Cycling in Sydney Australia
During recent efforts at recruitment for the Australian Cyclists Party it appeared that the ratio of men to women cycling the the SHB during commute time was very skewed - it appeared as 10 or even 20 to 1 at times. This was not a scientific sampling by any means but it was far from the approximate 2:1 ratio that the overall participation surveys would have one predict.
We are curious. Is this the sort of skew that you see as well among commuter cyclists? Or is there something going on with the SHB that exaggerates it (or did we get it wrong)? If the ratio is indeed so large, why would that be? Lack of facilities at work, safety concerns, aggressive male riders, other?
It would be good to hear from you and your experience on your own route. Perhaps take a count on your commute for a couple of days and let us know your approximate ratio here?
Its pretty much the same anywhere in Sydney. Note that the dutch experience is slightly above 50% female cycling population, ie women are not satisfied with onroad cycling on either convenience or safety grounds for commuting.
The presence of fast or aggressive male cyclists do not hamper population, the presence of fast, careless or aggressive car drivers between cycle infrastructure, start points and destinations is what reduces the female cycling population.
It has been remarked that commuting by bicycle in Sydney is more akin to an athletic event.
*cough* well, it does requires very specific sporting protective attire..... something like
Its because in modern times the arterial roads (which run along the ridge tops) are all fairly exclusive of bicycles, therefore anyone going any real distance is doing a lot of (unnecessary) climbing - and its all fit-self-selecting. That hasn't actually been true for all of Sydneys history either.
it is interesting to see how hard the current govt has worked to stop the greenway from happening, as it would be a relatively flat route into a high draw area for CBD workers. Would hate to have an uneccessarily flat and fast commuting route to the CBD - especially one that paralleled an awful tram service.
note that on flat terrain, on a quality path, being fast is a far less stark difference at least for things like relative speeds of overtaking etc. (a whole 15km/hr difference between very fast, and slow).
I too, wouldn't have thought aggressive male riders was a factor - but it would be interesting to hear from the women too.
SHB stairs simply sucks, I dislike having to push up my bike (or take down for that matter) at any time - even the carbon toys, and I've seen (and helped) families who struggle to deal with that piece of 'infrastructure' and personally avoid it at every opportunity. In fact I think if it wasn't for guiding overseas visitors over SHB, or getting to Chatswood from La Parouse, I wouldn't use SHB
Commuting-wise ; I saw a pair of matching bikes , they looked male / female models in the office building bike rack prior to Christmas. And pretty sure there are 2 commuting female cyclists parked in the bike rack that's located right outside their shower facilities. So a guestimate of say 1:8 if everyone came in that day?
Interestingly enough Omar, the Count Sheet for Super Tuesday for the 4th March has Male / Female / Not Known columns too.
Will have a closer look (and try not to be accused of being a pervert) the next couple of days.
Surveys we conducted at SHB steps on Ride2Work Day consistently showed an 80/20 male/female split.
A female friend of mine started commuting by bike last year across the SHB and said she felt more intimidated by other riders than by drivers. She has now bought a motorbike, though still cycles some days.
I agree with others that 4:1 is hugely optimistic from our - albeit limited - experience... R2W may be a special case? Anyway, perhaps others can confirm over the next few days what they are seeing?
Well, SHB is pretty bloody narrow. Any relatively inexperienced cyclist is likely to feel overwhelmed if they ride that in the commuter peak. The climb to the middle is not steep, but it's sustained, so novice riders are going to feel it, but experienced riders can hold a pretty high pace over there. Overtaking will happen, and it's not really wide enough.
It's bad infrastructure really.
I'm tempted to say the real problem is that when infrastructure is designed, they have one idea of what constitutes "cyclist", when in fact it's amazingly diverse. There are weekend racers, plodders, utility riders, e-bikers, cargo bikers, all sorts. And they all get crammed together into one narrow lane each way. Obviously someone's going to feel like they're at the bottom of the heap when it all washes up.
In reality there's no such thing as "a cyclist". There are lots of different *kinds* of cyclists, and they're not all compatible.
I did a completely unscientific count around 3-4 years ago as I rode home - against the stream for around half the trip (Macquarie Park to somewhere in the Lower North Shore) and then with the stream for the other (somewhere in the Lower North Shore to the Northern Beaches). It was about 40:1 then IIRC. Seems to be a bit of a better ratio now - Manly is certainly heaving with women riding bikes and as the cycle network has improved (even just painted lines) it seems as if there are more and more.
The SHB situation could be affected by the appalling conditions for cyclists going through North Sydney, esp north-bound.
And the male:female ratio could be even worse than you measured. One of the "victims" of your membership drive was my wife who only rides to work during January when traffic is at its lowest ebb.
Penrith to Auburn via M4, I see one female cyclist every month or two; however, along the cycle-way near Duck creek I usually see 1 or 2 a couple of times a week. For males on the same route there would usually be 5-10/day