Women serve as an indicator species for the health of a city's cycling scene; so says Scientific American in a recent article titled “How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road.” The author argues that because of factors like gender roles and risk aversion, the proportion of women riding within a city can help urban planners gauge the success of their strategies. The article reasons that female ridership increases when cycling routes are safe and practical, and this of course increases overall ridership. What a concept!

From Scientific American:

  • “Women are considered an 'indicator species' for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child ¬≠rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding. Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means these bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference.”

It would seem, as we work to get more cyclists on the road, we need to pay more attention to gender parity in an often male-dominated activity. What do you think, ladies (and gents)?

Thank you Suzanne for bringing this article to my attention!