2nd Womens Joint Ride 2012


The 2nd Women’s Ride 2012

The 2nd Joint Women’s Ride took place on June 2nd   2012. Women and girls from Tower Hamlets Cycling Club joined with others from Tower Hamlets Wheelers and those who had heard of the ride on the Wheelers website or by word of mouth. The route was planned for the Isle of Dogs and Waterlink Way.

For many of the riders it was the first time they had cycled on the road; they managed very well, but their experience wasn’t helped by impatient drivers and a couple of insults.

We cycled across the Isle of Dogs, taking in some of the boats preparing for the Queens’ Jubilee Flotilla the following day.

Just before getting to Island Gardens we had our first puncture; a second puncture happened after we had crossed the foot tunnel under the Thames. Fortunately, there was plenty to look at on the Greenwich side whilst Caroline did an excellent job of fixing the bikes. The quote of the day was, “That’s amazing! I never knew what was inside a bicycle tyre before!”

The group then cycled on towards Ladywell Fields where we stopped to relax with a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake from a convenient cafe there. We then returned to Island Gardens and took the Thames River path home. We had covered 18 miles but it had been a very relaxing ride amongst good company.

Our next Joint Women’s Ride is planned for July 14th. Check out the Wheelers website at www.towerhamletswheelers.org.uk  nearer the time for more details.

How to Get Started


First things first – if you have any health concerns, please consult your GP before taking up cycling.

Choosing a bike

The three things to consider are:

  • where you’re going to ride your bike
  • your height
  • how much you have to spend

If you just want to go for short rides around town, then an old bike with a few gears is perfectly serviceable.  A hybrid would be more suitable for longer trips and commuting, while a mountain bike is better for cycling off-road.  Then there’s the speedy road bike for those who have a good level of cycling experience and want to burn some miles. 

It’s a good idea to visit a reputable bicycle shop and ask for advice on the right size of bike (they should measure you) and the model best suited to your needs.  If you have an old bike, they should be able to service it to check that it’s roadworthy.  

Finally, you will need to buy a lock if you intend to leave your bike in public places. 

The following bike shops are in Tower Hamlets:

Learning to ride a bike

If you’ve never ridden a bike before or just want to improve your confidence on the roads then it’s wise to take some lessons. 

Tower Hamlets Cycling Club

Based at Mile End Stadium, the club offers lessons on Saturdays between 10am-12pm to women and girls.  One to one training is also available.  You can borrow a club bike if you don’t have your own.  They are particularly keen to encourage people from ethnic minorities, senior citizens and those with disabilities.

Contact Janice Djelloul at towerhamletscyclingclub@yahoo.co.uk or on 07423069863 for further details.

Bikeworks East

Bikeworks East offer free Bikeability training for both adults and children.  Their address is 138-140 Cambridge Heath Road, London E1 5QJ. 


Accredited instructors are available through the CTC.  You can read more about cycle training on their website.

Once you’ve completed your training, there are plenty of traffic-free spaces within Tower Hamlets to practice riding your bike, such as Weavers Fields, Mile End Park and Victoria Park.

What to wear

  • High visibility clothing, such as a reflective vest, arm and leg bands.
  • A helmet is always advisable.  Again, it’s best to go to a bike shop for advice on fit and cost.
  • Comfortable clothing that fits close to the body, so that it won’t get caught in the wheels or pedals.
  • Sensible shoes that cover the whole foot.

Basic safety

  • So, you’ve completed your training and feel ready to take to the road.  Here are a few pointers towards basic safety:
  • Be seen and be heard.  Wear high visibility clothing, make sure your bicycle has a bell and always use lights when it’s dark.
  • Be alert to what’s going on around you.  Do not wear headphones or chat on your mobile …
  • Check your bike regularly to make sure that the tyres are inflated properly and brakes are working.
  • Plan your route.  There are free cycling maps available on the TFL website.
  • Always follow the Highway Code.
  • There are some useful tips on cycling safety and cycling near lorries on the TFL website.

The Benefits of a Bike


It’s January, it’s cold and the thought of cycling probably doesn’t appeal, but there are plenty of reasons why we should be jumping on our bicycles and heading out for a ride.

It’s cheap

No need to spend money on tube, bus or train fares.  Whether you’re commuting, visiting friends or just doing local errands, cycling is easy to fit into your daily routine and you will have a free, and sometimes, faster journey. 

Your body will thank you

The health and fitness benefits of cycling are endless.  It’s great for the heart, reduces cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.

You’re less likely to catch a cold too, as exercise helps build up the immune system.

You can burn about 650 calories an hour when out cycling, so the pounds will drop off if you’re trying to lose weight.

As you are supported by a bicycle, there is less strain on your joints and back unlike other endurance sports, such as running.

Looking good

Most muscles in the body are used during cycling, so over time they will become stronger and more toned.  In particular, the legs and bottom, and the upper body if you’re regularly riding up hills or off road.

Feeling great

Exercise raises your levels of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals, so you’ll be smiling in no time.  There’s also something very satisfying about the independence and freedom of riding a bike.  Just think, no more bad moods when you’re stuck in rush hour or stressed out because of signal failure on the tube.

Meeting new people and making friends

By joining a local cycling group you will meet like-minded people who live in your area.  There are lots of groups in London who organise supervised rides for cyclists of all abilities.  You can find some on the London Cycling Campaign website.  There’s also the Breeze network, who organise local, women-only rides.

Discover a new London and beyond

London is one of the most fascinating cities in the world and what better way to explore it than on two wheels.  You’ll discover new streets, shops, buildings, views and parks.  And, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, why not pop your bike on a train and travel out to local counties, such as Essex, Hertfordshire or Kent.  The countryside is beautiful and it’s hard to believe that you’re only a few miles out of London.

Background to the Blog

Local MP Rushanara Ali presenting one of the cyclists with a Bikeability certificate

A cyclist receives her Bikeability certificate from local MP Rushanara Ali

Welcome to the Tower Hamlets Women’s Cycling blog.   The blog is a source of information about cycling for local women, in particular addressing some of the issues that Asian women may face.  We will also be providing information on relevant events, workshops and organisations.

How it all started …

This blog has evolved from the Fieldgate Bike Project set up by Sarah Hammond in 2011.   The Fieldgate project worked with women and young people from the Fieldgate Mansions Estate and the local area to encourage them to ride a bicycle.  The project was funded by Community Cycling Fund for London.

Before the project began there were no Asian women cyclists on the Fieldgate Mansions Estate.  However, 19 women aged from 20-60 signed up for training, with 10 women progressing to receive a Bikeability Level 1 certificate. 

The project partnered with the Jagonari Women’s Centre in Whitechapel, who loaned the bicycles, and Bikeworks, a local community cycling initiative, who provided training.  Two Barclays bikes were also used during training as a way to introduce the Transport for London scheme, which has three stations in the area.

Both the physical and social benefits of cycling have been a particular focus for the project, as many women in the community experience isolation and loneliness combined with illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.

On 28th October 2011 the women were presented with their certificates by local MP Rushanara Ali, who said, “It is vital that women in Tower Hamlets have the opportunity to improve their health and get fit and the Fieldgate Bike Project is a great example of that.  It is great to see the pride and independence the women have gained from this valuable project.” 

For more information about the Fieldgate Bike Project, visit www.artspokes.com

Pedal Power



Woman riding a Raleigh bicycle



While waiting at my local doctor’s surgery, there at the bottom of a rather large notice board, was a leaflet for Fieldgate Women’s cycling. I took the number from it and called Sarah Hammond. The group was coming towards the end of its programme but luckily there were two more classes left. I attended them both which were excellent. Now I am getting more lessons at Bikeworks and can’t wait to get my own bike and use it as a daily means of transport and general exercise. Had I not plucked up the courage to attend and had there not been this free local cycling group for women, I would not be where I am now in terms of cycling. I sincerely hope that funding for this type of free cycling lessons for local women continues to be made available. I would also like to give a special thanks to Sarah Hammond for organising this.  Hasna