John Pucher, whom I interviewed for this article here, sent me a copy of a new article he co-authored: “The Bicycling Renassiance in North America,” published in Transportation Research. Although the paper cites evidence of increased cycling levels, the authors also provide a few sobering statistics about gender and age disparities in the commuter cycling world:
“Almost all the growth in cycling in the USA has been among men between 25-64 years old, while cycling rates have remained steady among women and fallen sharply for children.”
Even in Portland, a national model–of course–women comprise only 33 percent of the the city’s bike commuting population.
I asked Pucher why the gender disparity–and the decline in riding among children. Here is his response.
“We can only speculate, as it is impossible to prove the reasons for the trends we observed. But I think perceived traffic danger is the biggest reason. I think many parents discourage their kids from cycling because of the traffic dangers they perceive. And trip distances to school have also increased with school consolidations, so there is less walking and biking to school.
My guess is that women are also more deterred by traffic dangers than men.
I think we see the big increase among middle aged men cycling because it’s become quite fashionable among a certain set, and men are less deterred by cycling in traffic than women.
I wish the demographic trends in cycling were more equitable and inclusive.”