Transport for London appeal for women who have faced sexual harassment while cycling in capital

TfL’s target is to boost overall levels of cycling by a third in London by 203
TfL’s target is to boost overall levels of cycling by a third in London by 203

Women are being asked whether they have been subjected to sexual harassment when cycling in London.

Transport for London is conducting research into the issue, amid concerns that abuse and insults, especially from motorists, is discouraging women from travelling by bike.

TfL’s target is to boost overall levels of cycling by a third in London by 2030 – meaning an increase in the number of daily trips by bike from about 1.2m to 1.6m.

It aims to do this by increasing the diversity of cyclists, with cycle commuters – typically younger white men - less of a priority than before. Fewer than a third of cycle trips are by women, despite making up half the city’s population.

TfL commissioner Andy Lord said the research was part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s wider initiative to tackle violence against women and girls.

The cycling research will sit alongside a larger study into how women and girls perceive their safety on public transport, especially at night.

Mr Lord said: “We have also commissioned a smaller study to understand female cyclists’ personal experiences of sexual harassment.

“This research will be used to inform our ongoing approach and interventions for tackling violence against women and girls, and work towards improving their confidence to travel.”

The London Cycling Campaign said harassment of women cycling, including sexual harassment, was “surprisingly common” in the capital. It is due to publish the results of its own research in January.

LCC spokeswoman Clare Rogers told the Standard: “In a city where less than a third of cycle trips are by women, we are calling on the mayor to tackle the barriers that keep women from feeling safe to ride a bike.

“We hear far too many stories of women being harassed and intimidated while they cycle in London, verbally, physically and sometimes even sexually. Often this abuse is for no other reason than they are cycling on the road.

“Also, many women tell us they still don’t have the safe cycle routes they need to get from A to B, with too many routes being unsuitable after dark.”

Almost 2,000 people have signed a LCC petition calling for action from Mr Khan to address both physical and social safety for women while cycling.

The petition asks him to “think beyond the commute” to create safe cycling networks that can be used in equal numbers by men and women by the end of the decade.

The LCC petition said: “Being able to get around safely, cheaply and independently can be life-changing. On average, women have less free time, less disposable income, less access to motor vehicles and more caring responsibilities than men.

“For all of these reasons, and many more, it’s critical that all women have access to safe, affordable, and accessible transport that meets their needs.

“The bicycle has played a significant role in liberating women in the past, and cycling could be liberating for women in London today, offering us independence, health, and affordable, climate-safe transport.”