A ride where women outnumber men? That’s the fact at Cycle Oregon Weekend

Posted by on April 28th, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Cycle Oregon Weekend Ride-66.jpg

Fun in numbers.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the bike world there are a number of accepted truths. One of them is that there are far fewer women than men on bikes in America. You see this phenomenon play out on the streets when commuting or running errands around town. Beyond anecdotal evidence, the statistics also bear it out.

Female participation at large, organized event rides usually fares a bit better. But a ride where women outnumber men? That was the surprising fact I came across when doing some research on Cycle Oregon’s Weekend Ride (which is coming up in July by the way).

The Weekend Ride turns 10 years old this year and, according to Cycle Oregon’s demographic data, for the past two years women have accounted for 52 percent of the participants. When the event — essentially a three-day mini-version of the group’s more well-known Week Ride — first started in 2005, attendance by women was only at about 38 to 40 percent. Then, as word spread, it jumped to nearly half before tipping the scales in 2013 and 2014.

To put that into context, here are a few statistics about women’s riding at events and for everyday cycling:

  • Bridge Pedal is about 45 percent female.
  • The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation’s latest counts show that women make up 31 percent of local bike traffic.
  • Iowa’s famous RAGBRAI has a 38/62 female/male split.
  • On Seattle-to-Portland (STP), only 25 percent of the riders are female.
  • U.S. government statistics say that 24 percent of all bicycle trips nationwide are made by women.
  • About one-third of the riders on the Cycle Oregon Week Ride are female.

So, what makes an event like the Cycle Oregon Weekend Ride such a hit with women?

Portlander Hau Hagedorn has done the Weekend Ride several times with her family (husband and three kids). She says one of the keys is offering a lot of different route options that appeal to newbies and those seeking more of a challenge. And since women often shoulder more of the family-rearing duties than men, the Weekend Ride’s focus on the family really make it a standout.

Cycle Oregon Weekend 2009-28

Tent city.
Cycle Oregon Weekend 2009-49

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Cycle Oregon Weekend 2009-63

Go ahead and enjoy the ride…
Cycle Oregon Weekend 2009-43

… the kids are occupied at bike camp!
Cycle Oregon Weekend 2009-16

This woman loved the event so much she decided to get married at the 2009 edition.

“It’s extremely family-friendly,” Hagedorn shared. “One of the barriers for some women riding is that it can be hard to ride with kids. Cycle Oregon overcomes this barrier by providing day camps for kids. The kids develop better riding skills while the parents are out riding the course.”

The kid’s camps that run each day act as built-in childcare while mom and dad are out riding.

Amy Hunter has also done the Weekend Ride with her kids. She describes herself as a “non-roadie” and says the draw is not just the family-friendly vibe, but that, “It’s an easy, ready-made vacation.” And then there’s the camping. “We also always went with friends,” Hunter added, “and created our own tent city, which was super fun.”

Learn more and register at CycleOregon.com/weekend-ride.

— This story was published as part of a paid media partnership with Cycle Oregon. Read our introductory post here and check out past stories in the archives.

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13 Comments
  • Avatar
    Jonathan Radmacher April 28, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    While obviously not scientific on my part, it sure seems like the number of riders across the Hawthorne Bridge is just about equal men and women. Anyone else notice this?

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      Spiffy April 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      nope, seems the majority are male to me… but it seems there are more females of late…

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      • John Liu
        John Liu April 28, 2015 at 3:36 pm

        I agree.

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    caesar April 28, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I see more women than men on bikes around here, (or maybe I just notice them more). And for whatever reason, they seem to be the worst-behaved. Case in point: a female cyclist passed me (on the right!) this morning in the Pearl District, blowing through a stop sign where I was waiting (on my bike) for some peds to cross. This embarrassed me, as a fellow member of the biking community, given the dirty looks I got from the pedestrians.

    Another one: this week end a female in full race garb blew past me from a side street and ran a stop sign into nearly-oncoming traffic right before the Broadway Bridge westbound on ramps. She was really fast. Had I been on a nice crabon bike like hers I would have quickly caught up to her and shamed engaged her in a conversation about bike etiquette. But she lost me on her way to what was probably a criterium somewhere in the hills.

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      Clark in Vancouver April 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      You did nothing wrong. It was wrong of the pedestrians to give you dirty looks. They should not be blaming you for the actions of someone else.

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      Tait April 30, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Replace math with bicycling, and this is relevant: https://xkcd.com/385/

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    Mike April 28, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Why do you write about bike rides all over the State but no mention of the Monster Cookie?

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    Jmak00 April 28, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Uh, really, who cares? Not sure why it matters whether there are more women and than men on bikes or vice-versa.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu April 29, 2015 at 10:33 am

      More women = more cyclists

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    Christianne April 29, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for this article. Visibility and representation really do matter, because I never would have considered attending this ride before hand. And now I’m looking at the brochure, checking out the routes, and sitting here wishing I had more friends who ride.

    Some folks just aren’t comfortable in a strictly, or overwhelmingly male environment, and knowing that this ride isn’t one of those situations? It has me chomping at the bit.

    Day to day, I deal with the boys-club mentality in the industry I work in. I love my job and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but being the only woman in my department for 2 years was incredibly isolating. Being the only woman in a crowded bike box waiting for the signal to change, being able to count on a single hand how many other women I pass on the Springwater along the Willamette on my way to work, can sometimes feel the same way. It’s isolating. And sometimes downright discouraging.

    So having a specific space made for you and people like you, a space that’s welcoming and encouraging and caters to specific needs (like child care) is incredibly important. It says “you matter, and we want you here”.

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    Electric Mayhem April 29, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Here’s a good article I found about why women don’t bike as much as men: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2014/oct/03/the-reason-fewer-us-women-cycle-than-the-dutch-is-not-what-you-think-it-is

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    Marshall Guthrie April 29, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    As a City Councilor for Monmouth, and daily cyclist, I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone to the Cycle Oregon weekend ride. We have the best bike riding in the state, and we’re eager to show it off. For anyone attending the weekend ride, or planning to visit us any other time of year (there isn’t a bad day to bike in Monmouth), feel free to email me with any questions as you plan your trip: government@marshallguthrie.com

    See ya soon,
    Marshall Guthrie

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