Check out this really interesting read on urban planning, bicycling, and, yup, gender in Scientific American. The bottom line:
“If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’–just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female,” says Jan Garrard, a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and author of several studies on biking and gender differences.
It turns out that if an urban center wants to increase its bicycling, it has to consider recent studies on gender difference in bike lane usage. “Despite our hope that gender roles don’t exist, they still do,” says Jennifer Dill, a transportation and planning researcher at Portland State University.
Women, generally-speaking, are less likely to utilize bike lanes set in high-traffic areas, but in parks, low-traffic roadways, and the like, they are nearly 50% of riders. The enduring gender role differences also play a role here. Women who need to strap on some kids, groceries, or other precious cargo, need urban infrastructure that makes that easier (who wants to be carting a toddler around in the middle of honking, dangerous traffic?). European cities, many of which are more consciously planned around safe, cargo-laden biking, have much higher raters of women riders.
Of course, I also know some NYC-based badass women bicyclists (Christy Thornton!), who are neither risk-averse, nor lugging babes, so I wonder how they would feel about assumptions like these. Your thoughts?
Thanks to perfectlyskewed for the heads up.