Women across the Tees Valley are invited to get cycling this summer as part of a new campaign from local transport project Let's Go Tees Valley.
The two-month campaign, entitled ‘Let's Go Ladies', starts in July and aims to get more women to try travelling by bike, instead of by car, for some of their local journeys. It will offer free training, bike rides, maps and other practical advice to make cycling easier and more fun to do.
"Many adults, particularly women, lack confidence when it comes to riding their bike and this is something that we want to change." says Erica Malkin, Let's Go Tees Valley marketing and communications officer.
"We want to take the mystery out of cycling, debunk myths and boost confidence so that more Tees Valley women see riding a bicycle for what it is: an easy, fun and healthy means of local transport."
One of the faces of the campaign is Philippa Rayner, 43, who works in IT in Darlington, specialising in digital transformation. Following a marriage break-up in 2016, the busy mum of one bought a bicycle with the aim of getting out more in the fresh air and kick-started a transformational journey.
"I hadn't cycled in years. I was a little bit overweight and a bit lost." says Philippa who now regularly uses her bike to travel the 6.5 miles in to work and back, as well as going for longer rides at the weekend.
"The biggest thing for me has been the benefits in terms of my mental health and wellbeing. I don't know where I would be if I hadn't have done it. I have used riding my bike as a springboard to improve my health - both mental and physical.
"I'd love to see more women cycling. The Tees Valley is brilliant for cycle paths." says Philippa of the 707 kilometres of dedicated cycle routes in Tees Valley.
"When you're driving you don't see your town in the same way. On a bike you can really discover this town and there's a lot to see. Whether you do it on your own like I did, with a friend or a partner, I really recommend you try it."
As part of the campaign, women are encouraged to contact their local active travel hub to get hold of cycling maps and sign-up for the free guided rides and confidence booster sessions, as well as the basic bike maintenance courses, that are on offer from the active travel hub in their local authority.
Supporting the initiative, Cllr Heather Scott, Tees Valley Combined Authority's Cabinet Lead on Transport said: "There are lots of reasons for women to get cycling, from health benefits to helping the environment. What better time to take it up than summer, and with lots of support thanks to this fantastic scheme.
"The Combined Authority has already invested £11.5million into walking and cycling schemes and improvements across the region, making it better than ever for cyclists."
To find out more about Let's Go Ladies and the Tees Valley active travel hubs visit the Let's Go Tees Valley website.
Pictured: Margaret Price (from Middlesbrough) who recently started cycling to work to avoid the Marton Crawl