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Women Who Cycle: Interview with Emma Downey

Posted on Jul 16, 2019
Women Who Cycle: Interview with Emma Downey

To celebrate the Women’s Festival of Cycling we are featuring a series of interviews with inspiring female cyclists all throughout July.


Interview with Emma (@outdoorems)

Emma doesn’t only have a personal love for cycling, she also works in cycling managing a bikeability programme for all ages and abilities in Bristol.


Emma, can you tell us a little bit about the work you do at your bikeability programme?

Bikeability is a national programme which helps people of all ages and abilities to get cycling. Right from little ones learning to glide on balance bikes, through learning to ride and then venturing onto quiet roads and onto complex urban riding. It also includes inclusive cycling for people with disabilities and those who may need extra support.


Why do you cycle?

To get around the city because it's easier, quicker and cheaper. For work because my job is all about promoting cycling, so it sets a good example (and it's easier and quicker). I mountain bike for fun, the beautiful outdoors and the company of all my fantastic biking friends.


What inspired you to start cycling?

I've always cycled for work and to get around, but I only got into mountain biking three-years-ago when we went for a work end of year outing. I loved it and have been hooked ever since. Last year I also started doing BMX with the women only BMXercise programme run by access sport which is brilliant fun.


Did you come across any barriers when learning to cycle?

In mountain biking not having other women to ride regularly with was a barrier –– until I found the fantastic Dame Cycling women’s MTB group at the Forest of Dean. There are over 700 members and there are rides for all abilities every week. I have made so many amazing friends and been on some fantastic biking adventures (including a three-day trip to the peak district last weekend). Most women are wary and nervous about riding with men they don't know so women's groups are important to allow women to ride in a supportive, inspiring environment. 


What do you think the benefits of cycling are?

It's so much fun! It's often quicker and easier, definitely cheaper, good for the environment and has lots of benefits for health and wellbeing. Plus, in mountain biking especially, you get to see squirrels, wild boar, beautiful trees and flowers and did I mention just how much fun it is already?


Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone wanting to get into cycling?

Find other women to cycle with. There are loads of brilliant women's groups for all types of sports and social cycling. Facebook is a great place to join groups, chat to others and find out about rides and events.