There is some thought that most women will not cycle until they perceive that it is safe to do so, and that, therefore, the barometer of safe cycling infrastructure is a majority of female cyclists. See this report for a discussion of some of these issues in America.
Today, I counted bikes at an intersection in Adamstown for data collection purposes. This is organised by Newcastle Cycleways Movement. Out of a total of 117 bikes I counted, 13 of them were ridden by women. So the numbers in Newcastle do not look good.
Yet, the local bike shop owner told me that he sells many women’s city bikes at Christmas and he had many in stock in readiness for Christmas this year:
So apparently many women are getting new bikes, but are they using them?
The BikesCount was done this morning between 7am and 9 am and, while there were a few who looked like they were on a training ride, most cyclists looked like they were going to work or to school. It is likely that women cyclists are not as much into this type of cycling, especially if they are buying the cruisy type of bikes shown above. It is more likely that those bikes will be used for weekend and leisure riding with friends, amd I do see many groups of girls riding on such bikes around Newcastle, both off road on cycleways and on the roads, usually on back streets.
The message I take from this is that if we are to see more women on bikes, there must be better cycling infrastructure, and that this is something that is sorely missing in Newcastle.