Urban Cycling: It’s a Guy Thing, Apparently

| 12/30/2011 10:38:04 AM


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 

Lisa Jorgensen
1/21/2012 4:29:39 PM

I suggested that my two young teenage daughters bike to school. Four major problems: 1) school arrival is before 7:15 am - in deep darkness most of the year; 2) 30 to 50 pounds of books that would be difficult to properly balance within a reasonable amount of time to arrive safely; 3) a lack of safe roads to get to their schools; and 4) the lack of safe, secure locking areas for their bicycles. I bicycled all through college, but, I also bicycled to grade school for years. The school climate and expectations need to be changed!

Bob Crochelt
1/11/2012 4:56:34 PM

On a recent trip to San Francisco I noted cyclists on Market Street travelling in groups of 5 to 20. Seems like they might have come together for protection and to even the playing field competing for lane space, etc.

Caitlin Ahern
1/11/2012 8:19:24 AM

I agree with Gary. I think a large part of the uneven gender distribution may be due to the fact that these biking hot spots are all cities - cities have a higher crime rate and women may feel less safe than men when navigating the city via bike.

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