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PeopleForBikes: Much of what we thought we knew about women and bikes was wrong

Published May 28, 2015

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — PeopleForBikes says new analysis of its research into American bicycling shows that many assumptions about women and bikes are wrong.

The study of women and bicycling used data from PFP’s participation study, released earlier this year. 

A total of 16,193 completed interviews were collected from adults 18 and older who reported on a total of 8,858 children ages 3 to 17. This sample provides an overall margin of error +/- less than 1 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Regarding women and cycling, the study showed that 45 million American women rode a bike outsides at least once last year, compared to 59 million men. The gender gap was considerably smaller than that shown by other studies; for example, the 2009 National Household Travel Survey found that just 24 percent of bicycle trips were made by women.

Of those 45 million women who rode at least once, 95 percent of them said they rode for recreation.

“Nearly two-thirds of women who bike, ride only for recreation. And among women who do ride for transportation, the most popular types of transportation trips, coming in at 68 percent, were related to social or leisure activities,” the study found.

In another result that went counter to some earlier studies and assumptions, the new report found that mothers are more likely to ride than women who don’t have children. This was counter to a a UCLA study from 2014 that suggested that women don’t bike because they need their cars to handle childcare responsibilities.

But the PFP report found that women with children ride at a higher rate than those without (32 percent versus 19 percent). Dads ride more than childless men, too: 47 percent of those with children rode at least once, compared to 31 percent of those without.

While the gender gap on bicycle participating is smaller than expected, it’s clear that women remain disproportionately represented in some areas of cycling. For example, the PFP noted, only 14 percent of licensed racers in the U.S. are women.

“Women are more often outside of the core of bicycle enthusiasts, and strategies to get them riding should keep that in mind,” the PFP said.

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