I had an opportunity today to speak with people at the US Department of Transportation that are involved in the agency’s efforts on gender justice policy. I put together a short presentation covering bicycling and walking. Here are some key points.
There is a gender gap in travel modes, but only for bicycling. From the 2017 National Household Travel Survey, we see that adult females make 52% of all trips. This is the same for private vehicles, transit, and walking, but only 30% of bicycle trips are made by women.
The gap is similar for children. And, there is a small gender gap for walking trips. The difference is not quite as stark when looking at the share of girls v. boys who bicycled in the past 7 days – 29% of girls did so vs. 34% of boys.
Safety is a key barrier. These data are from our 2015 survey of people living in the largest 50 metro areas in the US. When considering gender, it is important to consider both traffic and personal safety. Two key points: First, the gender gap regarding safety is for walking and bicycling and traffic and personal safety. Second, traffic safety is a bigger barrier for bicycling than personal safety. But for walking, personal safety is just as large of a barrier as traffic safety.
Women do not feel comfortable bicycling in places with more exposure to motor vehicle traffic. Only 10% of women say they feel very comfortable bicycling on an arterial street with a striped bike lane. Adding a protected bike lane helps. Slower, lower-traffic streets, particularly with traffic calming (e.g. bicycle boulevards), and separated paths increase comfort level more, but the gender gap persists in stated comfort levels.
Data Source: NAR®-PSU Transportation & Community Priorities Survey, 2015. Sample from the 50 largest metro areas.
That’s just a bit of what’s in the full (though short) presentation .