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Female journalist says she is ‘too scared’ to cycle patch’s streets

BronwenA regional daily journalist has admitted she is “too scared” to cycle the streets of her patch and says female cyclists have become a “target” for other road users.

Bronwen Weatherby, of the Bristol Post, says she has been put off by the idea of pedalling to work because of the “very real danger” posed on Bristol’s roads.

In a first-person piece for the Post’s companion website Bristol Live, Bronwen said she had witnessed cyclists being “nearly wiped out” by motorists.

She added she felt it was “women who get the roughest end of the deal”.

Bronwen, pictured, wrote: “It seems women are more likely than men to get taunted, cat-called, intimidated and even assaulted or put into dangerous situations. As a woman, that thought weighs heavily on my mind.

“As my friend and fellow reporter Grace Earl recalls having a young man blast an air horn in her face as she cycled home late from a meal with her boyfriend – it is clear women are deemed a target easier to mess with.

“Maybe it is, like Grace says, because women are less likely or able to turn around and confront their assailant for fear of further repercussions. But whatever the reason, this is a harsh reality that women who choose to take up cycling have to consider.

“Lastly, many women have spoken about not feeling like they fit the traditional idea of what a cyclist looks like which can be off-putting for them. And I tend to agree. Society has not fully accepted women cyclists and an unfortunate number of women still feel too self-conscious to pedal their way around town – not helped by the unwanted attention they will get from certain road users and pedestrians.”

However, Bronwen went on to say she was “determined” to try and conquer her fears.

She added: “But, the reality this, while more isn’t being done to minimise the dangers, harassment and humiliation women cyclists can face day-to-day, those who do choose to cycle will have to go on enduring it, while so many women will choose not to bother.”

On the reader reaction to her piece, Bronwen told HTFP: “Much of the response has been positive and I am happy overall that it has started a discussion among people in Bristol about why some people maybe feel too scared to cycle.

“There has also been a healthy dose of advice from cyclists, suggesting free classes and routes which will make me more confident on the road.

“The opinion piece came from – as I mentioned in the article – a discussion in the newsroom that I had with my colleagues and friends, both of which cycle. I thought I cannot be the only one who feels this way and maybe it would be helpful to put the viewpoint of someone who has been reluctant to start cycling because of perceived barriers.

“I’ve had a number of discussions online with people today which is great because I think it is more important than ever before that journalism is not viewed as a one-way street.”