The City of Stirling, Western Australia, has the right idea; with a little bit of practice and a lot of encouragement, they’re getting more women on two wheels. Women on Wheels is being run by Joanne Burgess, she has been the Travelsmart Officer at the City of Sterling since 2006, Joanne is on a mission to get more women on wheels, but not just women; their children as well.
Joanne wants to re-educate the community, teaching them how to ride a bike if they have never ridden, and if it’s been too long, helping the participants build up confidence to get back out there.
Originally the program started with the assistance of the Bicycle Transport Alliance and has since grown with council assistance. The womens programs are aptly named, Learn to Ride for women who have never ridden and Back on your Bike, for those who hadn’t ridden for years.
Joanne presented the program that she has been developing in conjunction with the City of Sterling at the Bike Futures Conference in Melbourne this October.
Since starting the program, Joanne has helped 75 women from 17 different cultural backgrounds to complete the program, and there is a waiting list of 45 for the next program.
The programs run twice yearly in spring and autumn. Perfect conditions, not too hot and not to cold- Other councils in Western Australia have been trying to implement the same program for their area’s but haven’t had the same response as City of Stirling.
At the conclusion of the Bike Futures conference in Melbourne I was able to speak with Joanne about the program, she is proud of the women who have already finished the program, 66% of the participants thus far have been women aged over 50.
Joanne is aware that she can take this program in many directions, there are plans for urban explorer rides and Mum ‘n Kids training. Plus she has already established bicycle maintenance training, real world rides, a bicycle library and a 12 week social ride course called ‘wheelie wonderful women’.
If you can’t ride a bike or haven’t ridden a bike in years and need some encouragement, check with your local council to find out if they have a program that will suit your needs and if they don’t; tell them about what Joanne Burgess and the City of Sterling is doing for their constitutes.
For more information about the program and how to become involved email firstname.lastname@example.org; or for more information go to the City of Sterling website www.stirling.wa.gov.au.