Closing the Bicycling Gender Gap: The Relationship Between Gender and Bicycling Infrastructure in the Nation's Largest Cities
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The percentage of trips taken by bicycle has steadily increased in the past decade. This increase has produced a substantial gap between men’s and women’s bicycling levels. Nationally, women make 24 percent of the trips by bike and account for a quarter of the bicycle commuting population. Certain locations with separated and dedicated infrastructure like Northern Europe have achieved levels of female ridership upwards of 50 percent. Studies in Portland, Oregon show that women respond positively to on-street bicycle facilities with a buffer from automobile traffic. Infrastructure may serve as an indicator of the quantity of women bicycling. This research examines the relationship between adults who bike to work and the quantity of lanes, routes, and paths in the 51 largest U.S. cities using data from the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s 2010 and 2012 U.S. Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Project. A stronger correlation exists between male ridership and miles per square mile of infrastructure than female ridership, however women’s data shows a positive correlation between change in infrastructure and change in ridership over time. Additionally, this research finds the strongest relationship between male ridership and bike routes, while female ridership shows a stronger relationship between bike lanes and bike paths. Gaining a stronger understanding of the infrastructure that leads to increased perceived safety among women can inform new safety and design standards that can accommodate all types of bicyclists. By understanding women’s safety perceptions and how to accommodate bicycling infrastructure to satiate these needs, the gender gap in cycling can begin to shrink.