Women and cycling: some thoughts

Woman cyclist during BikesCount today

Woman cyclist during BikesCount today

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:

Town bikes at Maurice Mathe's

Town bikes at Maurice Mathe’s

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.

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4 Responses to Women and cycling: some thoughts

  1. whybike says:

    Many of my female friends will say they are “into biking” – but what they mean by that is that they like bike trails, not necessarily biking for transportation. Haven’t quite figured out the common denominator among women I know that bike either as serious road cyclists or for transport (vs just leisure)

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks for commenting whybike. Most of my female friends are just not into riding at all and think I am being incredibly brave. I know some that are like your friends too, they will drive their car to a bike track and take the bike out to go for a ride, this is just beyond me, but it’s a start at least. Not many women seem to regard bikes as transport.

  2. anniebikes says:

    It’s an eye opener, isn’t when, especially when statistics and first hand knowledge back up what others have shown — a small percentage of women commute by bike? This is the impetus behind my participation in women’s only rides this year. An yes, most of my friends are sport cyclers too.

    • Vicki says:

      Well, if they are sports cyclists at least they are out there and riding and should have the skills to ride for transport if they chose to. They are also probably not afraid to ride on the road, which is why a lot of women won’t ride for transport.

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