Tuesday 12 November 2013

Women and cycling: what's going on?


With Gear Up Girl SA almost upon us, (just 2 weeks to go!), we thought we would take a look at Women and cycling - and why this is one relationship that needs work.

In countries like Australia, where cycling participation levels are pretty low by international standards, the vast majority of regular and especially commuter cyclists are men. 

While women constitute about one-third of recreational cyclists here and in the US, they make up roughly just one-quarter of commuter cyclists. So, what's going on?

In  the book "City Cycling", researchers Jan Garrard, Susan Handy and Jennifer Dill dedicate a whole chapter to this issue. Here's what they say: personal safety and traffic risks are the biggest factors deterring women from using their bikes as a regular form of transport.

This idea seems to be supported by the results of studies the world over, and in cities where real efforts have been made to improve safety conditions for cyclists not only do cycling rates go up, but the gender gap seems to all but vanish.

Garrard, Handy and Dill argue that it is not purely cycling for fitness or work transport that needs focus to get more women cycling, but that "the overall aim should be the normalization of utility cycling for women. Seeing women who look similar to themselves...can encourage more women to cycle."

So, it needs to be easier and safer to cycle to friends houses, to drop the kids off, to go to the shops, to go to work: basically, to integrate cycling in everyday life.

Sounds sensible to us.

Get a group of friends together to Gear Up Girl SA is on Sunday, November 24. Sign up here.

Bicycle SA has created a short survery to try and identify barriers to women cycling. Help us out by completing it here.

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