Image above: Ruth when she won ‘best newcomer’ in the Hackney Wheelers Glamorous bike ride
Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling list celebrates ‘inspirational women who are encouraging others to experience the joy of cycling’. Ruth Mayorcas, who campaigns for safe cycling in Chiswick, has been picked as one of the 100 this year.
Every year the cyclists’ touring club highlight 100 exceptional women who promote cycling and encourage others to take part.
‘We celebrate inspirational women who are leading by example in this wonderful and life-enhancing activity. Women from all walks of life and every corner of the cycling world have been nominated, from mountain bikers and endurance cyclists to community group leaders, cycling school-run mums and industry entrepreneurs’.
Ruth campaigns relentlessly for safe cycling. She attends the London Assembly, conferences and council meetings, always advocating safe cycling, and in Chiswick championing Cycleway 9. She has taken part in demonstrations and protests (‘die-ins’) with the Stop Killing Cyclists campaign, alongside campaigning with London Cycling Campaign.
She also stood, unsuccessfully, for Labour in Chiswick in the last local council elections. She has attracted a lot of criticism locally from opponents of Cycleway 9, some of it personally abusive, but doesn’t let that put her off advocating for what she believes in.
Image above: Ruth Mayorcas
Learning about cycling in Amsterdam
She discovered an alternate view on cycling as a normal way of getting about a city while she was living in Amsterdam in the 1970s. It crystalised the idea that riding a bike can be normalised and made safe for all and motivated her to get involved in the Safe Routes to Schools campaign when she came back to London.
“I passed my Cycling Proficiency age 11 but was fairly hopeless and didn’t really cycle until (age 23) living in Amsterdam in 1976 where it was so easy to control the bike and felt safe – I imported a Dutch Dames Fiets and cycled to work as much as I could. I cycled with my son in a kiddie seat, then alongside but it was not until joining EFR cycle coaching I gained the confidence to cycle longer distances and big hills!!
“I absolutely love cycling, it is such a great way to get about and share my love with as many people as possible – especially women who may feel it is not for them or are put off by what to wear or with feeling unsafe.
“I have campaigned for Cycleway 9 in Chiswick for the last 25 years, thrilled we have it and encourage especially women to use it. I taught my son to ride, rarely used a car, and he has a love of cycling as do I”.
I always hope that being seen at the age I am using a bike for shopping, socialising and holidays, other women will feel empowered to do likewise
“I have a Dutch partner and we spend much of our time cycling in the Netherlands where it is just such a normal activity. I always hope that being seen at the age I am using a bike for shopping, socialising and holidays, other women will feel empowered to do likewise. I have become very proactive in raising awareness of how poor cycle infrastructure deters people, especially those with mobility issues.
“I am a key part of an online event called Ideas With Beers with Brian Deegan and Robert Davies where I bring the view of the older non-professional woman into focus”.
Image above: Ruth when she stood for election to LB Hounslow in 2018
“Irrepressible and charming”
Ruth was nominated by Simon Lambourn, who said:
“Ruth is an irrepressible, persuasive and knowledgeable champion of normal, everyday cycling for all. She does not aspire to be a ‘hard rider’ but espouses everyday cycling wearing normal clothes as a natural part of life. Time spent in the Netherlands has increased her conviction that riding a bike needs to be – and can be – normalised and made safe for all: she is charming, eloquent and forceful even when confronting ingrained car-centric opposition.
“She is extremely well known, well-informed, and well-connected in her local area of West London and London as a whole”.
She was also nominated by her son Jack, who said:
“I can think of no better role model for what cycling could, and should be for most people. Since I can remember, my mum has been a passionate advocate for cycling for all. Not seeing it as a sport, or as something you need to prepare for, but just as a healthy and practical mode of transport.
“Away from campaigning and advocacy, the sheer number of miles Ruth covers is impressive in and of itself. Averaging around 500 miles a month this year, people are often gobsmacked when I tell them the distances she has covered”.
Image above: Ruth Mayorcas on a country bike rike
Cycling now a mainstream activity
Ruth told The Chiswick Calendar:
“I am thrilled to have been nominated, then selected for this fantastic scheme which is about enabling women from all backgrounds to feel that cycling is for them. As it says in my biog I started cycling in NL and continued here and was amongst a huge cohort of other women cycling.
“In the 80s sadly this dropped off such that only the very determined and mostly male were seen on bikes. I have long been an advocate for bike use for all for shopping, the school run, to work and to socialise.
“Now we have Gear Change (a white paper from government regarding Active travel) and cycling is returning to a mainstream activity – I just love seeing so many children cycling with their parents and feel sure this will continue to grow”.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: TfL proposes changes to Cycleway 9
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