Small actions to bridge the gender gap in bicycle use

In recent years cycling has increased in a relevant way. However, the gender gap is still evident concerning transport modes.

Cycling Friendly Mobility is committed to reducing the gender gap in bicyclemobility. In this sense, we echo the Girl on the Bike project. Erkuden Almagro created a project in 2014. She highlights her commitment to increasing women’s confidence and how to enjoy cycling:

What inspired you to create the female biking community? What are your values? Tell us about women riding a bicycle and how to be part of your bike community.

That basically means bike sharing rides.

The community values are equality, respect, solidarity … values that we put into practice every day. We fight for equality in sports, in urban mobility … Respect, each one is different and we accept ourselves as we are. Solidarity, helping each other to keep on growing, as well as other groups that need it.

To be part of the community, you only have to subscribe the website and receive emails with all the proposals on activities, challenges, events, trips and courses that we organize.

What are the female bike association new projects?

Looking ahead to this year, the first path is returning to normality. Resuming the activities that we have been doing so far, such as the 100km road and 50km MTB challenges, urban walks, cycling mechanics courses, etc.

How do you see gender differences in cycling mobility in Spain?

Increasing women’s participation in cycling transport means, but there is still a big lack of safe road infrastructures. The weakest points, such as poorly lit parks, tunnels, the few segregated cycle lanes that give women confidence to ride a bike, etc.

What are the main barriers for women to ride a bicycle and what do you think is necessary to encourage women to use the bicycle?

Other than commented. Bike lanes, better lit areas, secure parking facilities … The workplace should also be committed and provide safe parking, even changing rooms with a shower.

The e-bike is a fact, many women already have one, but they are expensive, they cannot be parked on the street due to theft; too heavy to be lifted ……

How would you promote bicycle mobility among the population to reduce insecurity and gender inequality?

As already planned in many cities, such as in Pamplona, targeted adult cycling training programs, with an increasing female demand, cycling mechanics courses to make us more independent, and cytech training to be skilled and to feel more secure.

In Zaragoza, tailored safe work-life routes programs, to adopt work-related road safety commuting, for example.

Many women have been encouraged to put it into practice.

Small actions to increase women participation.

After the interview, we chatted about her impressions on women’s cycling. Interesting topics and reflections on the bicycle-woman pairing, the usage barriers and solutions to reduce the gender gap. Here are some conclusions.

Barriers and solutions to reduce the gender gap in cycling

Most women would like to cycle, but they do not feel safe and hesitate to ride a bike and feel intimidated on the roads. In addition, a lack of knowledge in bicycle maintenance or not knowing how to ride a bicycle past a certain age, creates a barrier. For this reason, the founder of the women’s cycling association told us that taking cycling routes together, mechanic workshops and initiatives to teach cyclingare activities that gave them autonomy, confidence and security.

Training and support actions to the higher aged group, with greater access difficulties and insecurity when cycling around the city.

Other social factors of gender inequality, are certain groundless roles. Men tend to make more linear journeys, from home to work and vice versa. Meanwhile, women make star pattern journeys, with several stops during their journey. This movement pattern creates some difficulty for women to use the bicycle in their daily trips.

Erkuden states that the “use ofCargoBikes, a very adapted bicycle, would allow them to move around with the bicycle and make several stops during the same journey. Although it is not a bicycle to use. Other countries, already use this bike type, but in Spain, we still do not have a change of mindset. However, if you want to slow down climate change and have more sustainable mobility, we should adapt”.

Gender biking harassment

We also discuss another barrier, such as harassment. A mobility study by the bacc stated that 48% of women had felt visually, verbally or physically harassed on some occasion while riding a bicycle.

This greatly leads to the choice of this mode of transport, the clothing used, etc.

As Erkuden said, “female biking draws attention ”but,“ it all depends on the perception that each woman has ”. These projects increase confidence, secure cycling together, on safe and well lit routes.

“Mujeres en bici” bicycle driving course. Image by Erkuden Almagro.

However, the bicycle is a means that can empower women to occupy their space and be visible. Although infrastructures must be improved, the creation of associations such as biking women, promote female biking mobility. The work they do makes them gain self-confidence to ride a bicycle and these, are small actions that keep us growing”.

We thank Erkuden for her kindness and selfless work to empower multitudes of women to use bicycles and reduce the gender gap that exists in this regard. Actions like this will undoubtedly help normalize this cycling gender gap.

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