Cycling Friendly Mobility is committed to inclusive urban cycling without gender barriers. Analysis of the gender-cycling-gap in female bike use.

Social revolution and the bicycle. In the late 19th century, the two-wheeler paved the way and meant en emblem of freedom and time changing power, meanstream in women’s rights and lives. A real Gender Equality Rights Movement The bicycle had become an huge cultural force to a transportation independence and to new views on clothes philosophy.

According to statistical studies of the bicycle barometer in Spain 2019, the use of the bicycle has become increasingly common among the population in recent years. Not only for sports use, but also for daily trips, such as commuting to work, to study spots or other leisure trips.

Although the gender gap in cycling mobility is narrowing, unequality still exists. Females are less likely to bike.

From that point of view, the gender gap has narrowed considerably, especially among adults (25 and 39) and the youngest aged (GESOP, 2019). Despite this improvement, inequality increases after the age of 40 as the age group increases (Figure 1).

Women Sustainable Mobility
Figure 1. Share of bicycle use by age and gender in Spain. (Source: Bicycle Barometer 2019).

The following graphic is an example (GESOP, 2019) of bike commuters by gender in Spain. It is observed that since 2011 the female cycling use increased, while the male cycling use is clearly declining.

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Figure 2. Statistics of bike use by gender in Spain. (Source: Bicycle Barometer 2019).

The gender gap is getting smaller

Although inequality is ageing (16.1%) compared to 2011 (22.1%), we must work towards a socially inclusive and gender-responsive cycling transport planning.

Promoting the bicycle as a daily means of transport, the increasing associations and initiatives to reduce gender gaps are key players to achieve and promote gender equality in biking transport planning.

Safe cycling environments should start in residential neighborhouds and not just in its urban center, so that cyclists feel safe and secure from the start to finish on their daily cycle trips.

Reduce inequality through more continuous and safe quality cycling infrastructures. Adapted to meet female needs and habits. This would improve bicycle accessibility and increase urban cycling. Making cycling for day-to-day transport safer and completely adapted, as non-cyclists do not feel safe or comfortable riding on the same road as the rest of the vehicles or on bicycle lanes that are not segregated from motorised traffic, nor without adequate lighting.

Gender differences in cycling mobility patterns need to be discussed in municipal mobility studies, implementing policies and solutions to improve equality for gender inclusion.

Facilitating and managing cycling mobility, will increase bicycle use. To respond to environmental health benefits, it is essential to consult the population, listen carefully, and specifically to the female voice.

Compared bicycle use in Spain to other countries

In the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, cycling to work is a means of transport frequently used in daily commuting and the number of users by gender is almost the same.

In Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where cycling mobility is relevant, female users are even higher than males (Emond et al., 2009; Garrard et al., 2012). The number of urban cyclists increases as the perception of insecurity associated with its use decreases, more common in female cyclists than in males. An adequate infrastructure of both protected bicycle networks and a high availability of parking facilities has increased the attractiveness of the bicycle among those groups most reluctant to use it.

Example should be taken of these countries, forerunners in sustainable cycling mobility. Only by acting can this gender gap be narrowed and a cycling culture fostered. It is essential that female users feel cycling safe.

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