Making bicycling accessible to all genders

by: Stefani Cox

woman bicyclingSource: Kevin G Saunders via Flickr.

While Women’s Bike Month might be over, the conversation about how to help women, girls, trans, and nonbinary people access cycling is always in evolution.

Seattle was the grounds for a conversation on bike gender inequity through a recent Crosscut article by Claire Martini. As Martini shares:

The #MeToo movement enables women to speak out about injustices faced behind closed doors. But injustice can also hide in plain sight, stemming from something as basic as the way streets are built.

Martini was concerned about recent Census numbers, which suggested that the percentage of women who walked or biked to work in Seattle was declining. She speculated that a male-oriented perspective for active transportation planning might be part of the problem. For instance, bike advocates must battle perceptions that women, maybe especially single moms, don’t desire to bike as frequently as men.

Adding to the issue is the fact that women of color often experience additional barriers to bicycling, and stigma may also be a part of the equation as well.

There’s evidence that protected bike lanes are the most effective type of infrastructure to encourage women cyclists. So cities concerned about gender equity might be well-advised to put resources into those developments, something that Martini references as part of a “gender mainstreaming” movement.

Bicycling certainly isn’t the only mode of transportation that is experienced differently by non male-identified people. It’s been documented many times that women often avoid transit to minimize risks of experiencing sexual harassment, as well as to travel more easily with children.

With intentional planning, navigating the streets through non-vehicular modes might get just get a little easier for everyone.

The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaborative between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write stefani@betterbikeshare.org.