This article is being linked to from all over the place. But, what is bikephopia? Is it a misspelling of bikephobia? Or, is it an invented word meaning a place where cycling makes you afraid? An antonym of utopia, when bicycles are considered?
Either way, Chantal Braganza at The Toronto Star, looks at the Scientific American article that suggests we make cycling more attractive to women to help get more cycling infrastructure in our city:
- Women in North America largely don't ride bikes. In areas where they do, such as Europe, there are more cyclists on the road overall.
John Pucher, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has studied this trend for over 12 years. He found that in Denmark, where 18 per cent of all commutes are by bike, women make up 45 per cent of cyclists on the road. In the Netherlands, where women cyclists are in a slight majority at 55 per cent, cycling takes up nearly a third of all commuting trips.
We Canadians, however, aren't doing so well at a 30 per cent bike share for women, and maybe a 2 per cent commute share for bikes. (The trend is similar in the U.S and Australia.) In Toronto, just 1.7 per cent of the population rode to work in 2006 – just 35 per cent of them female. But we're not the worst city, laughs Pucher. "In Dallas, Texas, 95 per cent of bicyclists are men. Which is disgusting!"
Garrard, meanwhile, explores the psychology behind the numbers – why most women refrain from riding in the first place. She surveyed Melbourne's cycling population by asking what situations kept them from the road.
"For just about every constraint we included in our item list," she says, "women were more likely to say it was a constraint. And these things included traffic conditions, weather, lack of time."
Sounds familiar to me. Though I'd have added fear of my face in the pavement.