Program teaches women to cycle with confidence
It can be intimidating trying out a new activity or sport as an adult, but a program created by Vélo Québec is helping women discover the joys of cycling — both as a leisure activity and as a mode of transportation.
Created by women, for women, Toutes à vélo aims to take the fear out of learning to ride a bike and offers participants lessons in a safe environment.
Balancing, braking, and road safety are all part of the course geared to brand new riders, and those who wish to get more comfortable riding in an urban setting. Divided into two parts, riders start out slowly to get a feel for the wheels on the road.
In the I don’t know how to ride a bike part, riders learn how to stay steady on a bike with no pedals. In the I know how to pedal, but I don’t feel confident enough to go out on the street part, riders are taught to cycle on the road. Both levels are offered simultaneously so that participants can follow the group that best suits their skill level.
The free sessions take place in a closed environment such as a schoolyard, with two non-mandatory road activities for those comfortable with the challenge. A total of 11 hours of instruction are spread over one month, and bicycles and helmet loans are available for all. To make the sessions even more accessible, a free childcare drop-in centre is available for children 2 and over.
Getting women into the sport
The program is a recipient of a grant from the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and their Gender Equity in Recreational Sport Community Grant. The aim is to increase the participation and/or retention of girls and women in recreational sport. According to the Etat du vélo 2020 report prepared by Vélo Québec, 62 per cent of men cycle in Quebec, while the number drops to 47 per cent among women. The group also found that it is overwhelmingly women who reach adulthood without having had the chance to learn to ride a bike.
Cycling Program Back for 2023
Having just wrapped up its second successful year, the program encourages women to sign up now to be notified of the dates and locations for the 2023 edition. The program is also recruiting experienced cyclists and previous students to be program guides.
To learn more about the program, visit velo.qc.ca/en/programs-and-campaigns/toutes-a-velo/