Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Urban Cycling: It’s a Guy Thing, Apparently

by Will Wlizlo

Tags: biking, demographics, infographic, mind and body, Visual.ly, Will Wlizlo,


Urban bicycling is generally becoming more popular in American cities, but there are a few smaller trends that complicate the larger narrative. A new infographic designed by Bike League for the website Visual.ly breaks down the demographics of bicycle use across the country—and there are a few surprises. (Click through for large version.)

I was most surprised to see that overall only about a quarter of commuting cyclists are women. The gender imbalance comes closer to evening out in bigger, “biking cities,” such as Portland, Oregon, and Utne Reader hometown Minneapolis. (Represent!) I can only speculate on the causes of the imbalance—that’s the thing with infographics: The related research is boiled down to make the data more interesting. It may have something to do with bike-related infrastructure spending; I’m drawing on a few stereotypes here, but I imagine that men would be more likely to tough out unsafe, bike-unfriendly road conditions than women.

According to the infographic, it’s unclear whether bicycle infrastructure spending encouraged more people to pedal in to work. As shown on the total bicycle commuters graph (bottom, second from left), ridership peaked in 2008, which followed, according to the spending graph (bottom, second from right), only a slight increase in pedestrian infrastructure enhancement. Unfortunately the former graph doesn’t extend past 2009, a year that coincided with more than a billion dollars of pedestrian infrastructure spending. If cities are to continue to invest in bike paths, local governments will likely demand data showing an increase in ridership.

(Thanks, Atlantic Cities.)

Source: Visual.ly 

Image by Bike League.