I’ve written previously about the issues involved in putting more women on bikes. There are many theories and studies indicating why women typically represent a fraction of the cycling population, but most of the findings make sense — from a higher risk aversion among women to greater responsibility for things like shopping and childcare. In general, women are considered an indicator in most environments — the more cycling-friendly a place, the more women who ride, with the ideal being women riding in equal proportion to their representation in population.
New data is out that indicates that Minneapolis has a higher percentage of female riders than the average — between 31 and 45% of riders are female, versus a national average of 26.4%. Theories as to why include the extensive off-road commuting options, such as the Midtown Greenway and other ‘commuter trails.’
The impact of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program — which in the current economic and transport climate is unlikely to be extended or funded to other cities — is also cited as a potential factor.
While the investments of the NMTPP and the bike route configuration in Minneapolis almost certainly plays a role in increasing participation, this only addresses the risk tolerance theories of why women bike less. The social and economic factors aren’t measured in this data, and I think discounting their impact on participation is risky, given the many studies about free time and spare time relative to women, especially women with families.
However, it’s nice to see Minneapolis with a high participation rate among the ladies.