"Bike Belles" call for safety on the roads
Posted Thursday 3 September 2009
As a penniless student, I cycled everywhere in any weather. On one occasion I remember battling the snowy blizzards of deepest January as I rushed to our weekly class, run by an English professor who had an uncanny resemblance to Sean Connery (none of the female students were ever late or absent).
As any cyclist worth their bicycle pump will know, snow is the very worst weather offender - you are left attempting to glimpse sight of the road ahead between avalanches of snowflakes that leave you drenched in the horror of near freezing water. Sounds like a pretty unpleasant experience doesn't it?
Yet it wasn't. I loved cycling. Aside from the wonderfully cheap transport, it gave me a natural boost to my day and helped fight the flab of a student diet. In fact, exercise is proven to reduce stress and feelings of depression and increase energy levels. Some studies have even found that it can have the same antidepressant effect as psychotherapy.
However, living in London I just don't cycle anywhere. At university I was lucky to live in a small town full of cycle lanes but the bigger cities are a very different story. To put it simply, I'm terrified! And I'm not alone. A poll of British women has found that concerns for their own safety is the most common reason why they do not cycle at all (79 per cent of women in Britain never ride a bike).
It is for this reason that Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, have launched the Motion for Women petition on their Bike Belles website, calling for the Government to that the issue of safer cycling more seriously. With cycling acknowledged as a great way to tackle not only mental distress but also traffic congestion, climate change and obesity, please help make cycling safer by signing the petition today.
Visit Mind's page on ecotherapy to find out more about our work on improving access to green exercise. And don't forget, Get Moving - a week of physical activity events aiming to combat stigma against mental health problems - launches on 3 October.
Mariam Kemple, Policy and Campaigns Officer
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