For the ladies on the board, from the League of American Cyclists

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Aug 12 2013 at 8:51pm #


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Aug 13 2013 at 8:25am #

I have to say, this report disappointed me.

Yes, it gives me some good data. But, it also has a lot of fluff.

As a planner, I think it actually makes the job of “encouraging” women to cycle MORE DIFFICULT. The issues are just too complex.

What I need to take from this are the much smaller datasets, rather than the totality. Does the fact that only a third of women feel they can “easily” find biking attire they like and that fits relevant to encouraging more women to cycle? Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe the value is in getting women who already cycle some, to cycle more. But I have little or no control over that variable.

So, help me find the 3-5 things in this report that ARE relevant, and capable of being influenced through planning or policy, so we can focus on those.

My takeaways from the report are that we do have a relatively healthy share of female cyclists in the City (our counts usually put the m/f ratio at about 75/25%). Helmet use in the City is much higher than national averages, a good thing for safety centered women. The report indicates that separated bike lanes are the way to get women to ride more. Do we stop and focus all our efforts on getting the one or two separated cycletracks that are reasonable to expect in this region, and stop advancing bike lanes and sharrows in other areas? Does that serve the City’s needs?

Unfortunately, in today’s fiscal and political climate, those are the questions we need to ask. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the report findings, and what they might mean for Pittsburgh.


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Aug 13 2013 at 4:50pm #

For me, the overriding goal has to be getting more people on bikes, on the streets, in all neighborhoods/localities. That makes everyone safer, which leads to even more people, on bikes, on the streets, in all neighborhoods/localities.

I’ve also never been a fan of most “women-specific x” and generalizations about what women do–but that’s probably my personal peeve.


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Aug 13 2013 at 5:09pm #

This crossed my desk via the interwebs today…..


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Aug 13 2013 at 5:18pm #

I am a bit surprised that the study found a .5% drop in male ridership from 2003 to 12.

@ Swalfoort – I still need to read the whole report. But one approach would be to identify a small limited area with a high density of families, women, and children, local shops, neighborhood schools, high transit use (parking issues?) possibly even just a one mile square, and push to saturate that mile with every conceivable component of ideal bike infrastructure – turn tertiary streets into neighborhood bikeways, sharrows, 20 mph speed limits, abundant racks, etc. For a relatively small dollar investment, I could see making one square mile of Squirrel Hill, just obliterate it with bike utopia, and see how it seeds.

Just brainstorming.


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Aug 13 2013 at 6:08pm #

Pseudacris wrote:This crossed my desk via the interwebs today…..

Now THAT is cool! :)


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Aug 13 2013 at 8:29pm #

The stats in that article strike me as geared towards making “Oh wow!” statements, not giving insight.

I would expect better literature (MUCH better) from the league. But I haven’t read their literature before.

edmonds59 wrote:I am a bit surprised that the study found a .5% drop in male ridership from 2003 to 12.

Yeah, me too. Their reference there isn’t easy to trace. The reference only refers to “The National sporting good association.” My impression is they have more than a f ew papers, but you have to pay to see them.

A quick google search brings up nothing that agrees with that and a bunch of things that say otherwise
Says: “Almost all the growth in cycling in the USA has been among men between 25-64 years old, while cycling rates have remained steady among women and fallen sharply for children.”
This is so extreme and contrary to what my eyes see on the streets that I tend to dismiss it, too. But it was the first thing I found.
Table 1, on page 7 says women made 33% of all bike trips in
2001, but only 24% in 2009.

Both these stats can be traced to John Pucher. They don’t fill me with confidence in his work, so I don’t know what to believe.

One of those things where too much of the “research” has some ax to grind to make finding answers easy.


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Aug 14 2013 at 6:00am #

I’m not sure I trust any of these so called statistics and generalizations. Like StefB has expressed before, I don’t always get why any of this gender-specific stuff is necessary. I’m a human and I like to ride and I expect that reasons why I like to ride aren’t that much different than why the guys ride.

OK, the bean counters think this is important though, and I’ve been asked before about what would encourage me to ride more and to more places, and the safety issue is definitely a biggie. What percentage of the local population wears helmets does not ever come into play though. That statistic is totally irrelevant to me since the only thing that affects my safety is whether or not I wear a helmet.

I definitely feel more comfortable in a designated bike lane. Sharrows don’t do a lot for me. They’re nice in that they call attention to the fact that cyclists might be present, but that only helps raise awareness for the already aware/responsible drivers.

Outside of bike lanes, what would give me more of a warm fuzzy might be better enforcement of traffic laws. I tire of being tailgated and illegally passed when I’m driving. When I’m on the bike those speeding, aggressive drivers are more than aggravating – they’re a threat to my life.

No matter what the laws offer as far as sharing the roads, and bikes having as much rights to be there as cars, etc, etc… That means nothing when you’re dead. We’ve all heard the statistics that men (especially the teen-20’s age group) take more risks (to the point of feeling indestructible). Just look at the discrepancy in car insurance premiums for the two genders in that age bracket. It makes sense that those same guys would be more willing to take higher risks when riding, and that would correspond to the numbers of men riding in situations that most women would choose to avoid.

So yeah, better bike infrastructure would seem to be the key to encouraging more female riders to ride – or to encourage more of the ones that already ride to ride more.

All the “bike clothes” garbage is just that IMHO – garbage. If she wants to ride, she’ll figure it out. Sure there’s going to be a percentage of women looking for an excuse, but I don’t believe the convenience of having an REI on every street corner would get those women on a bike. Forget about trying to motivate them with superficial stuff.


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Aug 14 2013 at 7:03am #

srpit – I agree. The focus on consumer goods as a way to attract women to something feels icky. The women I know are concerned about safety, not the latest accessories. That said, I do like when bike shops carry women’s stuff and I find it insulting that 99% of golf shops have a tiny corner for women’s gear. But it doesn’t make me not want to golf.

And I find it interesting that there’s a stat about how many women *own* bikes. Owning a bike doesn’t make you a cyclist. Using that bike does.


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Aug 14 2013 at 1:41pm #

Been trying to read this but alas, been hectic/busy.

Thank you for sharing!

I think SaraW is right on the money: The issues are just too complex within women, and something that needs to be both expanded, distilled, and re-focused, which can all be hard to. Within the Women population, there is a wide array of what women’s needs and perceptions are regarding cycling -more than probably it is for men.


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Aug 16 2013 at 10:21am #

I might think a half a percent drop would be within the margin of error, not statistically relevant and thus should not have been mentioned.

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