What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

kwackers
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Postby kwackers » 19 Sep 2008, 2:53pm

Due to having a day off I only bothered climbing out of bed at 8:30 and as I looked out of my window I saw a sight that warmed the cockles of my heart...

A rather plumb lady cycling down the road with her two children in school uniforms cycling on their pink bikes behind her.

Given that I live on a road populated mainly by 4x4's and large Mercs it was even more astounding.

I've no idea how she was going to get the 3 bikes back mind you.

CliveA
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Postby CliveA » 19 Sep 2008, 2:54pm

In partial, but not total, agreement, CJ.

On one hand...

I agree that images of female cyclists looking 'normal' is the way forward.

In fact, I was browsing through a female friend's Grazia the other day (I didn't buy it - honest!) and there were annotated photos of the likes of Aygnes Deyn and Cindy Crawford riding around London dressed normally - as normally as supermodels dress, I suppose. The article even described where you could buy the same bikes as the celebs, and pointed out the co-ordinated accessories (HOW much for that tartan saddlebag?).

There's a guy on Flickr who (almost obsessively) photographs attractive bicycling ladies on the streets of Copenhagen.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/16nine/set ... 400316816/

On the other hand...

Don't forget the enormous power of aspirational images in advertising, like the Rebecca Romero one for the Powerade ad. These photographs are never intended to be taken at all literally. Maybe the sight of Rebecca Romero in the buff gives a powerful message that counters a stereotype: "Female cyclists aren't always sweaty hippies with bad hair - it is possible to be a cyclist and to be attractive."

Jules
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Cycling women

Postby Jules » 19 Sep 2008, 3:06pm

More women cycling could be achieved by more emphasis on the positive benefits of incorporating cycling into everyday life as part of the essential 30mins exercise a day necessary for good health. Helmet hair is a real concern of many women but also a handy excuse for not riding a bike - there are many good helmets and hair products these days which eliminate this perceived problem. It's a bit of a drag being female and a cyclist as it does necessite slightly more palaver than for men but it's palaver that most women involve themselves with anyway: make up, hair, clothes etc due to the pressure to conform to an idealized image of femininity.

I think good female role models such as Nicole Cooke, Victoria Pendleton and Rachel Atherton will encourage more women to cycle either for pleasure or sport -it helps to normalise the activity and it does help that they are both fairly feminine-looking off the bike. Comments about their tights a la Adrian Chiles on Sports Personality of the Year definitely do not help nor do comments about how "fit" certain female cyclists are a la previous posts - if anything, this will put women off. I speak as someone who endured years of being shouted at and worse whilst cycling in London in my younger days!

mhara

Postby mhara » 19 Sep 2008, 3:07pm

Hi Victoria,
there's lots of opinion floating round and not much progress so far.

We all know we are judged, compared and commented on morning, noon and
night - and that it damages the self-confidence of too many of us.
But that's the sort of society we've currently got, though those of us who are
determined, plus the great men who support what we're doing, are slowly
changing things for the better.

So we need -

a) a good deal of comprehensive information about how we experience our daily
lives - from us, not men.

b) a strategy that takes into account the perpetual monitoring/judging
of us and gets round such hurdles in a steady sensible way.
There's no revolutionary quick fix to this.

If the CTC means what it says and does want to understand how to
encourage more of us to cycle then you are welcome to come and
do some research in Exeter, where several conducive factors exist.

If you wish, please private message me and I'll explain the potential.

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bikely-challenged
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Re: What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

Postby bikely-challenged » 19 Sep 2008, 3:07pm

dan_b wrote:I have little personal experience from which to comment, and I'm male, so I should probably stay out of this one. But I did notice this point:
CTC Press Office wrote:women are three times less likely to cycle to work than men because they are put off by "helmet hair" and getting sweaty.


My insertion, my italics. I'm not saying these are good reasons or bad reasons, but in the context of commuting they do make more sense than if they were said about cycling in general.

Perhaps the emphasis on "reaching" these women should then be to promote cycling as a leisure or fitness activity first ("better scenery than at the gym, and no getting changed in front of strangers, and nobody's watching you and passing comment"), and let them acquire them the confidence on roads etc that way before they make the jump to commuting (next time the car breaks down or the tube goes on strike or ...)


No reason for you to stay out of this at all. I think you made a great point and I agree that more Women might start cycling if it was promoted as a leisure activity, rather than a method of commuting.

Cycling on the road is perceived as dangerous (like it or not) and MOST women are more risk-aversive than MOST men. Is that stereo-typing? Well, that's been my experience - sorry if it offends the feminists.
-----------------------------------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: The above constitutes my personal opinion only on any given subject. Other opinions are available.

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Si
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Postby Si » 19 Sep 2008, 3:47pm

a) a good deal of comprehensive information about how we experience our daily lives - from us, not men.


Why discount the views of half the population? Surely, it would be appropriate to insert a "just" there? You seem to be shooting yourself in the foot somewhat by assuming that there is a male view and a female view and neither can understand the other...thus all women think the same? A little insulting to both sexes. There is no reason why a man cannot put forward a constructive opinion on the subject, indeed, assuming that intellegence is distributed evenly then half the men will be more intellegent than half the women :wink: Going further down this street, should your opinion, as a woman who does cycle, be taken into account, surely it is only those that don't cycle that we should ask for an opinion?

No, let's welcome the views and ideas of all rather than just discard half the population's input based soley on their sex - a bit of a Victorian atttude, eh? I'm sure that those who are going to act on the information provided will be able to sift out the wheat from the chaf.

Thus, I'd encourage everyone to air their views should they wish to, without the worry that you don't have a right to an opinion because you might be male, white, middle class, what ever.

Let's face it, like it or not, the majority of those in power are men. If you decide to exclude them from the discussion then you are doing the cause a disservice. It ain't right but it's the way the world is.

reohn2

Re: What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

Postby reohn2 » 19 Sep 2008, 3:58pm

Among 18-34 year old women:

· 58% wouldn’t want to arrive at work sweaty

· 50% would be worried about getting wet in the rain

· 38% wouldn’t want to have to carry a change of clothes

· 38% say there is nowhere to shower at work

· 27% would be concerned about ‘helmet hair’

· 19% wouldn’t want colleagues to see them without make-up or stepping out of the office shower
Victoria


Just as I thought bunch o' girls,proper women put three hundred a week in.

When I was a Christian, the church I was a member of was always wanting to "save" people,the fact that people didn't want to be saved made no difference,"these people needed salvation" would be the cry.
They organised "missions",evangelical outreach meetings and no end of things to save people.
The problem was that if they didn't"believe"it was all useless.

The only Chistianity that worked IMO was example Christianity ie if people think, hey, thats a good thing to do, when they see people doing it,then they do it,if they don't they won't,end of.
Last edited by reohn2 on 19 Sep 2008, 5:12pm, edited 2 times in total.

thirdcrank
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Postby thirdcrank » 19 Sep 2008, 4:31pm

mhara

We could divide the population into four groups:

a/ Women who don't cycle.
b/ Men who don't cycle.
c/ Women who do cycle.
d/ Men who do cycle.

I'd be the first to accept that group d/ are not the best equipped to explain the behaviour of group a/ (which is probably why I avoided doing so above) but since the CTC is likely to be largely made up of c/ and d/ people it is arguable that the CTC is, therefore, not the body to comment at all.

If, on the other hand, if this is all down to the position of women as a whole in society, the the CTC is definitely not the body to undertake such specialist research and should not be afraid to say so.

(We could, of course, complicate this further by adding 'to work' to the groups, but I am not sure it would take things any further forward at all.)

mhara

Postby mhara » 19 Sep 2008, 4:41pm

Si wrote:
a) a good deal of comprehensive information about how we experience our daily lives - from us, not men.


Why discount the views of half the population? Surely, it would be appropriate to insert a "just" there? You seem to be shooting yourself in the foot somewhat by assuming that there is a male view and a female view and neither can understand the other...thus all women think the same? A little insulting to both sexes. There is no reason why a man cannot put forward a constructive opinion on the subject, indeed, assuming that intellegence is distributed evenly then half the men will be more intellegent than half the women :wink: Going further down this street, should your opinion, as a woman who does cycle, be taken into account, surely it is only those that don't cycle that we should ask for an opinion?

No, let's welcome the views and ideas of all rather than just discard half the population's input based soley on their sex - a bit of a Victorian atttude, eh? I'm sure that those who are going to act on the information provided will be able to sift out the wheat from the chaf.

Thus, I'd encourage everyone to air their views should they wish to, without the worry that you don't have a right to an opinion because you might be male, white, middle class, what ever.

Let's face it, like it or not, the majority of those in power are men. If you decide to exclude them from the discussion then you are doing the cause a disservice. It ain't right but it's the way the world is.


Calm down Si. :)

If the sentence you quote had been thus -
a) a good deal of comprehensive information about how we (as people with disabilities) experience our lives - from us, not able-bodied people

perhaps you will comprehend the intention behind the proposal?
Please don't go looking for slurs or insults when none are intended.

In my, almost always pleasant, experience of men they will give their point of view anyway and that's very much appreciated.
Chill, OK? :wink:

glueman
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Postby glueman » 19 Sep 2008, 5:06pm

fatboy wrote: A barber was amazed that I drove down a particular road "becasue I know how badly my mates drive down it"

An intimate and personal knowledge of slapdash driving is one of the main causes of resistance to cycling IMO. Those who say 'you must be mad to ride a bike' frequently drive in a manner that gives them good reason to think so.

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bovlomov
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Postby bovlomov » 19 Sep 2008, 5:18pm

CliveA wrote:In fact, I was browsing through a female friend's Grazia the other day (I didn't buy it - honest!) and there were annotated photos of the likes of Aygnes Deyn and Cindy Crawford riding around London dressed normally - as normally as supermodels dress, I suppose.


On a different thread today there is a picture of Elle MacPherson on a bicycle (I'm not making it easy for you. Find it yourself!). Let's ignore the child on the handlebars - Ms MacP looks perfectly normal: no helmet, no geeky cycling outfit, not a hint of an obsessive compulsive disorder.

These superannuated supermodels are better role models than all those gold medalists, because they are showing that cycling need not be the preserve of blinkered obsessives, fit dullards, or the socially inept.

Hats off to them! [...or helmets off, if you feel like it]

tonycornah

Cycling England's latest survey

Postby tonycornah » 19 Sep 2008, 6:05pm

It is good that Cycling England are putting efforts into getting women in particular
to cycle more but there are parts of this email that really worry me:

However, the survey results might surprise British cycling pursuit gold
medalist Rebecca Romero who proved cycling can be glamorous by posing
nude in a recent advert for a sports energy drink.

Fellow Olympic cycling gold medalist Victoria Pendleton also cast aside
her clothes for a cheeky cover shoot for the Observer Sports Monthly
magazine.

I was similarly concerned when the CTC released their promotional short a
year or so ago which included a shot of a woman pulling her shorts up: if
you really want to give cycling a good image then get someone like Mike
Leigh to do it - the opening credit sequence (just an incidental, not the
main film even) of "Happy Go Lucky" is far better than anything else and it
shows a self-confident, attractive woman enjoying her (safe) cycling - or at
least think about all the issues.

Perhaps there is some link between the media's interest in "glamorous ...
nude" and "cheeky cover shoot" type photos and women's concern about their
image and looks. I don't think the CTC ought to have anything to do with
purusing publicity of this sort.

righttorider

What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

Postby righttorider » 19 Sep 2008, 6:08pm

It's established (e.g. census information) that where more people cycle, the percentage of women in the total number who cycle is [b]higher.[/b]

Here in Cardiff, cycle counts show women cyclists at around 20% of the total number of cyclists using busy city streets - overall, cycling represents around 3% of traffic modes - but the proportion is much higher in places such as Cambridge, Peterborough & York.

So, there are limitations in offering a survey result that doesn't distinguish place from place, and it's instructive to look at the conditions where there's a greater number of cyclists - if you like, a critical mass of cyclists - to make cycling a normal activity.

I agree that it's danger, or perceived danger, that puts people off cycling on the street or road, and this is reinforced by cultural / peer group expectations. I think also that, for those who have given up cycling after training at school, or have never cycled, there's a real need to introduce them to adult cycling skills and to both the leisure and utility benefits of cycling. Yes, we do need activities that cater especially for returning women cyclists.

d clark
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Postby d clark » 19 Sep 2008, 7:03pm

I have recently returned from a cycling holiday in Bavaria. I was amazed at the numbers cycling. There seemed to be almost an equal balance between sexes.
In my opinion the difference is in the attitude of motorists towards cyclists and pedestrians. Everwhere there was consideration and politeness shown. Also the abudance of cycle paths and segregated cycle lanes hre in Bucks., I live within a keen cycling community which is desperate to have an off road path to the adjoining town as the only alternative to very busy roads.
The county and district transport officials just don't want to know. They are only interested sitting on their backsides waiting for their index linked pensions
:(
Del C

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jan19
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Postby jan19 » 19 Sep 2008, 7:23pm

I first read this report in my tea break at work - it annoyed me then and I'm just as annoyed now! Just how much were these people paid to produce a report worthy of our glorious tabloids? Do they really think women are so shallow as to put their appearance before any other consideration?

I ride to work, and I also go out at weekends. On my journey to work I rarely see another woman, although there are a lot of men. I ride along a busy A road with some provision for cyclists - but none in the places you really need it. At the weekend I ride along safe pavement cycle track and I see lots of other women who clearly are not worried about a bit of sweat. Conclusion : women are happy to cycle for exercise IF its not perceived as a dangerous occupation.

As for using Victoria Pendleton as a role model - nothing would put me off more! (No offence VP) Not in a million years will I look like her and if I thought a cyclist had to look like her I would never get on my bike. I was asked to do a blog for my local council Intranet after National Bike Week (which I have done) just because I'm the opposite to VP - middle aged, short, plump and decidedly unfashionable ( I own no Lycra) - the point being you don't have to be a gorgeous fit 20 something to cycle.

need to go and calm down now...

Jan