Thursday, July 07, 2011

Women and bikes

Why don't more women ride bikes? That's the question asked by a recent NY Times story. And it's a question asked by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition: Why aren't women on wheels?  The answer is the same in New York as it is in San Francisco: women evidently have more sense than men. They don't feel as safe as the testosterone-fueled guys:

“Within the United States, New York is far behind in terms of the percentage of women cyclists compared to cities like Washington, D.C., and San Francisco,” said John Pucher, a professor of planning and transportation at Rutgers University who is working on a book about global cycling trends. “I’m convinced that one of the reasons New York City has such a low percentage of women cyclists is that it’s dangerous.”

Pucher is wrong about SF. I don't know about D.C., but the percentage of women cyclists in SF is pretty much the same as it is in New York: According to the City of San Francisco 2010 Bicycle Count Report, 72% of those counted were male and 28% were female, a percentage that has changed only incrementally over the years. But those percentages are a little squishy, since the report admits that "rider gender and helmet usage were not measured at all count locations from 2006 to 2010" (page 10).

With a higher percentage of women riding bikes in SF comes the inevitable consequence: more injuries to women cyclists. According to the City of San Francisco 2008 Bicycle Collision Report of Feb. 2010, 26.8% of cyclists injured in 2008 were women (page 31). That means that the percentage of women cyclists observed in the annual count must be pretty accurate, since 27% of the cyclists counted that year were women (page 11 of the Count Report).

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At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Your Neighbor said...

With a higher percentage of women—or men, or old people, or dogs—doing anything comes the "inevitable consequence". The more people there are driving in San Francisco, for instance, the more inevitable are serious or fatal pedestrian accidents.

You're grasping at straws, Rob.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not true about "fatal pedestrian accidents" in the city. Check out page 5 of the latest city Collisions Report, where we learn that pedestrian deaths have been going down steadily in the last ten years: 32 in 2000 and 17 in 2009.

But the topic of the post is about why more women don't ride bikes. Clearly most women think it's dangerous, and the numbers I cited show that they are right.

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that Leah? If so she needs a neck lift!!

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the topic of the post is about why more women don't ride bikes.

Many women are riding bikes. It's just that SO MANY men are riding bikes! Bikes everywhere, bikes bikes bikes!

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

17 pedestrians were killed in 2009? That's unacceptably high. How can we reduce that number?

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You need to read the report I linked above to learn what MTA is doing to make city streets safer. For openers they study every intersection where a lot of accidents happen to determine what they can do.

But, like injury accidents to cyclists, it's safe to assume that many of these accidents are caused by carelessness on the part of pedestrians, which is a lot tougher to deal with.


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