On her bike : Why women won't ride

This replaces the previous forums at womenscycling.com.au.
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baudman
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On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby baudman » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 1:31 pm

Transport planner Rachel Smith writes: Last week my colleague told me that she was selling her bike. She likes the idea of cycling and has no actual hostility towards her bicycle it’s just, as she says “our roads are too dangerous for females”...

...women didn’t want to ride because of a lack of safe and dedicated cycle infrastructure, traffic fears, personal safety fears and topography. What Australian women wanted was complete separation from parked and moving cars...

...What I found was that each city had its own unique network of bikeways, but there were common themes including: 4.0 – 5.0 metres of ‘usable’ cycling space, complete separation from motorised traffic, a consistent level of service as well as high quality streetscaping and signage. All of the cycle routes in all of the cities were designed with cycling in mind — they were direct, quick and traffic free. They were lined with cosy cafes, enticing boutiques and townhouses with window boxes and above all they were beautiful...

...Back in Australia, it was clear that we had a problem with width and protection. We had cycle lanes but they were skinny, unprotected, on-road cycle lanes, on busy highways, often less than one metre wide. ‘Normal’ people — women, children, seniors, families, tourists — weren’t riding bikes and so in an attempt to ‘get more people cycling more of the time’, we were building more skinny, unprotected, on-road cycle lanes and not surprisingly the vicious cycle of people not riding was continuing.


http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/2011/ ... wont-ride/

I've gotta say, my other half does prefer her commute more these days, and that's largely due to the fact that most of it (time, and distance) is on the capital city trail. She finds the parkland she rides through quite cathartic... and is her 'self' time. Moreso than her old commute, which was largely StKilda Rd/Swanston St. Several of her friends have stated they would be more likely to ride if they had similar.

What say you? What's your experience/opinion and/or what have you heard from others?

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Keely » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 1:44 pm

That might be OK for some people most of the time. I would rarely use that sort of cycling infrastructure, unless it was the most direct route from home to work. Give me space on the road out of the door zone with drivers who are considerate, please. But I'm fine riding in traffic, claim the lane (maybe a little too often), wave at anyone who beeps, (they're just saying "hello", right? :roll:), just yell "hey" at those drivers who forget to look for cyclists, do hook turns and obey traffic lights.

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Weeeeeee » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 1:52 pm

My wife refuses to ride on the road, even with me riding a metre out to the right weilding a baseball bat and swearing at cars (ok...maybe THAT'S the reason she wont ride on the road :oops: )
But seriously - cycling here is portrayed as a dangerous pastime and that basically scares her. Even the prospect of riding through very quiet back streets to South Road with a 5m wide bike lane all the way to Beach Road where there is the dedicated bike lane is not good enough...and then this guy comes into the dance studio the other night with massive grazes down his arms from an accident he had ON THE BIKE PATH!!!

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Marx » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 1:59 pm

Bike ‘shared paths’ are just footpaths really. Off-the-road bicycle infrastructure in Melbourne is just an exercise in re-badging. That’s why you’ll be hard pressed to see shared paths wider than the 1.5odd metres, & they seem to start/stop so suddenly – mostly at pedestrian specific road crossings or just plain footpaths.

On road biking can get pretty scary. Personally, as a grown man, I still seek alternate routes to dodge certain roadways because they give me the begeezus. This is sometimes hard to do first time out or riding unfamiliar roads.

...Oh, my life partner will not ride on roads. The bike is strictly a casual Sunday afternoon thing for her at the very most. And I kinda appreciate her outlook on that, as I’m the only one in the family with life insurance & income protection.
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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby baudman » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 2:15 pm

For SWMBO, her bike IS her preferred method of transport. She has two jobs - one is accessible largely via bike path, and one is a 4km ride on a heavily trafficked road. She much prefers the former, but happily does the latter too. (If she wasn't happy, she'd drive).

But... I think the point is (and one that I've begrudgingly come to understand) that for some people, including what seems to be a high percentage, who choose to ride slowly, and potentially on more upright bikes, and in areas that are largely 80 zoned, or even narrow and 60, it IS a dealbreaker. The comments section of the above is (more) interesting (that many). If a focus such as this isn't pursued, then cycling will remain in the realm of a Sunday arvo activity (no offence intended, because I think it's a great family thing to do).

My concern, as always, is that this be the ONLY place we see the bicycle slice of the pie spent. Because there cannot be bike paths/lanes everywhere. At times, we all have to share the road.

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Euan » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 3:48 pm

Copenhagen did it, the Netherlands did it; they went from poor levels of cycling to high levels of cycling by providing high quality separated infrastructure. What makes Australia so different the same can't happen here?
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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby cyclotaur » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 4:44 pm

Years ago I walked to work a lot. I had a female acquaintance who refused to walk anywhere outside the front gate of her house as '"....the streets are unsafe for a woman...". She viewed every MAN on the street as a potential rapist and "...felt threatened..." every time she was out alone anywhere.

She based her view entirely on media reports of street crime and assaults. She had no statistics, evidence or personal experience of such, but just "knew" it was too dangerous.

Until cycling is portrayed more positively, or normalised in the public's mind, nothing will change with some people.
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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Canuck » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 6:21 pm

In my experience - limited to me and the (non-cycling) women I talk to about cycling (colleagues and friends):

Whenever the topic comes up, they all say the same thing:

DANGER! DANGER!
I'm too scared.
Drivers are too crazy.

No amount of reasoning seems to sway some of them, while others (again, this is just within my circle of colleagues/acquaintances/friends) actually do finally give it a go at some point - not all on roads, but at least getting on a bike.

But turning it on its head for a moment - not what keeps them off the bike, but what would make them get on a bike... ?? From those who do finally try it (again, in my experience with women in my circle of acquaintance), I've noticed the following patterns: besides me as a living example :P , they also have other cyclists in their life - partner, friend(s) or family member(s); it fits with their 'life philosophies' - e.g. for environmental reasons, to save money, etc; it has somehow become more convenient - e.g. they have moved closer to work/school, the traffic/tram alternative is hideous, etc; it has become 'cool' with the inner-city crowd - e.g. 'All my friends are doing it, and it's in the fashion mags!'; they want to exercise more/get fit; they want to lose/maintain weight. The latter is probably the biggest reason for those I've talked to about it.

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby pepe » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 6:33 pm

I'm with Keely. The road is a great place to cycle when cars are respectful, and really most are. I've been scared off bike paths. How can the beach rd bike path be considered 'safe' when there is a wall of bushes preventing any visibility of pedestrians, dogs, kids stepping out. Na, I'll take my chance with a moving car that I can see.

I started riding to work for fitness health, smaller footprint and petrol savings. Now I get grumpy if I have to drive (only took a few weeks to become addicted). BUT I'm starting to wonder if my fitness will be foiled by an off that leaves me permanently injured....I'd love to not feel like that, and I'd love all the women who do let the risk stop them to feel great about getting on a bike. I hate that women let ourselves be intimidated. Fight back. Claim the lane and your choices in life!

prob already been said, but my thoughts on motocentrism:

Moto-centrism
The road was made for the car.
Any other vehicle is an invasion of motorist's rightful ownership.
By the largess of the car, cyclists will be tolerated unless they interrupt the main motive of the driver - which is to get to their destination as fast as possible. That's a deal breaker and just one incident of delayed car travel entitles the driver to a lifetime of cyclist abuse.

so how to break this?
Something radical like turning a whole lanes of roads into dedicated cycling only lanes - no parked cars would make a big difference. Women men and children would start to get in the bike lanes - like that ad if you want to go in the bus lane, then catch the bus. BTW someone needs to figure out how to get massive heavy school bags on bikes. Then a lot more kids would commute.

This won't change the moto-centrism though. I'm thinking clear cyclist protection laws that are enforced would help (how about TAC makes the MOTORIST pay for the first $560 of a cyclist's medical costs after injury that currently the injured cyclist has to cop!?!), plus an ad campaign that helps to shift the assumption that cars rule.

happy riding ladies :)

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby roshea » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 8:42 pm

Today, a member of this forum that he got "hit head on by a couple of guys riding a small motorcycle on a shared path" in Ferntree Gully. Some injuries and a completely destroyed bike. This is not the first time that we (as in the forum "we") have heard of this type of incident on a shared path. I'm not saying that roads are safer, but the isolation and lack of policing on many of the shared paths presents some risks that are NOT present on the roads.
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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby wordnerd » Tue 05 Apr 2011, 9:36 pm

huh... marti and i were talking about this very topic on saturday as we headed home from black rock. i think i said something along the lines of a lot people think i'm crazy for cycling so much and marti came back with it's all about perceived risk. someone who doesn't ride a bike can't really know what the risks truly are or are not. personally i don't think me cycling to and from work is any more dangerous than me walking to and from the train station.

sometimes i think people let fear rule their lives. all i know for certain is that i won't be giving up the cycling any time soon, regardless of the risk.

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Euan » Wed 06 Apr 2011, 12:48 am

Just to round out a few points:

@Canuck, studies in both the Netherlands and Copenhagen have shown that the primary reason people ride a bicycle there is because it's the easiest and quickest way to get around. Environmentalism / ideals from memory came at bottom of the pile of reasons to ride a bicycle. From my own perspective that's certainly true for me too, getting around by bicycle is just so damned easy.

A friend's wife is arriving in country having finally gotten her visa sorted out; one of the adjustments he's going to have to make is transport options as his wife can't ride a bicycle and it will probably be a hard job to get her on one. He rides everywhere so now he's going to have to change that and use the trams (like me, he doesn't have a car, bit pointless in the inner suburbs). Hopefully we can get his wife on a bicycle :) but it's the same learned prejudice: cycling = danger. Doesn't help my friend face planted recently when his handlebars snapped :shock:

@wordnerd: Risk perception's a big problem. I don't know what to do about that, about the best I can do is portray cycling as the unremarkable and pleasant way to get around that it is for me. It appears I'm in the minority in these forums because most here have tales of woe and have a low opinion of other road users; myself I get on great in traffic but that's me and probably a product of the places I ride.

For the most part, cyclists aren't dangerous, they're vulnerable. This is not lost on the people we share the roads with; 99 times out of 100 if another road user acts with anger it's because they've had a fright; that fright being that they've come close to hurting another person. That's my opinion, anyway. The consequence is that they subconsciously transfer their inadequacy to `cycling is dangerous' and not `I'm dangerous.' How to fix that, ain't got a clue. Strict liability has seemed to work in other countries but that's not going to happen here.

I should get back to work :P
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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Helgirl » Wed 06 Apr 2011, 9:54 am

Euan, the danger perceptions in the UK would be far greater than here, less traffic & greater daylight hours...get him to take her down the beach rd path to meet some mates of yours for brekkie, you know the place ;) a couple of times and I'm pretty sure she'll be sold on the prospect...add in a pretty little bike & accessories such as the trendy panniers like Baud's SWMBO has and job done I think.

Most of the women I know won't cycle for the same reason they don't walk, swim or do anything other than watch reality TV...they think they are too fat to be seen in public and that excercise is a dirty word and can never be fun or enjoyable.

I have to say I have been commuting by carpool with my family lately rather than riding solo, but that means I can spend more time as a family all together & then walk home with the eldest which is awesome!
Cycling with the kids/OH & friends is possibly becoming my favorite way to spend a weekend especially if coupled with a swim & brekkie at a certain Beach Rd cafe YUMMMMMM :D

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby baudman » Wed 06 Apr 2011, 10:06 am

Helgirl wrote:...add in a pretty little bike & accessories such as the trendy panniers like Baud's SWMBO has and job done I think.


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Helgirl wrote:Most of the women I know won't cycle for the same reason they don't walk, swim or do anything other than watch reality TV...they think they are too fat to be seen in public and that excercise is a dirty word and can never be fun or enjoyable.

With some, the self-consciousness is another thing too, I suppose. The lyrca stigma? But for 'baudSWMBO', it's not exercise. It's transport (with the fringe benefit of exercise).

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Re: On her bike : Why women won't ride

Postby Helgirl » Wed 06 Apr 2011, 10:12 am

Oh hell yeah!!
I would NEVER do a tri, all those people looking at my fat butt in lycra or a swimsuit etc etc
How can you wear that stuff it looks stupid...

A bit the same as I could never/I wish I had the guts to dye my hair pink. Seriously it's just hair/another form of clothes.
SO much pressure to look how everyone does on TV or all be the same, it's pretty sad. At the same time understandable (sort of)
There is also the people will think I can't afford a car issue too (which happens too) and the MASSIVE amount of peer pressure from the mums at school gate crowd (which thankfully I don't have to deal with)


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