Women in cycling – literature

Another interesting journal article, looking at women in cycling:

Currently, there is an inverse association between being female and participating in cycling in Australia (only 6% of females could recall riding a bike in the past 12 months).   Travel surveys regularly find greater participation in cycling by men, then women.  Yet in many European countires (Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany), there are more females participating in cycling then men.

Why is this?  Is it just that, as a researcher has suggested, “women are just less interested in cycling”?  The answer to that one is no.  Cycling appears in the top ten women’s sporting activities (appearing higher than running, bushwalking and golf), and a survey in WA found that 37% of women expected to increase their cycling over the next 12 months.

So why then, can’t we translate this into more participation in cycling by women? The researcher  found that the main deterrants to women cycling were safety concerns (lack of safe cycleways, road safety and secure bike parking).   She states that the automobile culture is entrenched in Australia, and thus cycling is perceived as hazardous.  As women are more risk adverse than men, this has a negative impact on women’s participation in cycling.

Although she didn’t suggest concrete strategies for improving this (suggesting instead that further research was required), she did suggest that healthy policy change was certainly a good step forward.

It’s not that women don’t want to participate in cycling.  However, without the infrastructure to support it (cycleways, road safety and end of trip facilities), it makes it difficult for to have a safe and enriching experience.

Garrard, J (2003) Healthy revolutions: promoting cycling among women. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 14(3) pp 213-215.  Accessed online 19.8.2011 at http://www.cycle-helmets.com/women-cycling.pdf

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