SciAm has a piece in the October issue which argues that US cities are not particularly bicycle-friendly, and that even in the most so, male cyclists far outnumber females. The reasoning:
Women are considered an “indicator species” for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding. Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means these bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference.
Bike Pittsburgh has been running the numbers for the 60 largest US cities, and only 20 have even 1 percent of commuters on bicycles. Portland, at 6 percent, has the most. But even in Portland, there are half again as many men as women on wheels.
Near the bottom of the top 60 is Oklahoma City, ranked 56th, with a whole 0.2 percent of commuters on bicycles: 0.3 percent of men, 0.1 percent of women. Dallas finished dead last, as anyone who has ever driven there can probably understand; Tulsa finished 43rd overall, though it’s tied for 22nd for women. (Among women only, OKC rises to a tie for 37th.) It might be useful for our Trails people to see what Tulsa is doing to promote cycling. And SciAm notes:
In the U.S., most cycling facilities consist of on-street bike lanes, which require riding in vehicle-clogged traffic, notes John Pucher, a professor of urban planning at Rutgers University and longtime bike scholar. And when cities do install traffic-protected off-street bike paths, they are almost always along rivers and parks rather than along routes leading “to the supermarket, the school, the day care center,” Pucher says.
Assuming, of course, they’ll even let you ride to school.