British Cycling, the UK's governing body for cycling, has reported that female membership of the organisation has exceeded 20,000 for the first time in the organisation's history. The announcement was made as part of Women's Sport Week in the UK, a week-long celebration of all aspects of women's sport across the country.
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The growth can be attributed to a range of reasons; the popularity and success of cycling at the London 2012 Olympics (the current figure is 139% greater than 2012), the recent success at Rio 2016, and the work of the Breeze Champions initiative, which aims to get one million women riding regularly by 2020.
Within that 20,000 membership, 45 percent own a race licence which entitles them to ride in competitive events. While opportunities to race can still be fewer than for men, this situation is also improving and there have been several initiatives set up to support women who are interested in both getting started and developing their race craft. One such organisation is the Racing Chance Foundation, which provides training, support and financial assistance to promote amateur cycling for women.
52 percent of this total own a 'Ride' membership, designed for leisure and sportive riders, which provides liability insurance and gives discounts on bike insurance and at a major UK retailer.
While the number is certainly positive, and moving in the right direction, there is still quite a way to go before an even gender split is achieved; overall membership of British Cycling surpassed 100,000 in 2014, and has grown steadily since then. This suggests that the percentage of female memberships currently sits in the region of 20 percent.