International Women’s day has passed, but the amount of news, reports, and concerns facing women bike riders is still a hot topic.
There is a conversation that has been brewing regarding women and bicycles, and how to decrease mobility inequality. However, statistics are pouring-in showing an increase in the number of women that are beginning to ride. This is great news! Arguments have been made that this increase is the result of better infrastructure, protected bike lanes, women feeling safe, women coming out of their shells, women biking with their children, promoting better health, commuting, smart and practical transportation, cost savings, community support, better connected bike infrastructure, a decrease of sexism in the bicycle culture and industry, culture building, and seeing more women on bikes encourages others, etc.
This conversation was partially inspired by the video “National Bike Summit 2013: Women Are Biking More…How Do We Keep the Momentum Going?”
After watching this video I began to reflect on how I became interested in bicycling. Now, I am NO marathon racer, I’m a simple utilitarian cyclist. My bicycling journey began in 2006 when I purchased my first “adult” bike from a thrift store in California. That poor bike was stored in my garage for 3 years waiting to feel the wind blow past its chipped paint and rusted chrome handlebars. The reason it sat in the garage is because I didn’t feel safe on my bike. It wasn’t that I lacked to confidence to ride my somewhat questionably “safe” thrift store bike. No, it was because I was terrified of the streets and the drivers. Let’s just say, at the time, I was NOT living in a bicycle friendly community. Simply put, my fear excluded me from having a fun and healthy lifestyle for 3 years all because of the lack of infrastructure. For me, Tucson has been great because it does offer some safe routes. Since moving to Tucson I’ve not only gotten over my fear, but I have become a smarter bicyclist and driver, and have gained more confidence and empowerment as a women bicyclist. Because of my personal growth as a utilitarian cyclist, I believe that these realizations are important to the fabric of encouraging women to ride.
I know there is always room for improvements. As can be seen in Tucson’s current bikeability standing. However, the fact that Tucson made it on the list a encouraging to our future growth.
So the question comes up, “Are women more adverse to risk than men?” I would say, in general, yes. How can we combat this?
Tell us… what were, or are, your concerns when it comes to bicycling in Tucson or in other cities? What makes you feel comfortable and encourages your use of the bike?