Out of the Spinning class, on to the tarmac

Today's City Room post on the lack of female urban cyclists in New York got me thinking about a comment I received on my earlier post about the possible causes of the biking gender gap.
Peter Smith of Google Map's Bike There had suggested I check out the research of John Pucher, the Rutgers Professor referenced in the City Room post whose research shows that men make three times as many trips by bicycle than women in the United States.
Peter steered me towards video clip from a presentation that Pucher gave at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University in May 2008, where he talks with great enthusiasm about the number of female cyclists in Denmark and other parts of Europe and how the research clearly shows that if you create safer biking facilities, more women will bike.
I'm starting to think the whole argument about women not biking because they can't be fashionable is baloney. First of all, it's easy to be fashionable and bike. As Barbara Ross points out in City Room, "riding to work in heels is easier than walking...". Secondly, having to wear "unfashionable" clothing to go to the gym or a yoga class doesn't seem to dissuade a disproportionate number of my gender from participating in those activities. Saying that women's fashion sense is the reason there are so few female cyclists seems like an easy way to deflect responsibility for improving our biking infrastructure so that we reduce the real physical danger bicyclists face when they are forced to share the roadways with irresponsible and aggressive drivers.
I have faith that as advocates from across the country continue to win bicycle infrastructure improvements, more women will start biking. Data from the 2001 National Household Transportation Survey shows that on average, women's daily trips are "notably" shorter than men's. Shorter trips are easier to bike. Once our roads feel safe enough, I think we could see even more women on bikes then men. I'm also hopeful because every Spinning class I've been in has been disproportionately female. When I get angry about how few women are on the road, I look at all my sisters pedaling away in the gym and hope that some day, they'll feel safe enough to hit some real pavement.

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