What can we do to encourage more women to cycle?

Pete Owens
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Postby Pete Owens » 27 Jan 2009, 2:33am

George Riches wrote:We should realise that a lot of the general public call for cycle paths because, as non-cyclists, they don't realise how bad many of them in the UK are.


They like cycle paths because they are drivers and would prefer us not to get in their way. When local councils consult on their schemes they uften ask a question such as:
"Should cyclists be catered for by
a) cycle paths away from the carriageway or
b) cycle lanes painted on the carriageway."

They might as well ask:
"are you
a) a motorist or
b) a pedestrian."

The cyclists who respond - "neither, can you make the roads more cycle friendly" can then be dismissed as unrepresentative.

Pete Owens
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Postby Pete Owens » 27 Jan 2009, 2:59am

Si wrote:Most experienced cyclists prefer the roads because they are safer than the shoddy cycle paths that we have. We would mostly welcome cyclepaths of the quality that they have in more enlightened countries, but alas, despite copious efforts we have failed to get anyone to build such things.


While some other countries do construct cycle paths to a higher standard than the UK, this does not overcome the safety issue. they might have smooth surfaces, adeqate widths and be clear of street furniture, but the problem is how to tackle to inevitable conflict at junctions.

Whenever the safety of cycle paths is studied - even in places such as Holland an Denmark - they find that riding on the cycle path is less safe than the road.

At least in the UK we are still allowed to ride on the road.

atomheartfather
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Postby atomheartfather » 27 Jan 2009, 8:59am

despite copious efforts we have failed to get anyone to build such things.


the problem is that most of these paths are useless.


with the best will in the world you are never going to get such an extensive network of cycle paths.


I understand the frustration that comes from watching useless cycle paths being built in the UK. I live in one of the first Cycle Demo Towns, and have to constantly cope with this approach as our Campaign is consulted on proposals for new infrastructure. My point, though, is that cycling campaigners shouldn't just give up and accept this situation, and drop any interest in cycle paths. We all need to demand what is needed, however unenlightened our traffic engineers.

If we are consulted about new cycling infrastructure on a roundabout, for example, we call for a cycle ring to be built (on road, by the way), and not the usual stop and start semi-pedestrian cycle routes that we always see.

As for the general point about it being better on the road, and the dangers being only "perceived", yes, to some extent this is true (as with the perceived danger of mixing cyclists with pedestrians in shared space). But I suspect we are coming back to the difference between the idea of "cyclist" in the UK and "cyclist" in cycle-friendly countries. We start cycling at the age of 3 or 4. Are roads appropriate for kids on bikes? So where should they cycle? The only answer in the UK is the illegal one - on footpaths. Even more interesting is the transition from child cycling to adult cycling. At what age should kids start getting prosecuted for pavement cycling? And the killer fact: it is precisely in the teenage years that young people - and especially young women - give up cycling.

I am arguing that our idea of "cyclist" is highly imbalanced, and we are still desperately trying to define ourselves as equal traffic members, on motorised traffic terms. We are not. Cyclists are aged 3 to 103, and any infrastructure should reflect that fact. Yes, we want to make the roads we have to use today safer for cyclists. So Darlington Cycling Campaign argues for a blanket 20mph in town, an argument we are starting to win. But at some point we have to give up on our "useless" infrastructure, and the thinking behind it, and shout louder for "best practice" infrastructure by European, not UK, standards.

kwackers
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Postby kwackers » 27 Jan 2009, 9:06am

People who are anti-cycle path (and with good reason I might add) have valid points, but they don't address the problem.

Everyone I mention cycling to, or who is 'interested' but won't do it, always give the same reasons.

The roads are too dangerous.

When pressed they always come back to the same issue - volume of traffic/speed.

Getting rid of cycle paths may make the roads safer for cyclists but it doesn't decrease the perceived danger to potential recruits. Having cycle paths does.

Looking back through my local rags (Warrington), all the reported cycle deaths I can find happened on roads - not cycle paths or junctions with. These are the reports that potential recruits are reading.

Doesn't matter what the reality is, cycling needs to be seen to be safe in order to get people doing it.

George Riches
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Postby George Riches » 27 Jan 2009, 9:45am

Some people think the jewel in Coventry's cycling crown is the canal towpath, as there are no cars there.

Coventry Times wrote:Cyclist Attacked

Two attackers threw a cyclist's bike into Coventry canal before running off with £130.

The victim, a 25-year-old man, was cycling along the canal towpath [...] on Sunday January 11 between 6pm and 7pm. Two men pulled him off his bike and pushed the cycle into the canal before punching him and stealing £130 cash.

22 Jan 2009

Only a young adult male would be brave/foolhardy enough to cycle down a deserted path round the back of the dankest parts of urban Coventry. Safety is not just about cars.

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EdinburghFixed
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Postby EdinburghFixed » 27 Jan 2009, 10:27am

kwackers wrote:Doesn't matter what the reality is, cycling needs to be seen to be safe in order to get people doing it.


These are two separate problems - the reality of cycling, and the perception.

Cycling facilities almost without exception make the road more dangerous for cyclists *in practice*.

However to non-cyclists, the converse is true. The more segregation, painted lines, and "cyclists dismount" signs, the better. They feel catered for, and therefore safer, however untrue that may be.

The solution to the problem is not clear to me. But the contradiction is!

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Punk_shore
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bike design

Postby Punk_shore » 27 Jan 2009, 11:28am

Hello everyone,

Sorry if this subject has already been covered. For a female rider, does the bike need to be made more female?

We're talking individuality of graphic lines, 3-dimensional shapes and colours.

Kind regards, :roll:
What is the colour(s) of your cycle?
Which of its benefits would you recommend?
Please lookup the Bicycle Renewal Programme, linked to the website button beneath "Santa's Little Helper" cartoon.

james01
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Postby james01 » 27 Jan 2009, 6:17pm

EdinburghFixed wrote:
kwackers wrote:Doesn't matter what the reality is, cycling needs to be seen to be safe in order to get people doing it.


These are two separate problems - the reality of cycling, and the perception.

Cycling facilities almost without exception make the road more dangerous for cyclists *in practice*.

However to non-cyclists, the converse is true. The more segregation, painted lines, and "cyclists dismount" signs, the better. They feel catered for, and therefore safer, however untrue that may be.

The solution to the problem is not clear to me. But the contradiction is!


Well put. I've so often discussed this with reasonable, intelligent non-cyclists (or occasional leisure cyclists). Most of them genuinely cannot comprehend why we don't gratefully use every and all cycle facilities when available.

Vorpal
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Postby Vorpal » 27 Jan 2009, 10:12pm

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

It is difficult to draft survey questions that will not bias the result. What questions were asked in the survey whose results were linked to the OP? Something like(?):

If you don't cycle, why? Is it because:
a) you wouldn’t want to arrive at work sweaty
b) you would be worried about getting wet in the rain
c) you wouldn’t want to have to carry a change of clothes
d) you would be concerned about ‘helmet hair’
e) there is nowhere to shower at work
Or f) you wouldn’t want colleagues to see you without make-up or stepping out of the office shower

Is this someone's idea of a joke? If not, I am insulted by the patronising attitude and sexism implicit in this survey even without knowing precisely what questions were asked, or in what order.

And I'm surprised that no one else has commented directly on the probable bias of the survey questions.

Objectively, though, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask what we can do to get more women cycling. The answer is simple. Get more girls cycling. Teach them what is good about cycling, how to cycle safely and with confidence, and arm them with facts not fears. They will grow into women who are able to make a fully informed decision about whether and where they should cycle.

The same holds true for boys, or any group of minorities that the CTC might wish to target.

But please don't insult them with surveys.

Pete Owens
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Postby Pete Owens » 28 Jan 2009, 12:03am

EdinburghFixed wrote:
kwackers wrote:Doesn't matter what the reality is, cycling needs to be seen to be safe in order to get people doing it.


These are two separate problems - the reality of cycling, and the perception.

Cycling facilities almost without exception make the road more dangerous for cyclists *in practice*.

However to non-cyclists, the converse is true. The more segregation, painted lines, and "cyclists dismount" signs, the better. They feel catered for, and therefore safer, however untrue that may be.


That is because as non-cyclists they are not expected to use the things. of course if they are pedestrians they dislike sharing the pavement as much as we do.

The solution to the problem is not clear to me. But the contradiction is!


The solution is simple - if the roads are unsafe then do things that actually make the roads safer. Apply the hierarchy of measures, reduce the urban speed limit to 20mph, audit highway designs to ensure cycle friendliness, don't build large roundabouts or high speed slip roads, ensure that lane widths are adequate and so on.

Pete Owens
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Postby Pete Owens » 28 Jan 2009, 1:02am

kwackers wrote:People who are anti-cycle path (and with good reason I might add) have valid points, but they don't address the problem.

Everyone I mention cycling to, or who is 'interested' but won't do it, always give the same reasons.

The roads are too dangerous.


That is only because they feel the need to justify themeselves.

I often get into discussions at work - usually when people start moaning about congestion or petrol prices and point out that they are only bringing it upon themselves. When I suggest they consider cycling they will usually say the roads are too dangerous "if ony there was a cycle path..." - so I bring in the cycle map and show them traffic free routes virtually to their doorsteps - then their reasons for not cycling mysteriously change.


When pressed they always come back to the same issue - volume of traffic/speed.

So reduce the speed limits and actually make the roads safer.


Getting rid of cycle paths may make the roads safer for cyclists but it doesn't decrease the perceived danger to potential recruits. Having cycle paths does.


On the contrary, it is the existence of cyclepaths that fuels the perception that the roads are dangerous - and gives the council the excuse to ignore the needs of cyclists riding on the road.

Looking back through my local rags (Warrington), all the reported cycle deaths I can find happened on roads - not cycle paths or junctions with. These are the reports that potential recruits are reading.


There was a chap last year who rode off a cycle path into a ditch near Westbrook and died of a head injury - a few years ago there was one in Birchwood.

Have you not noticed how few cycles you see in the new town areas, which have comprehensive path networks, compared to the traditionally planned areas. A few years ago, for one of the LTP progress reports, the council surveyed the travel modes of people in the main shopping districts. I cannot remember the exact figures but there was an order of magnitude greater proportion of cyclists at Stockton Heath and the Town Centre than at Westbrook or Birchwood. They also regularly counted traffic on the radial routes into the town centre. The lowest proportion of cyclists was always found on Sankey Way.

Warrington provides strong evidence that cycle paths do nothing to encourage cycling - whatever people claim is their reason for not doing so.

Doesn't matter what the reality is, cycling needs to be seen to be safe in order to get people doing it.


Quite, and building paths gives the impression that the roads are dangerous - just in the same way that promoting helmets does.

Pete Owens
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Postby Pete Owens » 28 Jan 2009, 1:49am

atomheartfather wrote:If we are consulted about new cycling infrastructure on a roundabout, for example, we call for a cycle ring to be built (on road, by the way), and not the usual stop and start semi-pedestrian cycle routes that we always see.


This is a very very bad idea.

Drivers use road position on roundabouts to judge which direction other traffic is heading. A position to the left is effectively signalling an intention to leave at the next exit.

The idea was trialled at several roundabouts in the south of England and the trial was abandonned early when it became apparent just how dangerous it is.

A few years ago, following a CCN conference in Liverpool, the cycling officer there took us on a ride to show us some of the latest cycle infrastructure. She told us that John Grimshaw had visited and designed some of it himself. There was some good stuff (contraflow cycle arrangements on one way streets) and some pretty dire (dropped kerbs with wheel buckling upstands, door zone cycle lanes, cycle paths emerging onto the carriageway at blind bends). What she was most proud of though was a roundabout with a cycle lane painted round it. While she stood explaining it to us one or two braver souls actually tried riding round the thing.

This was not a busy roundabout, but a junction of four quiet residential streets on a Sunday afternoon, but we witnessed several near misses in just a few minutes. To her credit, the cycle lane has now been removed.

You are quite right to oppose the shared pedestrian farcility, but don't ask for an orbital cycle lane - you might actually get one. to improve conditions for cyclists the first thing to consider would be to remove the roundabout altogether. It is also worth asking them to convert it to continental geometry - see TAL 09/97:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/tal ... ontine4078

atomheartfather
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Postby atomheartfather » 28 Jan 2009, 10:22am

to improve conditions for cyclists the first thing to consider would be to remove the roundabout altogether.


Thanks for that response, Pete. Silly me, I hadn't thought of that suggestion :oops: . What we are both concerned about is taming the UK motorist, whose "king of the road" habits are the primary danger. I'll study the continental geometry. At last some reference to "best practice" beyond our little island.

Ru88ell
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Postby Ru88ell » 1 Feb 2009, 5:39pm

Another way that I've found to get women to enjoy cycling is to avoid them riding hand-me-down bikes from husbands. I had one today - a really nice but old MTB. Husband could see nothing wrong, but I could see straight away that it had a man's saddle, laid back seatpost and a very long stem. After 7 miles she had back and shoulder pains.

Husband says she can't have a new bike (women's specific) as there's no room in the garage. It's full with his seven bikes. On the saddle front he insisted that it was a good saddle. I agreed, but added that it was a good man's saddle. I suggested that he tries to cycle using a woman's saddle for a while.

I can guarantee that she'll pack in soon unless he spends some money.

tomw
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Holland - An example to the rest of the world.

Postby tomw » 2 Feb 2009, 4:21pm

In Amsterdam you see as many females cycling as males. I worked in Amsterdam for three months and I didn't see a single cycling helmet ! You see fashionably dressed women cycling. People go out in the evening on their bikes to the restaurant or theatre. You see women taking kids to school with 1 or 2 in a front carrier and maybe 1 on the back.

I believe it is partly because it is flat and therfore much easier to cycle without getting hot and bothered. Also there are cyclepaths adjacent to the road everywhere. Also Dutch bikes are designed for urban travel with large wheels, carrying capability and sealed chaincases. It is a great sight to see everyone from kids to old people of both sexes commuting to work.