Isla Rowntree is most well-known for starting IslaBikes, a company that transformed children’s bicycles, with all kinds of child-friendly innovations. If you look up reviews, or ask online, they’re always the top recommendation and influencer, and right now there are kids everywhere loving cycling because of Rowntree’s work.
But she’s also helped transform women’s cycling before that, being a key figure in the fight to let women race cyclocross. When Rowntree started, the GB National Championships were only for men, as were the World Cups and World Championships – and she was a major part of the fight to change that.
And she doesn’t stop taking risks and fighting for change. Rowntree is currently working on the Imagine Project, to make children’s bikes sustainable, in a future where resources will become scarcer – through recycling, but also exciting new models of renting rather than buying bikes. It’s a fascinating project – and as she says, a risky one personally and for her company.
We talk about all that, the challenges of effecting change – and you can listen to our conversation, or read the transcript below.
We didn’t get into the questions specifically about children’s bikes, because there are a lot of interviews with Rowntree about that out there. A selection of interviews and articles:
And more about the Imagine Project – BBC news item on the Circular Economy and on the project, and interviews on the Guardian and Cyclesprog – and watch the video:
Find out more about Islabikes on their website, twitter, facebook, instagram and YouTube – including their great articles on teaching a child to ride, cycling to school, and lots of ideas and tips including riding as a family, starting kids racing and more. And you can follow Isla Rowntree on her twitter too.
If you want your child to test-ride a bike, there are events all over the UK – including the Islabikes pop-up shop in Battersea, on 7-9th April 2017.
ProWomensCycling: Can you start by telling us a little bit about how you got into cycling?