Safety fears put women off bikes
November 22, 2007, 3:11 am
Filed under: commute, cycling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Age: Safety fears put women off bikes

THERE are twice as many male cyclists as female cyclists in Australia,
despite increasing rates of bike use, a nationwide study has found.

The Deakin University study found, however, that in Denmark, the
Netherlands and Japan, there is no gender difference — a fact attributed
to the higher standards of bike paths and other cycling facilities in
these countries.

The study’s author, Jan Garrard, said the international findings
challenged the assumption that cycling was a male-dominated activity, and
said the lower rates for women in Australia were due it part to safety
concerns when riding.

“In Australia there are still a number of barriers to making cycling an
appealing mode of transport for many people,” Dr Garrard said.

Improvements to bike paths, traffic calming and greater enforcement of
road rules would encourage more women to ride. The study also found women
were victims of intimidation by motorists, and some felt uncomfortable
about wearing cycling clothing.

One female cyclist said she had been harassed by men most days while
riding. “So now I ride in really daggy clothing and I find it makes a
really big difference,” she said.

Although cycling features among the top five sport and recreation
activities in Australia, cycling frequency — particularly as a means of
transport — is low by international standards, and there are substantial
gender differences.

Dr Garrard said women were more likely to collect children from school or
sports and make other short trips that were not easy to complete by bike.

Some involved in the survey said they had been criticised for riding their
children to school, with motoring mothers saying it was unsafe.

Helen Farrugia, 55, has been riding regularly for eight years and was
initially attracted by the environmental benefits of cycling. Now she
regularly rides from her home in Brighton East to Carlton and enjoys the
ride along the bay. She also rides on Saturdays with a female cycling

A car driver, Mrs Farrugia has encouraged some of her female friends to
take to the bike, but many feel unsafe riding in traffic.

“They enjoy the concept of riding the bike but they do not feel safe on
the roads,” she said.

“Women are mums and they don’t want to put themselves at risk and you
don’t want to get yourself injured. An injury can make it difficult for
you to manage a home and family.”


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I had a crash shortly after having my baby and thought I should quit riding. I always rode alone–mtb–it’s hard to find others to ride with, especially women. Instead I’m taking the time to network with other women to ride with. I hate the thought of giving up something I love, but as a mother I have saftey concerns. At least this way someone’s there trailside to call 911!

Comment by canary11

good on ya for being honest i wish people would just enjoy there hobbies and be left by the small majority who spoil peoples fun and enjoyment

Comment by craigdurkee

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