The gender imbalance in cycling made the news earlier this week when analyses of bike share trip data from Chicago (Divvy), New York (Citibike), and our very own Hubway system revealed a significant gap in ridership among men and women. During the five month study–July 1 to November 30, 2013–women accounted for just 25 percent of rides among Hubway members, even though almost half of all members are women.
In other words, for every three men who ride, there is only one woman sharing the road with them. However, bike share systems have been lauded for helping shift the proportion of female cyclists by making biking more accessible, convenient and comfortable (no spandex or rolled-up skinny jeans required!). Women’s travel patterns often involve more trips and multiple stops than men’s; so Hubway helps makes these bike trips possible.
So why are women riding less? It may be that women tend to be a bit more risk averse. “Women tend to be more concerned about safety than men,” says Kim Foltz, Boston Bike’s Program Manager. “We know that many women want to bike more often, but they need some support and encouragement to become confident urban cyclists.”
However, many women already are taking to the bike lanes, especially as Boston continues to beef up its bike infrastructure, making is safer for anyone and everyone to ride. For example, Kathryn Carlson started biking to work as a means of fitting in her workout. “I started bike-commuting when I was working in investment banking, and the only time I would be outside was if I rode my bike to work,” she says. But we know there is a lot more potential. Simply look to Europe, where in Germany and the Netherlands female cyclists make up about half of all riders.
Above: Kathryn Carlson bikes almost four miles to and from work year-round from Central Square to South Station.
The city is taking this challenge head on with the launch of Boston Bikes Women’s Program, an effort to grow and support the city’s female cycling community. The program consists of a series of social events and learn-to-ride clinics that will be hosted throughout the summer.
The program kicked off last weekend with a Mom and Kid Ride in Franklin Park and will continue tonight with the first Women’s Bike Social. “Our Bike Socials are a chance to get out and bike with other women and enjoy the city. And we welcome riders of all levels,” said Foltz.
Since soccer fever is in the air, tonight they’re riding to Harvard Stadium to watch the Boston Breakers take on the Seattle Reign–you don’t have to travel to Brazil to watch incredible pro soccer! Your free ticket to the game is awaiting! Click here to RSVP and learn more about the ride.
If you can’t ride tomorrow, be sure to put the July 10th Boston Tasting Tour or the August 7th Farmers Market Tour on your calendar. For more information, and help to spread the word follow @Womenbikeboston on Twitter.