APBP Launches New Initiative: Women Cycling Project
Over 13,000 Women Respond to APBP Survey on Women and Cycling
by Fionnuala Quinn, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
While it's an exciting time in the U.S. as many new bicycling projects are completed, American women continue to bicycle at much lower rates than men. In March 2010, women and girls across the country were invited to participate in an online survey about women and their attitudes and concerns about bicycling. APBP wanted to discover why women cycle less and what would encourage them to bicycle for transportation. We also wanted to hear from women who cycle regularly to learn how they can inspire and encourage others. The response was much larger than anticipated and serves as the impetus for an ongoing dialogue on the topic through the Women Cycling Project and the Women Cycling Photo and Video Contest.
The online "Snapshot in Time Survey” remained open through May 15 and gathered a total of 13,085 responses. Preliminary information about the survey participants indicates 69% live in medium to large cities 60% use their bicycles for some of their daily trips 44% had freedom to ride alone from the age of 7-10 years 13% do not currently own a car 80% have a college degree or above.
The women who responded that they ride regularly told APBP that they cycle for errands (82%), commuting (78%), socializing (76%) and while on vacation (93%). This group overwhelmingly indicated that they enjoy the exercise aspect of cycling (91%), being in the outdoors (88%) and that their bicycle store provides great service (70%). They also said that they cycled because it is an environmentally good choice (70%), saves them money (70%) and helps them reduce stress (73%). Weather was cited in many responses as a major factor that influences riding decisions. Women said that they follow the rules while biking as much as possible (88%), and told APBP that motorists don't see them (63%).
Among the entire group of 13,000 survey participants, the expressed concerns overwhelmingly related to drivers and infrastructure; we found only low levels of concern regarding factors such as clothes and appearance. Participants indicated that they have safety concerns about distracted driving (78%), speed of vehicles (69%) and vehicles turning right in front of them (61%). In terms of improvements in the community, 69% expressed an interest in adding more bicycle lanes, wider lanes (49%) and off-road paths (52%). Written-in suggestions on additional features included ideas for women-only bicycle and maintenance classes, better bicycle parking and lots of ideas for school programs.
APBP Executive Director Kit Keller comments, "I'm delighted with the very high level of interest in this topic. We're now working on the next stage of the project which is analyzing the tremendous volume of information and suggestions that we received from the community. We'll announce the results of our analysis at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike® Conference in September.” APBP member Mark Schulz (Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) and his student Anna Sibley are leading APBP's survey analysis.