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Breeze is an initiative from British Cycling that offers fun, free bike rides for women of all abilities. It was first launched in England in 2011, and since then, the programme has grown and is now available in both Scotland and Wales too and has delivered 80,000 Breeze rides, with over 380,000 women attending.

Why was Breeze first created?

In 2011, our insights showed that there were four times as many men cycling compared to women so we created Breeze to help close the gender gap.

We carried out extensive research with women as we wanted to find out what would motivate them to cycle, how they wanted to cycle and what the barriers were stopping them from cycling.

These do differ from person to person and communities, but we were able to spot several common themes for Breeze to tackle, including confidence, safety, social, emotional, fear of being judged, knowledge of where to ride and what to do if something went wrong.

Our research also strongly highlighted that not knowing what to expect and the fear of getting it wrong can cause a lack of confidence when getting ready to start something new.

To support these fears, Breeze knew it was important to provide all women who signed up to a ride with as much information as possible ahead of time, including things such: as what to bring, who their leader/s will be and what to expect on the day (which often includes a coffee and cake stop!).

Two women ride bikes on a trail by a body of water

A photo and contact details of their Breeze Champion is also provided, so not only will women recognise a friendly face when they turn up for the first time but there is also the opportunity to connect and ask any questions before the ride takes place.

The supportive and inclusive nature of women riding together with Breeze also alleviates very real barriers around safety while cycling e.g., not cycling alone and being part of a much larger and visible moving unit.

The social dynamic of groups also helps through women asking the same questions you have, forming friendships and emotional attachments where the bike becomes secondary to the activity and being part of something bigger. 

How important is the social element of Breeze?

There are nearly 2,000 Breeze Champions throughout Great Britain which forms a formidable, connected community. Although the places, people and weather may differ the commonality between all that encourages women to be active is the collective empathy, emotional intelligence, and desire for other women to experience the enjoyment they did when cycling. 

We have heard from our members that the social element is really important to them:

“I have really enjoyed every session I’ve attended. The group is always friendly, welcoming, and cheerful. I’ve cycled parts of the forest I wouldn’t have done alone, and I now want to get a bike of my own so I can cycle more frequently.”

“I don’t mind exercising alone sometimes but it is always more enjoyable with others. It’s great to meet people who share the same interests.”

"The leaders are great. They are friendly and supportive. I have gained in confidence since going on the rides and I’m now happy to explore the forest more when cycling alone."

A group of women in cycling kit hold their helmets in the air and smile for the camera

It’s also the favourite element for a lot of our Breeze Champions:

“My favourite thing about being a Breeze Champion is the joy that you get when helping people to achieve something which makes them feel great. I love to hear the chatter and laughter of the group when they relax and feel at ease.

"We are all at different levels and progress at different rates, but riding together with no pressure, no competition, just out with a gang of women, a destination in mind and the sense of achievement when we return. We always say it’s our Saturday morning therapy with a guaranteed feel great factor”

What would you say to other people thinking of starting their own group or changing something in their local areas?

Prioritise the people who will be delivering the initiative on the ground - the Breeze Champions really bring the programme to life and make it the special movement it is - you could say the Breeze Champions really are the custodians of Breeze!