Tuesday, May 4, 2010

To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want

CYCLE TRACK, here along New York City's Ninth Avenue, keeps bicyclists physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. Such designs make riding safer and could boost the number of women cyclists.
Monica Bradley

According to Scientific American, a good barometer of a community's bike friendliness is the number of women actually biking. The article states that women want a good infrastructure and safety.

From the article - "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."

But I was out biking today in Chester County, PA and doing a solo ride. While out enjoying the scenery I was struck by the fact that I saw so many other ladies out doing the same thing. I saw well over 10 other ladies, most age 50 or older, out biking on roads with no shoulders, no bike lanes and often resurfaced with the worst material known to mankind; tar and chip.

I stopped and and talked to 3 ladies that I knew but again was amazed at how many ladies felt safe and bold enough to bike on roads. Most times communities think women will only bike on bike trails or in bike lanes.

But from what I saw today, I can only conclude that Chester County is making headway in the biking arena. This progress is astounding considering that my county and state have not contributed one iota to this growth.

My state of PA has done nothing in my county to make biking fun and safe. As I said, we have no shoulders, no bike lanes and no provisions at all to make biking safe. Plus my state dumps tons of gravel and tar on all the roads to resurface them. Why my state uses this awful material is anybody's guess? I hear the old argument that they cannot afford a better material but my neighboring state of Delaware manages to pave all of their roads with macadam.

This growth of the female biking demographic in my county is apparently being pushed by the women themselves. They feel safe and they want to bike. AND they ARE!

What a pleasure for me, who has been biking for over 20 years to finally see other like-minded ladies out on the roads. We all waved to each other and felt good seeing each other.

So despite NO infrastructure, ( I had to take a pee pee behind a tree) the women in my county are hitting the roads and biking. YIPPEE


Jim Nariel said...

Keep cycling and enjoying. The world is changing toward a better cycling place


Libby Maxim said...

the chicks in my county are taking to the roads, despite the obstacles, often we hear, no infrastructure, women wont bike, but not so here, the ladies have arrived

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