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FWIW,42% (28 of 67) of cyclists who attended my office's BTWD events and rode - or declared that they rode in that day and didn't attend events - were women. And I know for a fact that most of those women are "regular" bike commuters - which I will say is several times a week during Spring-Fall. And a few ride all winter long. So...we're out there.

the fashion argument is key. Too much of bike sales aren't selling attractive bikes and accessories. Helmets also are bad for hair.

Bike shops aren't very female friendly places either. If it wasn't for the cycle chic websites I doubt I could convince my GF to get on a bike....

My wife bike commutes to DC about half the time. The main impediment is what I would call "thoughtless danger spots" or "thoughtless bottlenecks". These are areas where really confident cyclists don't get too concerned because they can ride in the traffic lanes and aren't too intimidated by traffic. But they can be obstacles to not-quite-as-confident riders, or those just getting started. What's so annoying is that with a little work, most of them could be upgraded from "challenging but accessible" to "flat out safe" for all riders with just a tiny bit of work or thoughfulness. Examples: the Union Station area, or, out in the suburbs, the Greenbelt Metro area. Both areas are accessible by bike, but both can also be unnecessarily intimidating.

You can see the difference in other cities. We ride for hours all over the Montreal area without any concerns, totally on separated cycletracks and trails. People of all ages and skill levels feel safe to be out on their bikes. What you realize quickly when you get there though, is that the tracks and trails aren't really that extensive -- there aren't that many of them. But there are very carefully thought out to provide access to most places (not always perfectly directly of course), and with careful accomodation for the important connections and trouble spots.

Back here in the DC area, we have wonderful multi-use trail systems in some places, but the connections to neighborhoods and work and commercials areas and from trail to trail aren't there sometimes. The trails aren't part of a larger transportation plan. Progress is slow relative to the potential.

seems to me that women are more saddled with child care, and while biking myself to work is something i have done for 23 years, if/when i spit out a kid, i will not bike with that kid where i ride now. it's jjust not the same when there's a kid involved. and even if it's just me riding, once i have a kid, i have a helpless thing utterly dependent on me--not on my husband as much, but me.

while this is not even anecdotal but merely speculative, i do think differential child care responsibilities have something to do with it.

Lack of money is no impediment to bicycle commuting. A large percentage of bike commuters here are recent immigrants -- presumably because cars and gasoline are too expensive.

Yes, Anon, that's an excellent point - the idea that cycling is some kind of expensive hobby is misleading. For many, it's an alternative to a car they can't afford.

I'm going to take a lot of flak for this, but...

Most of the disparities in time spent on housework between men and women is due to the fact that *in general* women have higher standards of household cleanliness than men.

Obviously, there are outliers here (the Felix Ungers of the world). But for the most part, guys are more slovenly. And just as in "The Odd Couple", the tidier member of a couple is going to do more tidying than the one who has a greater tolerance for mess.

There is no arbitrary "right" amount of housework. But try telling Mrs. Oboe that...

Au contraire. The right amount is the amount Mrs. Crikey determines. Although I love having a washing machine located between the garage where the Crickeycycle is stored and the living area of Casa Crickey.

I didn't think the article was very good. I wrote about it in email, but never extended the comments further in a blog entry.

This is what I wrote:

One of the things I criticize in bike and pedestrian planning is that typically, we don't plan systematically based on demographic segment and household type. That failure is captured within the original Grist article, which, like our planning, is insufficiently nuanced.

(Basically most bike plans don't do systematic surveys of riders and nonriders, instead relying on online surveys and meeting attendance, which skews heavily to men under 40 years of age.)

First, I disagree that the cost of a bike is a significant factor. If you make less money, then a bike makes even more sense economically, when compared to other options such as a car or public transit.

Second, the issue of "time" is incompletely considered, because depending on the nature of the trip, biking is faster than other means, and especially compared to transit, when compiling both the time to get to a transit stop, and the time waiting for the transit service to arrive, and the time to get from the transit stop to the final destination.

Third, I agree that just as using transit becomes more difficult when having to carry multiple items or wrangle one or more children, so does biking become more difficult in these situations--especially when typically people don't have the right kinds of bikes or accoutrements that modify their bikes to better handle these types of trips.

Given that we see people riding babies on their bikes or making their bikes into a kind of tandem to accommodate older but still young children, there is no question that this issue is surmountable.

In "coupled" households there are expanded options, e.g., in our noncar household, I am the primary grocery shopper, which I mostly do by bicycle--and I am particularly appreciative of supermarkets proximate to trails in Prince George's County MD and Washington DC.

Fourth, I think that Pucher's work (complemented by Roger Geller's work that 60% of the US population is willing to bike but doesn't because they don't feel safe riding in high traffic high speed situations) is still more likely relevant than the Grist article. The issue is primarily the presence/dearth of infrastructure--both lanes and support facilities--and programming ("education" and "encouragement") to assist people in making the transition.

The real issue in the U.S. is that rise in biking is mostly an urban (center city) phenomenon while the U.S. is still mostly a suburban nation--although many places in the "suburbs" have the right spatial conditions that can support biking, provided that infrastructure and support programming are present.

The real problem is that in suburban places, the right kind of infrastructure is usually not present, which is further accentuated by a non-grid based road network reliant on traffic engorged principal arterials, usually lacking bike lanes, especially cycletracks.

By comparison it's damn easy to do bike planning and to actually bike in center cities, because the spatial preconditions to support biking are already present--even without dedicated infrastructure, the system of parallel streets allows for alternate routes with less traffic and this supports biking.

I have a presentation on suburban bicycle planning accessible here:

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2010/04/best-practice-bicycle-planning-for.html


I don't think the issue is that the poor can't afford a bike. The poor can't afford to live close to work in neighborhoods where biking is easy and safe. It's the neighborhood that's the luxury, not the bike.

As for time, biking is often the fastest way, but sometimes it isn't. I used to bike a lot more when I had more leisure time saying "It will take longer, but it'll be more fun." With less time, I don't say that as often. People with more leisure time will bike more than people with less.

Any one of these generalizations suggested by the two authors breaks down in D.C.

Many women bike while being fashionable (and wearing heels). Biking is, for some, fashionable in and of itself.

Many women have the time to conduct all chores with kids in tow while biking. Men, too. Some have lots of (pricey) gear (wagons for the kids, bikes for the kids, etc.) and some don't.

Many women feel safe biking in D.C., even on major streets, outside of neighborhood streets. This is evidence because it's done. Could there be more infrastructure to make women (and men) feel safe? Absolutely. Heck, turn D.C. into a neo-Mackinac Island.

There are probably poor women cyclists (I can't say many here, I don't have the Marxist superpower where I can tell by looking). These women probably can't afford gas and/or cars and/or rush hour metro fare. Or metro/buses aren't convenient for them and take too much of their time.

My point in saying any of this is that for men as well as women, it varies person to person and it's probably going to take a person by person approach to make people feel more comfortable on bikes. The only policy solution I see is related to increasing bike infrastructure. The other is a cultural shift that seems to be hurt by applying generalizations to one sex and not another.

For men that don't bike, why? Fashion? It might be hard for some men to see themselves biking in a suit if they don't have showers at work. Time? If men are working an hour more at the job and not at home, seems they don't have time either (I think we all could use more time). Safety? Yeah, riding in automobiles is freakin' scary. Poverty? I imagine there are poor male cyclists, too.

The latter article's note about what it means to be feminine seems to fly in the face of some feminist arguments. Femininity vs. feminism, interesting.

Every person is different and just because we know someone's gender doesn't mean we know anything about them. But when we talk about larger groups we can generalize about the GROUP as a whole. How many American men would we need to choose at random before the chances of one of them being a football fan increases to 100%? Not that many probably.

So what we're talking about are women in general, but not any individual woman. And women in general bike less than men, even while many women do bike.

A person by person approach just isn't realistic. We don't have those kind of resources.

The article and the comments read like a bad joke. Women do not bike because of the patriarchy and the male gaze. No, women do not bike for the same reasons that most men do not bike: it is easier to drive or take public transit almost everywhere in the United States than it is to bike. Only in places where this is not true or not as true do we see people bike in any great numbers. The male gaze has nothing to do with it.

Of the few people who do choose to bike, most are men, because men are more subversive than women. You can see this in the fact that men are more likely to become terrorists, revolutionaries, murderers, drug addicts, and dungeon masters. If you want to attract more women to biking, the best thing you can do is attract more people to biking.

which of course is the basic point made in all of Pucher's writings, and secondarily in Geller's.

Basically, people say they are willing to bike but don't.

They don't because the infrastructure and facilities that are present, mostly, don't meet their needs.

This is true for all demographics.

And which is why in my work, I focus on this broad issue systematically.

Ely Blue's observation that men are less likely to admit to fear is an interesting one.

These figures don't add up to a whole that does much to illuminate the question. I think that this is a case where we'd need qualitative ethnographic methods to make sense of the stats and speculation.

Quantitative approaches do have their place but they need to be more fine-grained. As Shawn notes, numbers are going to vary depending on overall ridership in a given locale. I'm sure there are enormous cultural divides, too.

Of the few people who do choose to bike, most are men, because men are more subversive than women.

KLO, that - as a cause for less biking - is totally unsupported by the data. And no one mentions the male gaze but you.

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