Want more people to bike? Feminize cycling!

I’m a woman and I make all sorts of trips by bike, including my work commute, but I’m in the minority in this country.  An October 2009 article by Linda Baker in Scientific American Magazine states that if you want to increase the level of bicycle transportation trips in the US then we need to get more women on bikes.

In the US, men’s cycling trips surpass women’s by at least 2:1.  This ratio stands in marked contrast to cycling in European countries, where urban biking is a way of life and draws about as many women as men–sometimes more.  In the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made by bike, 55 percent of all riders are women.  In Germany 12 percent percent of all trips are on bikes, 49 percent of which are made by women.

So why don’t American women bike more often?  Are we worried about the dreaded helmet hair?  Not really.  Are we trying to avoid sweating?  Nah.  Are we concerned about safety? BINGO.

pedbikeimages.org/Elly Blue

Earlier this year, the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals (APBP) conducted an online survey about women and their attitudes and concerns about biking. Over 13,000 women responded to the survey, and the preliminary data confirms that women are concerned about their safety while biking on our city streets.  Respondents expressed concern about distracted driving (78%), speeding vehicles (69%), and vehicles turning right in front of them (61%).  Participants also wanted more bike lanes (69%) and more off road pathways (52%).

If we truly want to increase the number of Americans who bicycle, then it’s time to get women on bikes..  We need to listen to what women say keeps them from biking and address those issues.

New York City has made a significant investment in bike infrastructure, installing 200 miles of bike lanes over the past three years.  Now they are working to increase the number of women who bike for transportation.  The Streetfilms video Women in Motion: New Lady Riders Reflect on NYC Cycling interviews women new to cycling and explores what motivated them to try bicycling.


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