RL Policar sent an article over from the New York Times recently titled “Women, Uneasy, Still Lag as Cyclists in New York City” detailing that fashion (loosely interpreted as disdain for sweaty back) and fear (of cars, buses, and rampant pigeons) are the top reasons why women don’t choose to commute by bicycle in NYC. A while back I posted a guest article on BikeCommuters.com dispelling similar Cycle Lady myths. Come to think of it, it seems that the top excuses for punking out of bike commuting apply to both men and women alike:
- Don’t Wanna Be the Sweaty Smelly Kid in Class (Who does!!?)
- Fear of Cars and Inadequate Bike Skills
- No Bike!
The New York Times article stated:
Despite the city’s efforts to become more bike friendly, male cyclists in New York continue to outnumber female cyclists three to one, just as they have steadily over the past two decades. Data tracked by the city and private groups shows the gap between male and female cyclists is even wider in areas where vehicular traffic is more concentrated. These figures lag not only far behind those in most major global capitals like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where women make up the majority of cyclists, but also behind American cities like Portland, Ore., that have narrowed the gender gap.
Personally, I feel that bike commuting is no more dangerous as a female than a male (or read: “as a womanchild than a manchild”) . On the other hand, if I were walk commuting around Kuhio Ave. dressed as “woman of the night“, that would be a different story… But as a cycling lady, I can definitely say that despite being a weak and feeble human, one who is not prone to “high-risk” activities or thrill-seeking – I feel safe while commuting by bike. To demonstrate my self-proclaimed feebleness: I don’t have tattoos (needles are scary, damn you tetanus shot! That crap hurts for days) since I have a low threshold for pain (known to consume over the counter pain meds from stubbed toe to minor ear ache like a bowl of cereal). Lastly, I have no desire to accomplish any of the following before my twenties are up: sky-diving, bungee jumping, paragliding, driving a motorcycle, or swimming with sharks or other prehistoric teethy creatures.
So what’s up with stats in NYC stating that women don’t like to cycle in traffic congested areas of town? I took the lane the other night on my short 4 mile trek home from Waikiki paddling practice to my house in Chinatown… yes it was dark…. yes it was raining… and yes some guy driving his family in a champagne colored Hyundai pulled up next to me to tell me what I was doing was dangerous and I should just stay home and take the bus. Maybe he thought that I was going to get attacked by meth addicts, run over by him or other cars, or overcome with a panic attack for being outside in the dark and not in a car. But, I – like many other Cycle Ladies – brave the streets day or night, rain or shine by bike; estrogen and shark week won’t hold me back! Why? You ask… Why Not! I say. Oh, and it’s fun.
Bike and bus commuting is up in Honolulu since the rising gas prices hit $4.45 in April 2011 according to this KHON story. Only stats I can compare are those in my office, which I have prepared a graph:
What’s the men to women bike commuter ratio like in your town? If you are a women, are you afraid to bike in high-traffic areas or to arrive at work as a big hot mess? How can we up the stats of fearless women bike commuters? In the meantime, to the guy in the Hyundai, I’ll change the batteries in my blinky lights just for you.