The amount of women on bikes is a key indicator of how bike-friendly a city is (there have been studies on it). The City of Portland Office of Transportation Options is well aware of this fact. They’ve got a Women on Bikes program solely devoted to getting more women to ride by helping them gain confidence out on the roads.
In fact, the City has partnered with Bridge Pedal to offer the first ever women-only start at this year’s event.
That all sounds great. But two things I’ve seen and read lately have got me wondering about what’s really going on out there.
The other day I noticed a lady on her bike at a stop light. She was just minding her own business when some guys in a van pulled up. They tried to get her attention and it was clear they didn’t just want directions. They were verbally harassing her and being generally lewd and crude.
The lady just ignored them and they sped off when the light turned green, but I felt horrible for her. She was enjoying her ride, then it was suddenly ruined by these rude jerks.
Then, I read this recent post in the Portland Bike Forums. In this case, “Erica” was harassed by some guy while biking. What started as an innocent conversation, quickly turned creepy and Erica ended up calling the cops. She was very shaken up about the whole thing. I think it took a lot of guts for her to share her experience online.
My hunch is that the above experiences are rare, but maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to hear from the ladies out there about your experiences on the roads. Do you often get harassed while you’re out on your bike? Do you think being on a bike makes you more vulnerable or somehow more of a target?