What is stopping women from cycling?

Tangled Metal
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Tangled Metal » 9 Apr 2019, 4:19pm

I've always been a cyclist but with periods of time away from it. For a few years I liked the idea of cycling to work but didn't. It took a cycling initiative by the government through funding for a cycling demonstration town, one of the first 5 set up. They did a scheme of cycling buddies. I got my recommended route and was allocated a Saturday with a cycling buddy to ride my recommended commuting route.

I didn't do it because their route took me right around the houses following a cycling route set up because it took cyclists away from the most direct route. This direct route was then left for motor vehicles I guess.

I got on my bike one Saturday and rode the direct route. I found it wasn't that bad so later the next week I rode into work.

Truth is my biggest hurdle to overcome was the lack of facilities at work. No showers, lockers or secure cycle storage. I'm sure that I'm not alone in the lack of employee facilities for cycle commuters is a big drawback. Afterall free car parking but no cycle storage. I ended up storing it in front of a fire exit that's not really used and out of the way. Just had to leave the bike at home when the fire service it other inspector was due to visit.

My partner thinks it's the traffic on the roads she rides that stops women commuting by bike. I ask her why it doesn't stop her. She has no answer. It has to be more than just the riding conditions on a car centric traffic system. It has to be a perception issue which is what I was alluding to when I explained it took years for me to pluck up courage to start cycle commuting.

Tangled Metal
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Tangled Metal » 9 Apr 2019, 4:23pm

BTW anyone read a sociological study on this matter? It's ripe for a sociologist to get stuck into this topic. Right up their street. I believe there is a lot going into cycling research among sociologists. Both male and female.

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby mjr » 9 Apr 2019, 5:02pm

Tangled Metal wrote:BTW anyone read a sociological study on this matter? It's ripe for a sociologist to get stuck into this topic. Right up their street. I believe there is a lot going into cycling research among sociologists. Both male and female.

http://thinkingaboutcycling.com/ and its links was quite a good source when it was running. Visit it now and see what you can find. It's already suffering from bit rot on some pages.
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Vorpal » 9 Apr 2019, 8:02pm

mjr wrote:
Tangled Metal wrote:BTW anyone read a sociological study on this matter? It's ripe for a sociologist to get stuck into this topic. Right up their street. I believe there is a lot going into cycling research among sociologists. Both male and female.

http://thinkingaboutcycling.com/ and its links was quite a good source when it was running. Visit it now and see what you can find. It's already suffering from bit rot on some pages.

There are quite a few sociological studies of cycling, mobility & related topics. There are also multidisciplinary studies that include sociology. A number of universities around Europe & the UK have graduate programs in related fields & plenty of research into such things.

Dr. Rachel Aldred, mentioned above, teaches at the University of Westminster and although she mainly looks at risk perception and transport choices, she has also studied at some sociological aspects of cycling, for example https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... 16.1200156

Peter Cox (University of Chester) writes about the sociology of cycling and has published some books, for example, Cycling A Sociology of Vélomobility and Cycling Culturesamong them.
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Tangled Metal » 9 Apr 2019, 9:26pm

Sociology is one of those strange areas that are multi - disciplinary in its own right. I know a few sociologists and their expertise takes them into many different areas from power distribution to health for example. Intel and the other big tech firms of America all recruit sociologists for direct employ and through universities.

So I've no doubt there's some working on cycling and matters affecting it. In fact I did get a few articles sent to me to read before now. I was just wondering if there's anything people have seen about women and cycling other than the person who's twitter was linked to above.

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby brynpoeth » 10 Apr 2019, 6:20am

Best never to leave one's bike in front of a fire exit, TM
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Tangled Metal » 10 Apr 2019, 8:37am

brynpoeth wrote:Best never to leave one's bike in front of a fire exit, TM

I worked the other end of the building. :wink:

Seriously, it had a fire exit light but was always locked and blocked by enough other things that taking my bike somewhere else really wouldn't have helped someone of they had to escape a fire that way.

Mind you no fire officer or insurance inspector commented on it probably because it was an ex van light truck, motorhome service / MOT centre so had great big roller doors front and back that were mostly open. Not a great place to work in for a few reasons.

And back to topic, not one female employee cycled into work there. Nor at my current place of employment. One did once but she was let go for various reasons. There is one part time female cyclist. She gets lifts and walks in bad weather but dry and not windy she's cycling. I won't get into her drivers for cycling but we can guess (workplace gossip).

Round here there's various utility cycling as well at a good MAMIL scene. The utility cycling is mostly men split into those who cycle commute because they like cycling and those who don't earn much and it's cheaper than buses or better than walking for an hour plus (latter group ride BSOs and some totally weird ones at times). The women tend to kit up after a period of consistent commuting. However there's one female anomaly. She's kitted up with clothes and better panniers but still riding a sit up and beg shopper (Halfords Pendleton or worse). She's actually fast on it now. Round town there's a fair few women cycling, is that the remnants if the CDT funding? However further out there are less my A6 commute has few female cyclists once you get out of town. My unscientific study of cycling indicates female cyclists don't like open road, long distances or possibly none of those. They are more prevalent in a town environment.

As to bikes, well women are more likely to ride shoppers or hybrids. Certainly flat bars, very few ride drops. Men tend to ride flat barred BSOs, mtb or hybrids but there's significant numbers riding drops. I wonder if more women cycled with drops they would be more riding longer commutes?

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby arnsider » 28 Jul 2019, 9:41am

"What is stopping women from cycling?"
Well, does it really matter?
Is there some moral or overwhelmingly social justice reason more women should cycle, or is the question just another pose calculated to highlight the inevitable differences between the male and female psyche?
It is what it is!

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby pjclinch » 28 Jul 2019, 3:40pm

arnsider wrote:"What is stopping women from cycling?"
Well, does it really matter?
Is there some moral or overwhelmingly social justice reason more women should cycle, or is the question just another pose calculated to highlight the inevitable differences between the male and female psyche?
It is what it is!


Cycling is good for people on a number of levels. If women are being sidelined from cycling more than men they're being sidelined from the benefits more than men. I'd say that does matter.

That it's some psyche difference isn't down to cycling itself (or more Dutch women than men wouldn't be cycling), but is very probably something down to the cycling environment and/or culture in the UK. If that discriminates against women (and it looks like it does), again that's a Bad Thing.

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Sweep » 28 Jul 2019, 4:07pm

pjclinch wrote:
arnsider wrote:"What is stopping women from cycling?"
Well, does it really matter?
Is there some moral or overwhelmingly social justice reason more women should cycle, or is the question just another pose calculated to highlight the inevitable differences between the male and female psyche?
It is what it is!


Cycling is good for people on a number of levels. If women are being sidelined from cycling more than men they're being sidelined from the benefits more than men. I'd say that does matter.

That it's some psyche difference isn't down to cycling itself (or more Dutch women than men wouldn't be cycling), but is very probably something down to the cycling environment and/or culture in the UK. If that discriminates against women (and it looks like it does), again that's a Bad Thing.

Pete.


mm

"sidelined" suggests some sort of active discrimination or exclusion doesn't it pj?

Can you suggest how?

Similarly, "discriminates" suggest some active anti force.

I must admit to being puzzled by what this might be.

I write this as someone who spent ages trying to persuade an Italian woman (in Italy) to cycle and indeed to cycle to work - all of about 15 minutes cycle away and very probably faster than driving.

Eventually I gave up so a female specific bike sits in Italy unused.

The final clincher in her not cycling to work was a discussion with a colleague.

Yes, this colleague was male.

But I very much doubt it was anything to do with "male influence".

More likely he gave her the out she was looking for, so I was told that she "had a machine" for getting to work. The Italian ubiquitous car of course.

More likely the real reason for not cycling to work was Italian concern about "brutta figura"and concern about what colleagues and pupils - male and female - would think.

I must admit although pretty right on I am somewhat dubious of this as a matter of concern.

My take on it, is cycle if you want, if you don't want to, fine. I will do what I want to do.

As for the "cycling culture", there are any number of different cycling cultures in London. As post-trendy I am part of none of them and don't feel the need to be - I just cycle. If someone, male or female, tells me I should be racing, should have coloured rims, should wear a team strip, should use drops, should ditch one or more of my brakes, I will ask them what their problem is.

I do wear lycra shorts for some rides - had always been wary but was persuaded of their merits by a female rider on a ride. It may have been one of the many rides I used to lead or may have been someone elses - can't remember.

I accept that the situation is somewhat different for certain ethnic groups.
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby RickH » 28 Jul 2019, 4:31pm

As this topic has been revived I will add something my observation.

Since the days started getting longer in the spring I noted that the majority of runners I saw out on the streets (mostly on the pavements where available) were women. I didn't comment at the time but that seems to consistently be the case as I've continued to observe.

We've also been taking a youngster for swimming lessons for a number of months & I've noted that the "population" of the gym at the leisure centre has a good proportion of women, no easy to discern majority either way.

If my observations are correct, the question may be more why are women not choosing cycling as often as other activities?

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby pjclinch » 28 Jul 2019, 6:19pm

Sweep wrote:mm

"sidelined" suggests some sort of active discrimination or exclusion doesn't it pj?

Can you suggest how?

Similarly, "discriminates" suggest some active anti force.


Not particularly something I meant. Compare the issue of women in STEM careers: it's not that science, technology, engineering & maths are systematically going out of their way to put women off... but something is putting them off (I imagine Vorpal will have considerably more insight than I do on this)

Sweep wrote:I write this as someone who spent ages trying to persuade an Italian woman (in Italy) to cycle and indeed to cycle to work - all of about 15 minutes cycle away and very probably faster than driving.


Here your sample base is too small. There would be little problem finding a man in any European country (including NL) for whom the same would apply, but having said that...

Sweep wrote:More likely the real reason for not cycling to work was Italian concern about "brutta figura"and concern about what colleagues and pupils - male and female - would think.


This is the sort of "passive discrimination" that will apply (I imagine) far more to women than men. Where you have a general cycling culture (as opposed to a sporting one) this is a non-issue, because Dutch women will generally not identify themselves with e.g. Marianne Vos when they ride to the shops and know that a simple, efficient way of doing the shopping or getting to work will not make them look out of the ordinary. It's no more of an issue than climbing in to a car is here.

Sweep wrote:I must admit although pretty right on I am somewhat dubious of this as a matter of concern.
My take on it, is cycle if you want, if you don't want to, fine. I will do what I want to do.


But as a (presumably) white male of moderate affluence in a rich Western country you and I belong to the most entitled group on the planet and there is very little between us and doing whatever we want compared to other groups. Such as women. Doing what you want to do is fine... but we can't assume it's just as easy for anyone else.

Sweep wrote:As for the "cycling culture", there are any number of different cycling cultures in London. As post-trendy I am part of none of them and don't feel the need to be - I just cycle. If someone, male or female, tells me I should be racing, should have coloured rims, should wear a team strip, should use drops, should ditch one or more of my brakes, I will ask them what their problem is.


The issue is that the UK does not include cycling in its general, default culture in the same way as driving. As soon as you get on a bike there's a whole pile of people who suddenly hate you, purely because of your choice of transport. UK cycling culture is predominantly sporting based, and that to a considerable degree makes it "macho" (IIRC "The Rules" used to say, "Man the [rude word removed] up", now they say "Harden the [rude word removed] up", and while it might not be so blatantly sexist it's certainly still rather macho). As to your asking people what the problem is, again that's easy for an entitled, enabled group.

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby arnsider » 31 Jul 2019, 12:39pm

Most of this is patronising twaddle and actually an insult to women.
They know fine why they don't want to cycle and it's up to them to fight their own quarter if they feel strongly about issues preventing them.
There is far too much virtue signalling coming from cyclists who seem to take the moral high road over a host of issues including sexism, keeping fit, road safety and environmental concern and this is reflected in the false concern the community shows over the number of women cycling.
If you look around and take off your blinkers, you will see that there is a growing number of women only groups who are self supporting and good luck to them.
Leave people alone to feel their way forward in their own time and in their own way.

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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby Sweep » 31 Jul 2019, 12:54pm

pjclinch wrote:
Sweep wrote:More likely the real reason for not cycling to work was Italian concern about "brutta figura"and concern about what colleagues and pupils - male and female - would think.


This is the sort of "passive discrimination" that will apply (I imagine) far more to women than men. Where you have a general cycling culture (as opposed to a sporting one) this is a non-issue, because Dutch women will generally not identify themselves with e.g. Marianne Vos when they ride to the shops and know that a simple, efficient way of doing the shopping or getting to work will not make them look out of the ordinary. It's no more of an issue than climbing in to a car is here.

Pete.


Not sure what you mean by passive discrimination.

And note that I wasn't trying to persuade said woman to race, just to cycle around.

As for being a "sample of one" - true - but the response was pretty typical for many of the Italian women I knew - hell it's hard enough getting some to not use the car for everything and just walk - are you suggesting that that is because of discrimination and fears for personal safety?

I fear you are possibly patronising women somewhat - it's not uknown for right-on folk to fall into this trap. And I am pretty right on myself.

As for discrimination, I assure you that it is perfectly possibly for Italian women to share the talents of some of their male fellow citizens for discrimination - casual racism, frequent appalling treatment of folk of any gender/religion/sexual preference trying to cross a zebra.
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Re: What is stopping women from cycling?

Postby pjclinch » 31 Jul 2019, 4:45pm

Sweep wrote:Not sure what you mean by passive discrimination.


Just accepting that What Normally Goes On is normal and thus okay, rather than inherently borken. For example, someone creates a super-cool looking website which is completely opaque to someone with a braille terminal, and that discriminates but not because the creator was going out of their way to exclude folk with braille terminals but because they just didn't think of them.

Sweep wrote:And note that I wasn't trying to persuade said woman to race, just to cycle around.


I don't think that makes any difference.

Sweep wrote:As for being a "sample of one" - true - but the response was pretty typical for many of the Italian women I knew - hell it's hard enough getting some to not use the car for everything and just walk - are you suggesting that that is because of discrimination and fears for personal safety?


I'm saying that an inherently sexist culture appears to exist that, in at least some cases. mitigates against women cycling. Fears for personal safety comes in more than one flavour, so there's the more universal being squashed, but there again for women we have e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2014/may/05/sexual-assault-in-the-saddle-why-it-sucks-to-be-a-woman-cyclist-sometimes

Sweep wrote:I fear you are possibly patronising women somewhat - it's not uknown for right-on folk to fall into this trap. And I am pretty right on myself.


It's possible, but it's a fine line to walk. I'd prefer to get it wrong and learn to do better than to shy away from the issues because they're a bit difficult.

Sweep wrote:As for discrimination, I assure you that it is perfectly possibly for Italian women to share the talents of some of their male fellow citizens for discrimination - casual racism, frequent appalling treatment of folk of any gender/religion/sexual preference trying to cross a zebra.


People of all flavours can be ghastly, but I suspect we're drifting somewhat from the point.
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