Bicycle Network: Women's Cycling
Verity Firth MP
Verity Firth is NSW Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Women. What's more, she’s a bike rider
Tell us one thing you love about bike riding.
I love the feeling of freedom you have when you are on a bike. It’s good exercise but you often don’t notice! I think I feel free because it reminds me of riding a bike as a kid – without a care in the world.
What kind of riding do you like to do?
I would love to be able to say I ‘ride to work’, but I should be honest, as I am yet to be that organised in the morning. I ride recreationally at the weekends with the family. My daughter is two and a half and she loves sitting up in her seat at the back, watching the world go by.
What’s the one thing you’d change to get more people riding in Sydney?
For people with children, it is all about safety, especially if you are riding with a young child on the back of your bike. So any improvements in off-road infrastructure will always boost the attractiveness of riding to young families.
An interstate bike-riding friend is planning to visit Sydney. What’s your top tip for a riding destination?
The Glebe foreshore walk/ride is great, although it’s getting pretty crowded because it’s so popular! I also recommend Homebush in the early morning.
As NSW Minister for Education, how do you think we can get more children riding to school?
Getting more kids riding to school is something I’m passionate about. I’m an Ambassador for a fantastic program called ‘Ride2School’. Teachers say that the students are more attentive and awake in first period if they have either cycled or walked to school.
Australian women’s rate of cycling for transport is about one third the male rate, and for recreation it’s half the male rate. What do you think would get more women riding?
For women it is all about safety and confidence, especially if they are riding with children in tow. This is why I support the Gear Up Girl initiative. Gear Up Girl runs many events aimed at getting women’s cycling skills up to scratch so they feel confident on their bike.
How can State and Federal Governments help Lord Mayor Clover Moore implement Sydney’s exciting Cycle Strategy and Action Plan?
I have worked personally with the Lord Mayor on cycling initiatives and as Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, I arranged $60,000 of funding for the City of Sydney to coordinate the first stage of the regional cycling strategy. In this financial year more than $40 million has been allocated by the NSW Government to cycling projects around NSW.
Basket or backpack: how do you carry your stuff when you’re riding?
Basket – perfect for small groceries and park treats.
Interview by Fiona Negrin. This article first appeared in Ride On June–July 2009