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Bicycling Gender gap?

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amandaeve
amandaeve Posts: 723 Member
It's obvious more men ride bikes than women (75% vs. 25% in the US according to the link below). The articles in the link below look into women who don't ride and why. I am a woman who rides a bike, so obviously I don't identify with the group of focus. I'm curious to hear from real people- are these reasons true? The reasons women don't ride bikes seem to be the same reasons a woman would decide not to do anything that's male-dominated, which is a great number of things.

There are some interesting articles linked here: https://www.cascade.org/womxnbike

Why are Womxn Underrepresented in Biking and Bike Advocacy?

There’s no single reason for this trend – both cultural barriers and a lack of consideration for womxn’s needs in this space contribute. The top three reasons that are cited consistently are:

Lack of safe, protected and connected bike networks to ride on. While important to all people on bikes, in studies womxn have been identified as relatively more concerned about protected bicycle infrastructure. Furthermore, womxn are more likely to be primary caregivers and are more likely to consider the needs of children when asked to judge whether bike infrastructure is safe and comfortable to ride on.

Harassment from other road users – people biking, and people driving. While this is an issue for everyone on a bike, it disproportionately impacts womxn who are less likely to ride due to the harassment they may face.

Lack of confidence and/or feelings of not “fitting in” as “someone who bikes”.
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Replies

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 33,061 Member
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    I'm only a minor biker; I'm mostly a rower.

    I live in a very fortunate area. Still, I talk to other women who feel unsafe because they simply feel unsafe alone in the outdoors in general, but I (and they, mostly) have no personal, direct experiences to support the conclusion of 'unsafeness". (Here I'm talking about recreational biking, where one has choices about place and time, not commuting, which could be a whole different story.) I can't speak for all women in all places, but here, among the women I know, there is some definite self-limiting going on. Like it or not, that's a choice we are making.

    I'm not saying there are no problems or incidents. Still, I know women who bike regularly and lots. I'm sure, overall, there are special problems for women. I also suspect timidity and "expectations" play a role.

    Again, I can only speak for my area and circumstances; Mid-sized urban area set in suburban/rural sprawl, US mid-west (Great Lakes area). I have no hesitation biking by myself, even as a li'l ol' lady. Others do.
  • Lounmoun
    Lounmoun Posts: 8,423 Member
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    I don't bike and never have.

    I didn't really learn as a kid. I was obsessed with my roller skates back then and couldn't be bothered with bikes. I would feel awkward about learning to ride a bike in my 40's. I guess that is lack of confidence, not wanting to take the time to learn and fear of injuring/embarrasing myself.
    I can't really afford to spend the money on a bike for me.
    I feel comfortable walking around my town and do so often. I have not been harrased while out walking so I don't think people would harrass me on a bike. There are not really special bike lanes or trails around here though. I think adult bikers are less common here.
  • RunsWithBees
    RunsWithBees Posts: 1,508 Member
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    I tried biking but the reason I didn’t keep at it was simply because bike seats are incredibly uncomfortable for me! I tried all kinds of “comfort”seats and gel padding, etc, but I guess my anatomy just wasn’t built for bike seats. I got tired of suffering bruised pelvic bones and not to mention the inconvenience of riding during that time of the month, no thanks! I’m a runner, though and have no problem going on the road or out on the trails by myself. I do take as many protective measures as I can and know and accept the risks because they are far outweighed by the benefits (for me). Also, isn’t it kind of well-known that cyclists often have low bone density? Perhaps some women are wary of this and don’t want to risk it since we already have to worry about it as we age.
  • serindipte
    serindipte Posts: 1,557 Member
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    My main reason is the lack of bike lanes in my area. The roads around me don't have shoulders to ride or walk in either. I have started riding but just down to a large parking lot that I can ride around in.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
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    It's reasonably bike-friendly where I am, but the main reason I see is not feeling safe on the road or having a good place to ride and, yes, probably not feeling as comfortable riding alone in less populated areas/trails if they don't have someone to ride with. Probably also social/cultural issues like not feeling as comfortable taking a long time away during a weekend day for a longer ride if they have children at home/a partner not into it or needing to get kids to school so it being harder to work in bike commuting.

    I do know lots of women who bike, however (and I bike some), and locally there's a women-focused bike shop that does bike maintenance classes, has group rides, and so on.

    I enjoy biking but find running more relaxing just because of things like traffic or time to get to a less busy place to ride. Running is out the door and on the sidewalk, easy.
  • zyxst
    zyxst Posts: 9,145 Member
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    I don't cycle for a few reasons.

    1. Money to buy and outfit a bike that works with street/off-road (rough track) riding.
    2. There are biking trails around, but they are either not made for casual riding or too far for me to cycle there, cycle for a certain time, cycle back.
    3. Humans.
    4. Leary of being hit by a car again.
    5. The weather here is shizzle for cycling. I prefer to cycle in warm, sunny weather.
  • Fittreelol
    Fittreelol Posts: 2,535 Member
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    I don't bike anymore because I moved from a city in MI with super wide streets and plenty of room to a colonial city in PA with very narrow roads and angry drivers. I still occasionally hit up a rail trail with my friends, but I compete in powerlifting so most of my free time for exercise is taken up by that.
  • lokihen
    lokihen Posts: 382 Member
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    Where I used to work the cyclists were all men. The women were more likely to take group classes or walk on lunch breaks. I love to ride myself.
  • kayakerandbiker
    kayakerandbiker Posts: 26 Member
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    I consider myself a recreational bicycling enthusiast. I am selective about the bike paths/trails that I use due to personal safety concerns. I bike on urban paths with a bicycle club and on those particular trails, it is the only way I would. I would not consider bicycling on vehicle roadways. The concept of "share the road" is beyond the drivers in this area.
  • peleroja
    peleroja Posts: 3,979 Member
    edited May 2018
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    My own experience...

    I cycle commute every day year-round, and I'm lucky enough to have a bike storage and locker/shower facilities for cyclists at my office tower.

    There is parking for 65 bikes and it looks very full this time of year. Yet, I am invariably completely alone in the women's locker room from September to May and only occasionally do I ever see another woman even June-August. There are tons of men I run into daily or weekly parking my bike, but no women.

    My city has only recently made an effort to improve bike infrastructure, but last year they opened kilometres of dedicated bike lanes and upgraded multi-use paths to make bike commuting friendier, and it makes me sad that it still seems to be such a male activity when it's now really safe and protected for everyone. They even plow and de-ice the lanes in winter!

    I personally will only ride where there are bike lanes, multiuse paths, or on non-major roads in residential areas for safety reasons, but in a city where that is possible to do, it's unfortunate that so few do. We do also have extreme winters (snow often Oct-May, weeks of -40 temperatures, and this year we had something like 170 days consecutively reaching below freezing), which I understand makes a lot of people unwilling to cycle...but I do it and it's really not that bad. I know not everyone is willing to bike through a foot of snow and two inches of ice in -20C week after week, but still, in spring/summer/fall it is a great way to get some exercise in.
  • youngcaseyr
    youngcaseyr Posts: 293 Member
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    I used to ride my bike all the time as a way to get around when I was younger, but not for exercise. I don't ride for exercise simply because I prefer running and it is more accessible to me, especially when traveling
  • Tweaking_Time
    Tweaking_Time Posts: 733 Member
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    OP - My experience is most women that ride do so with boyfriends or husbands or in groups...emphasis is on the word "most." There are many cycling groups in town here including all-women and co-ed groups. I think group rides tend to be the safest as opposed to being a solo cyclist on an isolated bit of road or trail.

    My wife cycles, but she is just beginning and I have a hard time riding as slow as she does for more than 30 minutes, but I will do so when there are some questionable characters on the trails we ride on.

    While our trails are largely very safe, there was a hammer attack last year...and the attacker happened to attack a female trainer. They never caught him but I bet he was surprised to find that his "target" fought back and fought for her life as well.

    FWIW - I mostly ride solo and many miles on very isolated trails. I am also armed.
  • funjen1972
    funjen1972 Posts: 949 Member
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    I don't bike mainly for safety reasons. An accident with a motor vehicle would lead to potential serious injury and there are way too many idiot drivers for me to take the risk. I walk and jog, mainly on sidewalks which I feel provides a safer experience.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,865 Member
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    I tried biking but the reason I didn’t keep at it was simply because bike seats are incredibly uncomfortable for me! I tried all kinds of “comfort”seats and gel padding, etc, but I guess my anatomy just wasn’t built for bike seats. I got tired of suffering bruised pelvic bones and not to mention the inconvenience of riding during that time of the month, no thanks! I’m a runner, though and have no problem going on the road or out on the trails by myself. I do take as many protective measures as I can and know and accept the risks because they are far outweighed by the benefits (for me). Also, isn’t it kind of well-known that cyclists often have low bone density? Perhaps some women are wary of this and don’t want to risk it since we already have to worry about it as we age.

    The "comfort" seats and gel padding over the seat is about the worst thing you can do saddle wise. A good saddle should fit your sit bones and padded cycling shorts help a lot.

    In regards to the low bone density thing, that's really mostly an issue for elite level, professional cyclists. The studies that were done saw no difference in bone density for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

    As to the OP, my wife will only cycle with me or one of her friends...mostly because it doesn't matter how many times I show her how to change a flat, she's worried she won't be able to do it.
  • Avidkeo
    Avidkeo Posts: 3,190 Member
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    jjpptt2 wrote: »
    I bike sometimes, just for fun. I would 100% say something that stops me from biking is safety. Far to many cases of women being kidnapped, raped, and murdered from their bikes. In general though, women worry about that kind of thing more then men.

    Is that really an issue? I'm not trying to downplay it or make light of the situation, but is that really a wide-reaching concern to the point that it's a significant limiting factor? "being kidnapped, raped, and murdered"?

    I don't doubt women think/worry about it more than men... I guess I'm wondering if it's an issue for women because they worry about it, or do they worry about it because it's an issue.

    I'm not sure if it's really a reasonable worry for anyone- statistically you're very unlikely to get kidnapped/raped/murdered by a rando stranger, but those stats do go up if you are a woman. It's probably not going to be that extreme, but most women have been creeped on just living life- someone groping us on the bus, someone who won't take 'no, I won't give you my number' for an answer, someone who think it's funny to shout inappropriate things, etc.

    Women are often taught it's a fact of life and 'boys will be boys' or 'men can't control their urges'. Women don't talk about it because we get stuff like, "well he was drunk", "what were you wearing", "were YOU drunk?" It's changing (I think) but slowly.

    This, so much this. Statistically kidnappings and rape are done by someone known to the victim, like around 95% or a similarly high number. The problem is because stranger rape is so rare it gets a lot of media attention and therefore is perceived to be very common.

    I regularly go running after dark, something I know not of women do out of fear. My only worry is tripping over or being hit by a driver who didn't see me. The possibility of being kidnapped/raped never really crosses my mind. For reference I don't live in the US.

    As far as biking, I simply don't enjoy it, that's why I don't do it.