and will doubtless be an enthusiastic force behind it for the 3 year duration.
Kate Mactier told her story - one of competition and racing - where her first race ended in hospital with a broken collarbone, due to her own overenthusiastic sprint...... She recovered quickly and was not put off - racing at international level on the track, Kate achieved a silver medal in the World Championships last year and hopes to improve upon that this year in both the Worlds (to be held in Melbourne in May) and the Olympics in August.
Margaret Andrews' story was different, but none the less remarkable. Discovering a few years ago that she had a congenital hip defect, she gave up tennis and netball and took up cycling. Her family behind her, she has gone on to ride (Bicycle Victoria's) Around the Bay in a Day and the stage of the Tour Down Under - the "Be Active Ride". Her efforts have left her mostly pain free and having delayed the need for a hip replacement.
Finally, Nicola Wells reflected upon the life of an international cycling travel writer and the joy of cycling in other countries. However, she is strongly of the opinion that Melbourne is a great place to cycle - having returned home to the north of the city a couple of years ago, she has a car-free lifestyle and gains great joy from travelling around on her bike. Nicola is active in helping novices of all ages to learn to ride a bike and to get a taste of the joys it can bring.
The Revolutions for Women project has already brought together all kinds of women cyclists - see above! Competitive, social, tourists, novices and experienced riders. Over the next three years, the project will work with supporters and partners to evaluate existing initiatives, to look for "behavioural change" (that is - women taking up cycling and sticking with it) and to understand what encourages them do it and (perhaps more importantly) what prevents them from participating. All sorts of different information sources will be used - from analysis of participant profiles in social events / rides by gender and traffic counts of Beach Road's users by gender, to investigating case studies of promotional initiatives and analysis of various surveys. Time available and motivation to ride are important aspects of participation, so too is safety - these factors will be considered in the project.
Project supporters are : Cycling Promotion Fund, Bicycle Victoria, CycleSport Victoria and the Victorian Local Government Association. The launch was supported by the organising committee for the Geelong UCI Women’s Road Cycling World Cup, which takes place on 29th February 2004.
Thanks to everyone involved in organising the breakfast. Updates on the project will be covered on this site as they are received.
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