Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 28th, 2015 at 1:45 pm
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.
“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.