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They Say We Need More Women Bicycle Commuters

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BikeShopGirl CommuteAcross the internet there is a buzz on an article that was originally posted on Scientific American. The article titled “How to Get More Bicyclist on the Road” hits again and again that aiming the cycling infrastructure around women that you will have not only more women on bicycles but more families and men.  Citing many reports and research done across the world Scientific American makes it seem that if you have off road bike paths that have more direct routes to and from places, than scenic routes, than you would have a stronger cycling infrastructure.

I agree, but only to a point.  Yes, I think women control a lot of household events and happenings.  If it was easier for me to get to the grocery store on a bike than my whole family would be doing it and taking my children to football practice or school.  All of these are right on the target with what researchers have said.  The point that I disagree is what happens if your errands are small, maybe you are a single woman or live more than 3.5 miles from the stores and work?

Most U.S women will not be going by bicycle for utility reasons if it is more than 3.5 miles and here is why :

1. It is very hard for a woman to stay presentable over 3.5 miles, especially if the terrain is not flat.
2. We do not want to be sweaty, to re-apply make up or to fix our hair for the second time that day.  Nor do we feel like it is okay to do that in the bathroom at work (normally.)
3. It isn’t socially acceptable to go by bike in most U.S cities.  I would argue that the culture and city life has to change, not only the way you ride a bike.  In Portland, OR or Boulder, CO it is the cool thing to ride your bicycle everywhere.  It has been taken in by the city with open arms.  If you move to one of those cities and you don’t ride you will be ready for a wide awakening.

Follow the buzz across the internet and add your own below in comments.

EcoVelo – An Indicator Species
TreeHugger – How Can You If Tell Your City is Bikeable?
VeloMuse – Recent Findings That Give Pause

About the Author

Bike Shop Girl has over 12 years of bicycle industry experience and hands on knowledge. Hoping to empower women and others on the bike so they too can feel the freedom and power that two wheels can give someone.

5 Comments

  1. The U.S is Not Europe, Can it Ever Be? | Commute by Bike
    5 Oct ’09 - 8:01 am

  2. The make-up and hair issue is not as important as the safety issues. Women cyclists are more vulnerable to attacks while riding bikes. Many cities are not safe for female solo riders, especially at night. Many women lack basic repair skills (fixing flat tires, adjusting brakes and derailleurs) which leave them at risk on the road and on trails. Safety is also an issue for female pedestrians. Cyclists, runners and walkers need to demand safe routes.

  3. What’s presentable? The blush of exercise beats blush from a cosmetic kit any day! As for being sweaty or having to “fix up” on arrival, that’s more incentive for workplaces to have adequate restroom facilities, even showers, for those who have strenuous commutes. Many workplaces already do–such as NextSpace, Santa Cruz.

    Not socially acceptable to bike around town? Wouldn’t want to risk being considered uncool, eh? Surely Baby Boomers who have broken new social ground all our lives can band together with the generations after us in demonstrating the coolness of cycling. The only thing socially unacceptable I can imagine about cycling would be ignoring traffic laws or being barely visible. In fact, be bold and dress in bright colors to promote safety–your own and that of the motorists and pedestrians around you. And be proud to be part of the increasing numbers of people who are cycling!

    As for me, I’d given up commuter cycling for too long and am back to it again, hence my “We’re All Heroes on This Bus: How Clark Sleeth and Ma Earth Inspired My Return to Cycling.” Thanks for your support, BikeShopGirl.

    • Yes, but we are talking “non cyclist” or 1/2 of my customer base. They don’t want to show up to work, coffee or whatever and look like they rode their bike there.

  4. I read some of your posts and was wondering if you wanted to exchange links. Great site.

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