Tuesday, December 1, 2009

why having women on bikes can help a community

How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road is a great article about why it is important to get women on bikes and on the roads. Also today the Bicycle Coalition of Philly links to great video about this issue as well.

Why should we even care if women bike? Apparently if women are on the roads it is a good thing for biking for everyone involved.

I recently posted an article about bike chic and the post generated tons of interest across the globe. I was being derided in many countries about my stance.

Put a lady in heels on a bike and voila, the men are interested. If a cute chick rode in heels on her bike around my area here in Pennsylvania, cars would crash trying to get a glimpse of her

We are not as evolved as Copenhagen where bike chic is an everyday thing. But in reality, it says a lot about Copenhagen and its ability to make women feel safe on a bike. If women can jump on their bikes in sexy gear and still get to where they want to get to, this community is definitely bike friendly.

We are nowhere close to this in PA, heck, any time I am on my bike I am at risk of getting run off the road by a motorist.

But from what I have read, getting chicks on bikes does a community good. If ladies feel safe on a bike, that community is doing something right.

Most biking stores and bike clubs in my area are geared to the guy and his bike. Men work in these stores, men are the mechanics and men do all the fitting. Bike clubs post tons of rides for the elite riders, my club lists anywhere from 5-10 rides per week for elite riders. The one C ride I list is it for women wanting a slower ride where they feel safe.

But these elite riders according to the Scientific American article do not make biking more prevalent in a community.

from the SA article linked above....

"Women are considered an “indicator species” for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child ­rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding. Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means these bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference."

This risk factor of fear is often not understood by the male cyclist. The men pride themselves on speed and risk, it is just who they are. Bike stores and bike clubs need to understand this in order to get women riding. And from what I can see in my area, this is not happening.

Bike stores should get women working in them, bike clubs should be promoting rides that encourage women to take up bike riding. If we want biking to become a commonplace activity, we need women doing it. It seems having women on bikes says more about a community than seeing a group of guys on bikes. Sorry guys!

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