British Cycling has published its first long-term strategy to embed equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels of the sport and activity of cycling, and ensure that riders of all backgrounds and abilities have the opportunity to fulfil their cycling ambitions.

The #OurRide strategy details the national governing body’s aims and priorities in seven key areas, covering the period 2021-26. These are: British Cycling’s culture; decision-making structures; the organisation’s workforce; marketing and communications; membership, clubs and services; the talent pathway; and partnerships.

An implementation plan for the first year of the strategy is now close to completion, which will include:

  • plans to extend scholarship opportunities to widen access to education and coaching opportunities;
  • piloting new guided ride opportunities for adapted cycles;
  • targeted activity to improve representation on British Cycling commissions and boards;
  • training for the organisation’s Executive Leadership Team on successfully embedding inclusive practices.

The strategy has been developed over the past nine months in collaboration with the organisation’s 14-member Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group of independent experts, which was appointed in February 2021, and through extensive consultation with external stakeholders.

Insight from British Cycling highlights the scale of the challenge ahead, with figures showing that 95% of riders on the British Cycling Talent Development programmes are white, compared to 86% of the general population, while just 8% of British Cycling volunteers have a life-limiting illness or disability, compared to 16% of the general population. Despite improvements over recent years, women make up only 17% of British Cycling’s membership.

Further insight from the National LGB&T Partnership found that 55% of LGBTQ+ men and 56% of LGBTQ+ women were not active enough to maintain good health, compared to 33% of men and women in the general population, while this figure rises to 64% of LGBTQ+ people who identified as something other than male or female.

While British Cycling has made positive steps to correct these historic disparities over recent years, through initiatives such as its network of Disability Hubs and support for groups such as the Evolve network for Muslim women and LGBTQ+ cycling group, PRiDE OUT, this is the organisation’s first holistic strategy encompassing equality, diversity and inclusion at every level.

British Cycling CEO, Brian Facer, said: “I’m very proud to be a part of an organisation which is committed to such a bold and ambitious long-term strategy for equality, diversity and inclusion, which will sit at the very heart of everything which we will seek to achieve over the years ahead.

“We know from our discussions, research and data that there are too many potential cyclists who experience a barrier of one kind or another into our sport and activity, or who do not feel welcome in our community. And while some people do not see, feel, experience or understand those barriers, they definitely do exist.

“It is imperative that we take a lead in this area, strengthening governance, offering more opportunities to cycle and compete, and improving representation, and I believe that this new strategy can play a significant role in making cycling more reflective of society as a whole.

“I would like to thank our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group for their support and insight and hope that everyone who loves cycling will support us as we implement this strategy.”

Aneela McKenna, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group Co-Chair, said: “There is a significant problem with diversity in cycling but in general there has never been a conscious, strategic effort to do something about it. British Cycling’s strategy marks a new and challenging era for cycling in the UK, and now it’s time for change and a move towards meaningful action to create positive outcomes for everyone.

“If we want this to work we must collaborate, connect our communities and work in partnership to create a cycling community where everyone’s voice is heard and celebrated. This strategy is an important milestone on this road and I look forward to being part of the journey ahead.”

The delivery of the strategy will be underpinned by a number of guiding principles, including data, insight and the implementation of targeted pilot initiatives. Much of this work is currently ongoing, including: a long-term research project conducted alongside Sport England into the disability cycling landscape; support for the Diversity in Cycling research work conducted by Andy Edwards; and a Local Delivery Pilot in Bradford to boost cycling participation in the city’s diverse ethnic communities.

British Cycling would like to extend its thanks to the individuals, groups and other stakeholders who have supported the organisation on the journey so far, and in particular Inclusive Employers, Sport England and British Cycling’s external Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group.