Bicycles and the Sexes: Explaining the Gender Gap Among Pedal Pushers

ID-100132824 by Sura Nualpradid
Free image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid

Research and surveys continue to show that men ride bikes far more than women – by a long-shot. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Why don’t women ride more often? Interestingly enough, there’s not very much information about why there’s such a disparity. There is, however, some research showing how to close the gap.

Households With No Bikers Tend Not To Bike

It should be obvious, but households with no bikers tend not to have any bikers. Does that sound tautological? Of course it is, but it’s an important finding if only to point out that there’s not always a gender gap in every situation. It’s largely contextual. If men have no history of riding a bike, they’re not likely to pick it up, and the older one gets, the less likely one is to change habits.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but it’s a rule for a reason. Now, once you move beyond this starting point, something interesting happens.

Households With One Biker Favor Men

When there’s just one cyclist in the family, that cyclist tends to be a man. This is according to a 2010 study called Travel Behavior Inventory, which is a collection of studies on travel patters conducted every 10 years by the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council.

Data is self-reported by 14,000 people, so take it for what it’s worth. But, out of that data, we see some pretty impressively consistent results. Researchers still don’t understand the causality for this effect, but it’s clear that men outpace women in this context.

Households With Multiple Bikers Close The Gap

Perhaps the most interesting part of the study found that households where there was more than one cyclist helped close the gap. In other words, when there’s more than one cyclist in the house, women tend to join the group and become cyclists themselves.

It could be that there’s a “peer pressure” factor where someone doesn’t want to be left out. It could also be explained by a family dynamic in which families tend to do activities together.

However, some speculate that it’s natural to see this kind of behavior because people with similar interests tend to stay together and get married. So, for example, if a man and a woman both enjoy cycling, this becomes a common-ground area where future values grow. Eventually, the couple may get married and they will continue to cycle together.

Interesting too is the fact that households that have children don’t necessarily stop cycling. This differs from research done in 2000 where it was discovered that a parent was only half as likely to pick up the healthy habit as a non-parent.

Of course, with more people cycling on the road, there’s an increased risk of bicycle accidents. This bicycle accident attorney has seen an uptick in cyclists, citing that, at least in California, there are more bikers than in any other state.

And, not all cyclists are safe, either. Combine that with the fact that motor vehicle use isn’t declining, and it’s no surprise to see the unfortunate marriage of these two – cars hit bikes on a regular basis and with devastating results.

Protecting Yourself Without Sacrificing Health

Does the uptick in accidents in some states mean you shouldn’t cycle? No of course not. It means you need to be safe about it though. In states where you are not allowed to cycle on the sidewalk, always use the bike lane, where provided. When there isn’t a bike lane, cycle on the side of the road, moving with traffic.

Always use reflectors on your bike, especially at night. Use reflective clothing too, since cars can easily miss you if you’re wearing black or dark-colored clothing.

If you have children with you, they should be in front of you, not behind. Ideally, young children will be with you on a bike that accommodates more than one passenger.

These bikes can be fun and they’re inherently safer than letting a child bike alone.

Bicycling is a healthy activity that allows you and your family to get out there and move – and, according to biomechanist Katy Bowman, movement is what helps keeps us young and alive. More than that, it’s essential for a healthy life.

With more and more people taking up some form of exercise, many researchers are hoping that this helps decrease the common illnesses seen in old-age, especially ones that are related to immobility, bone fractures, and a general sense of weakness.

Attorney Maryam Parman has been helping California accident victims fight for financial compensation since 1998. As a founding member of the Avrek Law Firm, she represents clients in a range of personal injury, wrongful death and insurance bad faith matters. For more than 15 years, Ms. Parman and her attorneys have won in excess of $100 million in settlements and judgments. There are almost no types of injury cases that she has not addressed, and her extensive experience allows her to maximize financial recovery for her clients time and time again.