Where Are the Women? by Anna Sojourner

Take a bike ride on a typical day, and you'll count far more men than women. Why aren't women out there in the same numbers? I don't claim to have definitive answers. Here are a few generalizations just to get you thinking:

How many times have you heard this? "There are so many crazy people out there! You could get killed riding a bike!" A woman is more likely to take that statement to heart than a man. Unlike men, personal safety is the grid on which women plan their lives. Women fail to occupy bike lanes in the same way they fail to fully occupy all parts of the public sphere, and for the same reason fear for their personal safety.

Women are less likely to view themselves as physically capable than are men. Women are barraged with images that tell them skinny (read: weak) is good and exercise is OK if you're doing it to lose weight. Biking just isn't a natural choice to Americans, so the physicality is more likely to put women off.

Women are less likely than men to know about bike maintenance. We don't usually get mechanical training in childhood, and it's hard to come by as an adult. Add to that, general nausea that accompanies reading the non-stop equipment raves in Bicycling Magazine, or walking into a random bike shop and encountering condescending sales staff it's enough to make anyone flee. If you're outraged reading this, then you know that these fears are not grounded in reality. Nonetheless, these myths and others may keep a lot of women off their bikes.