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A new comprehensive analysis of travel surveys from 11 countries across the globe reportedly found that those that do the best job of catering to the needs of women bicyclists also have the highest level of cycling overall. Also, the U.S. has among the lowest share of female-identified riders on the planet.
The team of international researchers found that in the Netherlands, women take 28.2% of their trips by bike — the top-ranking country. In pale comparison, the U.S. ranked second-to-last for both cycling mode share overall and for cycling mode share specifically among women-identified riders. People of all genders in our country travel by bike for just 1.1% of trips, and women choose their bikes for just 0.6% of theirs.
The U.S. city with the highest share of women riders is New York City. But while there are nearly 400,000 more women than men in the Big Apple, the city still has a 66% male ridership.
However, the Dutch aren’t the only ones whose success at getting women on their bicycles is connected to high cycling rates overall. The researchers noted “a strong positive association between the level of cycling and women’s representation among cyclists,” adding that “in almost all geographies with cycling mode share greater than 7% [of all trips,] women made as many cycle trips as men, and sometimes even greater.”
As StreetsBlog synthesized, what this means is that “when communities make transportation choices that successfully encourage women to ride, everyone comes out to join them. And when they don’t, most folks stick to driving.”
Throughout the report, the researchers referenced the many ways that women’s unique transportation needs shape their experience on two wheels. Women are not only less likely to ride on dangerous roads with little protected infrastructure than men, but they take shorter trips by bike and travel more often for reasons unrelated to a traditional work commute, like running household errands. As StreetsBlog speculated, “that may be because women tend to do a disproportionate share of household labor.”
And while the researchers didn’t find a similar association between high cycling levels overall and high cycling levels among all age groups, they did find a lot of children riding around on training wheels. However, Of the four U.S. cities that the researchers ranked — Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, and Seattle — none had a greater than 0.76% cycling mode share for riders under 15 years old.
According to the report, 82% of U.S. women have a positive view on bicyclists, and two thirds of them agree with the statement, “my community would be a better place to live if biking were safer and more comfortable.”
Recently, the California Assembly passed a bill that would make it legal for bicycle riders to treat stop signs as yield signs, AB 122. When approaching a stop sign, a cyclist would be required to yield the right of way to any vehicle already in the intersection, but not have to come to a complete stop if no other traffic were present. Written by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath, she has explained that “A.B. 122 uses this common understanding: if it’s safe to do so, a bicyclist [could] continue without making a complete stop. Studies show bikes already do this; this bill is needed to make it clear what is the accepted and expected behavior.”
Moreover, though Los Angeles has one of the worst reps when it comes to it being unsafe for cyclists, recent developments point to this slightly changing. Last year, the city took steps to become more bike friendly. And now, a new report published by LADOT shows more concrete signs of bicycling being on the rise in Los Angeles — or at least in locations near new safety and complete street projects. Reflecting data collected in 2019, the results of LADOT’s first biennial walk and bike count show a 22% increase in cycling citywide compared to conditions from two years earlier.