Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lifestyle and safety barriers to bicycle use

Writer Mona Chalabi raises an interesting point at lifestyle barriers and road safety are the most significant reasons that more women don’t ride bikes.

“When the Bikes Belong Coalition surveyed almost 2,000 U.S. adults, they found that women were twice as likely as men to report an ‘inability to carry children or other passengers’ as a factor that discouraged them from cycling. Convenient transport is important for moms, because they spend 3.7 minutes more per day than dads ferrying kids around.”

Lifestyle problems can’t as easily be fixed as a skirt-hem cycle-hack. But I don’t think the barrier is insurmountable.

Rather, bike manufacturers should accept the challenge of marketing to an emerging demographic: the woman who, instead of loading her children into a car or van, would prefer to ride with them to after-school commitments — each upon his or her bike — with athletic gear or other supplies in a bike-towed cargo trailer.

As for road safety, community planners should do their parts and ensure that safe bike routes are available. These could be a combination of bicycle paths that offer off-road right of way, dedicated lanes with bicycle signal lights and other traffic control devices and “sharrow” markings where separate lanes are not available.

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