Developing A Nation Of Women Cyclists

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2 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    Have them live in Portland, Oregon for a few months. I do get tired of the egotistical attitude of road bike cyclists versus any other kind of cyclist. If you ride ANY kind of bicycle, you’re a cyclist. It’s a very big ego that tries to own the word cyclist.

  2. Peter Clinch says:

    I wonder to what extent the sport-cycling sex imbalance is not so much about cycling, as about an approach to hobbies in general. I don’t think it’s an accident that the phrase “boys with toys” (as applied to adults) is specifically sexed: Enthusiasts (with a capital-E) tend to be men, and I think this is just as much true of cycling as e.g. fishing and golf, neither of which have the usual list of excuses for not doing it that is typically applied to cycling.
    If we look at our usual lab, NL, we see a roughly 50/50 split amongst cycling numbers (though actually more women cycle overall), but while I don’t have figures for the mix of wielrenners (sports cyclists, “fietsers” are People On Bikes) my impression while riding there has been most chain gangs are men. I don’t know why so many outdoor hobbies are male-dominated and I won’t try and suggest trite reasons, but it *is* clearly the case (I variously do/did climbing, caving, hillwalking, ski touring, XC ski, canoeing and kayaking, orienteering as well as cycling and they’re all men-heavy), so I think it may be the case that trying to cure sport cycling particularly of its gender imbalance by looking at cycle-specific issues won’t necessarily help. Whatever the issue is it applies to all these other sports-based hobbies too.
    As for women riding bikes as utility vehicles, I think the issue there is (just like women driving cars) once it’s Normal you’ll have an equitable gender balance. Making it normal requires a benign environment, physically, psychologically and socially, and that will get lots more people, of both sexes, out on bikes because it isn’t really gender specific. So many people, as in NL, that the Enthusiasts will become unusual rather than a significant proportion, and the inherent male dominance of that group will cease to be much of an issue overall. And I think if that happens, even if you’re still in a small field compared to the men doing a TT, the field will get bigger (as it is in NL).

    In summary, as I see it the big step is normalising cycling for *everyone* (men, women, boys and girls) by making it practical and pleasant and obvious to (almost) everyone that it really is practical and pleasant Once you have that you’ll find a lot more sisters in arms. I suspect to do that needs the sort of thing we’re seeing in Manchester at the moment: a combination of political leadership, local political buy-in all backed up by Clue and quite a lot of money. Without all of those (witness the lack of local buy-in by Westminster derailing plans in London)

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