Survey reveals depth of abuse women experience while biking

(Jonathan Maus – BikePortland)

“We’ll be targeted if we’re assertive… But cyclists need to be assertive to be safe.”

– Survey respondent

The most recent counts by the City of Portland estimate that only three out of every 10 bicycle riders are women and the gender split hasn’t budged since counting started in 2006. In east Portland, the City tabulated just 17% of all bike riders as women. As we ponder the reasons for this disparity, a survey has revealed one factor that’s causing it: the high rate of demeaning interactions and aggressive behaviors some women experience while riding.

A survey conducted in February by nonprofit BikeLoud PDX asked women to describe the worst or most common incident of abuse they’ve experienced while cycling. A shocking 311 out of the 329 women and non-binary people who answered that question reported some level of traumatic incident. The woman who led the survey project, Cathy Tuttle, analyzed the results and found that 229 respondents experienced a Level 3 Trauma (swearing, honking, catcalling, rolling coal, etc), 53 experienced a Level 2 Trauma (deliberate close pass, tailgating, menacing, etc), and 29 experienced a Level 1 Trauma (hit and run, throwing projectiles, aggressive stalking, etc) — the most severe category of abuse.

The vast majority of these aggressive behaviors came from people driving cars. Respondents said 88% of the aggressors were in cars, 7% were identified as homeless people and 5% were other bike riders.

In a summary of the survey results made public Monday, Tuttle shared several examples of the responses. I’ve pasted a few of them below:

A man screaming “get the f*ck off the road” repeatedly while I was cycling on a low traffic route downtown, revving their engine constantly and pulling up too close behind me. I finally got off the road, shaking and crying and called 911. The dispatcher told me there was “nothing we can do, it’s not illegal.” She didn’t want me to report the behavior, even though I had the license plate.

I had a driver stop to tell me that I needed a rear bike light so they could see me. I didn’t respond so the continued to verbally harass me. When the light changed they followed me and kept trying to yell at me. Eventually I came to park and biked into it so they couldn’t follow me. I was scared to bike for a while after that.

A woman yelling out her (passenger) side window “hit the bitch” after I pointed to the stop sign that they were rolling through when I had right of way.

Tuttle also included a longer response from someone who took the survey that is worth reading (edited slightly for brevity):

After he physically threatened me with his car, and after honking, I was told by a man, “I’m going to kill you the next time I see you” while I was biking — legally — on a typically busy (but not at all busy right then) 3 or 4-lane one-way road that has no cycling-specific infrastructure and doesn’t see much bike traffic, but which was at the time a crucial connector that I needed to be on to get across a freeway without going extremely far out of my way…

He didn’t yell it. He said it slowly, deliberately. I’ll never forget it. It wasn’t inflamed reactive rage; it was a slow, methodical, simmering threat. He looked right at me. I can still hear it many years later: I’m going to kill you.

I’ve had men in SUVs and trucks deliberately swerve into me, almost, but not quite, hitting me more times than I can count. This is a cross-Oregon problem, in urban, suburban, ex-urban, and rural areas, all of which I’ve biked in extensively. I’ve been called a dumb c—, a stupid b—-, and other misogynist slurs, again, more times than I can count. I’ve also been treated to yelling misogyny from male street joggers, who run in the street against traffic all the way to the side of the road, right where cyclists typically are… This is weirdly common in Portland, and they are often very rhetorically and even physically aggressive. I’ve also been in collisions with street joggers, and their dogs, and I, the cyclist, have always been the more injured person, so it’s a real problem actually. I’ve encountered groups of 3 men jogging with 2 or 3 huge dogs who are taking up literally the entire street and are very aggressive when confronted with a cyclist — me, one woman — trying to get to work.

Once I was biking to work in Portland with a male cyclist who was behind me, and a truck deliberately swerved into me at a high rate of speed to threaten me or worse, and the man who was biking behind me chased the driver down and yelled at him because he saw it all happen in a way I did not have the vantage to and he was pissed. The truck driver was likely annoyed by my male companion, who he encountered first, but didn’t do anything. Then when he encountered me, he became enraged and deliberately tried to intimidate me by swerving into me. If anything had “gone wrong,” I’d probably be dead now, due to the speed of the driver. Still have a pretty visceral reaction to light blue Leer-brand pick-up truck toppers to this day because of this decades-ago incident.

None of these described incidents are rare, aberrant, unusual, or even, really, worthy of note anymore, but they’re the specific ones that come immediately to mind with no thought at all, but that are representative of a whole problem. They happen ALL THE TIME, for seemingly no reason often. The misogyny comes out almost immediately, reflexively. I feel that if a female cyclist doesn’t preemptively display deference to motorists — of any sex, but especially male — they will be targeted, and if we’re assertive, then all the more so. But cyclists need to be assertive to be safe. Male cyclists too often seem like they’re not our allies (aside form the aforementioned male cyclist — this was actually a rare instance in my experience). The dismissive ‘male glance’ is real, on the bike as in all of life. I can distinctly recall men realizing another cyclist (me, almost 50) is behind them, at a red light or whatever, and looking back, only to discover a woman who is older than he is, on a not-interesting-to-him bike, with no interesting blingy gear on it, and have him turn away, barely able to acknowledge I was there at all. What was he expecting to see? A sexualizable object young enough to be worthy of his attention? Men are far more sexist than they can admit. As many jobs become more gender-integrated, men find new ways to assert their male supremacy. There seems to me to be a distinct strain of “biking everywhere with no infrastructure makes me a man” in the Portland bike ecosystem and it’s detrimental to a lot of folks, not just cis-gendered adult women.

We live in a deeply sexist society and misogynist backlash to feminist gains is observantly real across both dominant culture and most if not all subcultures. Women already experience this whether they have the interpretive lens to see it or not. Many women I know just don’t want to be extra-burdened by the physical and emotional danger of biking routinely for transportation, because they’re already burdened enough in a way men just aren’t.

The responses to this survey give us all a lot to think about and should add urgency to create a better cycling environment in Portland.

Tuttle based her survey on one conducted by the Women’s Freedom campaign in London. She said after hearing similar responses to their survey, bike advocates in London built an entire campaign around it with rides, petitions, letters to city council, etc.

What should Portland do to address this problem?

Read the survey summary here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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joan
1 month ago

Speaking of women not participating in the BP comments section: I don’t know if the men here commenting that they’ve experienced the same, or questioning if this is really sexism, realize that they are contributing to the silencing of women in these comments. A survey spoke to the reality women face while riding their bikes about town, and almost the comments are from men, very few expressing concern or empathy. This is part of the problem.

Yes, it may be that you have experienced similar behaviors. I also believe that women or others perceived to be more vulnerable experience higher levels of harassment. I think it’s easier for dudes to yell at us because they are less scared we’ll fight back.

I really wonder what it will take for some men here to, even if just for a moment, stop talking and starting listening and reflecting.

You’d think that this comment section would be an opportunity for women who are here to discuss and share their own experiences. But men’s voices are so loud and fast and prolific, there’s so little space.

You’re not going to get more women commenting unless you all start moderating more aggressively, perhaps occasionally having a comment section where you ask men to step back.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

It does seem that a lot of commenters took personal offense that the article wasn’t about them and their experiences and desperately attempted to make it all about themselves in the comments.

Cathy Tuttle
Cathy Tuttle
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

I wish this had been the comment pinned at the top.

callie
callie
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

I want to echo Joan and say that the comments on this post are a good example of the reason I as a woman don’t comment on my experiences on this site, despite having been a regular reader since about 2006. Another reason is the fact that the Assistant Editor of this site denies that I am a woman in the first place.

I moved away from Portland last summer, in part because of the harassment I experienced on the streets as a pedestrian and a cyclist. I have been called slurs (both conventionally misogynist and transphobic), catcalled, propositioned, threatened, followed, hit with sticks, intentionally splashed with rainwater. I have had garbage thrown at me, inhaled diesel exhaust because trucks decide to roll coal on me, and been forced to move out of the way of drivers intentionally trying to hit me.

While it’s true that many people have similar stories, my own experiences have been highly gendered – how else to take being called a bitch, a slut, and slurs related to my existence as a trans woman, or being aggressively sexualized by drivers in the course of their road rage?

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

It’s truly pathetic that a blog post focused on abuse and harassment of women is filled with comments from men that either dismissing the experiences of women or make the discourse all about how men experience cycling.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago

Guess I missed the part in the article that said “women only comment”. Obviously in my old age I missed that.
I apologize profusely for leaving a comment.

Steven
Steven
30 days ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Not seeing where WTLBCTOTL suggests only women should comment. They do criticize men who dismiss the experiences of women or make the discourse all about themselves. Kind of telling on yourself if you think that means you.

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
1 month ago

this kind of reminds me when it was all the rage for like a day for women to make their photos a black box on FB but then realized it was just blacking out women… if you turn on comments only for women, will men even read it to absorb what they need to learn? I doubt it but maybe I’m just being cynical…

stephan
stephan
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

Comment of the year!

Taylor Griggs
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

Thanks for this, Joan. I have nothing to personally compare my experience as a woman in the BP comments/Portland “bike community” generally to (I’ve never been a man), but I definitely have felt like my thoughts and perspective were dismissed in these circles due to my gender and probably age. That being said, I have also been shocked by how interested and supportive people have been about what I have to say, so I certainly don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. And it’s not like Jonathan and other men who write about bikes don’t also get pushback and hate.

In my experience, people who have been socialized as women are often hyper vigilant to small things, because they could lead to bigger things. This ranges from the “dismissive male gaze” referred to in the survey responses to a commenter’s tone that seems distinctly misogynistic, but in a way it’s difficult to describe.

It’s obviously good if these smaller things (I guess they’re known as micro-aggressions, though I must admit I don’t like to use that term) don’t escalate. On the other hand, it can be harder to get people to believe you when you only have somewhat “minor” experiences to report about your treatment. Sometimes I’ve found it preferable that someone just come out and say something really obviously mean instead of being rude and dismissive in more subtle ways. (There are some examples of this in the comments here, but I won’t name names.)

I said in the comments of Lisa’s article last week that I had problems with the survey, and I stand by my critiques. However, I think I’ve probably become so accustomed to certain behavior that it doesn’t even strike me as notable anymore. I also feel uncomfortable centering myself in any conversation like this (not that there’s anything wrong with talking about your own experiences, but my job as a reporter has trained me try to universalize everything). So I admit I probably have some blind spots. I’m glad this discussion is taking place.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Taylor Griggs

I definitely have felt like my thoughts and perspective were dismissed in these circles due to my gender and probably age. 

From my external vantage point, I always got the sense that people here responded very positively to your writing and comments. Not every person every time, but overall you seemed to get quite a good reception.

Negative comments land differently when they’re aimed directly at you, which may account for our different perceptions.

Taylor Griggs
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s good to hear, I also feel like I was overall very supported! I wasn’t referring only to the comments here. This is a problem within every community, I’m sure. I wasn’t trying to say I was unreasonably attacked. Most people are very kind.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

I really wonder what it will take for some men here to, even if just for a moment, stop talking and starting listening and reflecting.

For what it’s worth, my only previous comment on this post was adding to the chorus of perplexity about men being called out for being quiet and *not* interacting in certain circumstances. I listened, I reflected, and I was still confused as hell about what was actually being asked of me and other men.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  joan

Hi.

There is a lot I want to say but feel like I can’t word it in a way that will start an argument beyond your post gives a very ‘men need to shut up’ vibe.

That said? Let’s say the statistics were the same and make riders under report because cultural expectations demand a bottle it up approach. What is happening is beyond not OK. Especially the stalking.

People should not feel threatened or afraid just because they either choose not to drive, or in my case due to disability, cannot drive.

Then there is the implications of stalking a woman. They is far worse than stalking a man. Nevermind anything else.

These are people largely drivers, harassing and hurting people for… What reason? Why? What does flinging a coke can, or whatever at a cyclist price beyond lacking basic decency?

This needs to stop.

What hurts the worst is the 911 operator telling the lady that it’s useless to do anything.

Something needs to change.

Now.

Michael Schuller
Michael Schuller
1 month ago

I have also experienced all of the harrasment described in this article. On Monday a very loud, reving engine driver raced up to me, accosted me to “learn to ride a ‘f-ing’ bike”, and called me a jackass. This sort of aggresive assault from drivers happens to me about once a week. I am a male. Is this a gender problem or a driver aggression problem?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

Personally I think it’s a Portland thing. I lived in Portland for over 17 years (through 2015) and encountered driver hostility daily, particularly from SUV drivers, but also car drivers and even other cyclists, right-hooks, and so on (I’m a big guy). After I left town, folks out here in Greensboro NC are relatively friendly, I rarely get right-hooks any longer, honking is rare, and verbal abuse rarer still. Even during my recent biking in Philadelphia last weekend was relatively abuse-free compared to Portland, in a city that has a national reputation for bad attitudes.

In the 1970s and 80s Portland Oregon had a national reputation as “Skinhead City” and I suspect that nasty reputation lies just below the surface of Portland current “liberal” reputation for progressive transportation and land use policies – not only some of the same people still live there (or their kids and grandkids), but the same Oregon reputation for legalized drugs and lack of drinking water fluoridation is still attracting the biggest local driving assholes from across the country to move to Portland (and thankfully out of our other communities.)

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I spent more than 20 years of my life actively riding the Colorado front range, at times as far as central Nebraska and southern Wyoming. Driver aggression towards cyclists is not Portland specific.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

I agree, but I feel that Portland gets a lot more driver aggression towards cyclists than most other communities of a similar size and density.

Pkjb
Pkjb
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s definitely not just a Portland problem. I’ve biked in more than a dozen states. I’ve been harassed and menaced almost everywhere I’ve gone.

Eric NoPo
Eric NoPo
1 month ago

I think the point of the article is that on top of the driver aggression issue, women riders get to experience an extra layer of misogyny on top.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

It’s both.

I am a large, white male who rides a bike, and I’ve experienced all levels of trauma described in this article also.

It’s pretty clear that being inside a steel cage with hundreds of horsepower empowers the worst people to act out in the worst ways.

JM asks, What will we do about it? We – you and I – will do nothing. But once gov’t officials, police officers, and others with real power get on bikes and experience the violence as part of their daily lives, then something will be done about it. Until then, nothing will be done b/c the problem isn’t “real” to people in power.

J_R
J_R
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

“b/c the problem isn’t “real” to people in power.”

This is exactly the problem. It’s why we need to have more elected officials, high level administrators, and all cops and prosecutors experience first hand the joys of riding a bike and the bad experiences inflicted on bicyclists intentionally and through carelessness by motorists and others.

Jack C.
Jack C.
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Portland has a weak track record on crime in general, so harassment of cyclists can’t be expected to be much different.

Since the 2020 riots put certain criminals on a “justice” pedestal it’s gotten far worse. Leftist culture frames police as “fascists” while rude, sleazy people are simply rebels going about their lives trying to get high or make art.

stephan
stephan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack C.

It is both. I am male but my [female] partner rides bikes about the same as I do, on similar routes, with a similar riding style. She gets harassed easily 3-5x more than me. It is also worth noting that the framing of this article was about the low share of women cycling, so this article focuses on women.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago

I’m kind of surprised there were so few Level 1 and 2 experiences. Especially with some of the respondents saying they’ve been biking for decades. I’d say those happen to me at least a couple of times a year. Tailgating and deliberate close passes being the most common.

The most recent I can remember was actually from a bus driver on a greenway. He passed me on a hill so he didn’t see the cyclist coming in the other direction and ran us both off the road. I reported it and TriMet said they’d review the video.

I would put rolling coal and spitting at Level 2. I think they both qualify as assault.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Where do deliberate right-hooks and left-hooks come in on the levels?

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Oddly they don’t appear to be on their list but I would put it at a Level 2 since it’s similar to a deliberate close pass by using their car to bully a cyclist and push them out of the way.

Those don’t happen to me very often most hooks are when I approach a driver from behind. So unless there’s some other indication it was on purpose I chalk it up to clueless driving.

The last time I had one was a few months ago on the Hawthorne bridge when the driver was parallel to me and looked me right in the eyes as he cut me off to take the McLoughlin off ramp. He even checked his mirror as I rode behind him I assume to see if I reacted in some way.

blueeyedgrass
blueeyedgrass
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

It was an issue with the survey design. They had an open question asking you to explain the biggest instance of aggression or trauma on your bike. I think if they’d had checkboxes asking how often you experience X (weekly, daily etc) they would have had more level 1 and 2.

Personally, I was also frustrated by the format while taking it because it was pitched as a survey to get more women on bikes and then was suddenly asking me to describe trauma. It’s way more work as a respondent and there was no indication going in it was going to ask you to go into detail about traumatic stories. And even taking it you know that they are just farming for quotes. I agree with the survey goals and trying to raise awareness about the issue but I was pretty disappointed in the method.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  blueeyedgrass

It was an issue with the survey design. They had an open question asking you to explain the biggest instance of aggression or trauma on your bike.

If the people taking the survey had Level 1 or 2 experiences wouldn’t they have shared those instead of Level 3, since it specifically asked for the biggest instance of aggression or trauma? Maybe people were sharing their most recent ones because they were fresher. I agree surveying how often those things happen would have been better.

TwoWheelWonder
TwoWheelWonder
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Honestly as someone who responded to the survey, it was only now that I realized I totally skipped mentioning a “level 1” incident in which a guy stalked me through downtown PDX over multiple weeks by hanging out wherever my bicycle was parked! I ended up having to beg to take my bike inside places I normally couldn’t to shake him. A different survey design could have elicited this story from me; I just didn’t realize stalking was a possible kind of violence/story the survey was looking for.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’m kind of surprised there were so few Level 1 and 2 experiences.

Here in SE, it is very rare that I have any kind of negative interaction with drivers. I’ve read others here (male) who ride in the same area and report frequent incidents. My female partner experiences even less than I do.

It may depend on where, when, how you ride, your sensitivity, or just plain luck.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

It may depend on where, when, how you ride, your sensitivity, or just plain luck.

You’ve discounted my experiences in past comments too and it’s not appreciated. Where I most commonly ride is in SE specifically the Lincoln and Clinton greenways. How I ride is the safest way possible meaning I take the lane on those greenways. My sensitivity isn’t a factor it’s obvious when people are being purposefully aggressive. I’ve been biking for a couple of decades and it’s a regular occurrence I wouldn’t say this is a luck based thing.

Besides the two examples I provided above recently a person on Woodward tried to pass me at an intersection and had to come to a complete stop because a car turned onto the road right in front of them. Thankfully they didn’t try to pull back into me. They then proceeded to tailgate me for several blocks because the stop signs and speed bumps prevented them from being able to pass me before each intersection. The aggressive close pass when we came up to a longer block was pretty clear.

I don’t know if you have some magical way of riding but based on the comments here and many videos all over the internet your experience seems to be the outlier not mine.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Sorry — I suspect you would have interpreted anything that I wrote that expressed I had different experiences as discounting yours. Your experiences are your own, they are entirely valid, and you can come up with your own reasons why they may be different than mine, or not, as you prefer.

If you consistently have bad experiences and I (and my partner) consistently have good ones, and you discount the role of luck, that suggests there may be ways to avoid at least some of the bad experiences.

Ooops, sorry. I didn’t mean to discount your experiences again.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Good lord. This is why I hate commenting here. You have to have an opinion on every post and your experience and world view are the only valid ones. It’s not a conversation it’s you talking over other people. You make this space worse. I dread seeing your response to my comments because it’s always inflammatory and not honest in any way.

I didn’t ask you to tell me why it’s my fault I experienced L1 or 2 experiences I expressed my surprise why the survey didn’t have many. Other people suggested it was because of how the survey was poorly written. You however went right to how your experiences are more valid than mine and I must be wrong.

I thought about it since responding to you and one thing you said was probably true. When.

I would bet most of the people responding to this survey avoid biking at the peak abusive time that I experience. Evening rush hour and at night. So they might have less of those experiences. I assume you of course, being the prolific commenter here that you are, bike at those times so your comment is still victim blaming, shitty and not conducive to a productive conversation.

Your whole response adds nothing to the conversation. You’re just trying to win. I could show you video of these actual situations and I don’t doubt at all that you would find a reason for why you’re still right.

Also nice little bit at the end there trying to get a rise out of me. Really shows how serious you are about these comments.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I didn’t ask you to tell me why it’s my fault 

Your experiences are real and are just as valid as mine. I didn’t tell you it’s your fault. It’s the harasser’s fault. I may just be lucky, a possibility you discounted, but I don’t.

I’m not trying to attack you, and I’m sorry my comments made you feel that way.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

You are very fortunate. I have met people who have never had any negative interactions with angry or careless drivers, I think it’s just plain luck. It’s important to remember though that everyone has different experiences and it only takes one bad driver to change someones life forever

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Watts lives in a charmed world, where everything is black and white, and cars are operated by benevolent beings who always have cyclists’ best interests at heart.

I jest, of course, but one could be forgiven for forming that impression.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Agreed on every point.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago

“Many women I know just don’t want to be extra-burdened by the physical and emotional danger of biking routinely for transportation, because they’re already burdened enough in a way men just aren’t.“
That is a powerful summation to a serious problem! I’m very sorry you’ve had and will continue to endure this. When I was an/the EO Advisor for the Oregon Army Guard I was contacted by a research group who were interested in our case breakdown. It was an easy response, 100% of all the cases for several years had been gender harassment/raw misogyny. Fortunately the military system, while flawed has a legitimate way to address an identified problem and can even go to judicial punishment. Sadly the real world isn’t like that, but I wish it was.

dw
dw
1 month ago

I can distinctly recall men realizing another cyclist (me, almost 50) is behind them, at a red light or whatever, and looking back, only to discover a woman who is older than he is, on a not-interesting-to-him bike, with no interesting blingy gear on it, and have him turn away, barely able to acknowledge I was there at all. 

I don’t mean to detract from the point here, but what am I supposed to do in that situation? That’s pretty much what I do to anyone else I see on a bike at stoplights. Looks so I know they are there and then go back to paying attention to the road? I just don’t understand.

Eric NoPo
Eric NoPo
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

I had the same thought when I read this. I usually do a quick glance around me at stoplights just to be aware of my surroundings and I don’t really acknowledge anyone in particular when there are other cyclists behind me. I’m just trying to get where I’m going, not going to chat with you cause we’re both on bikes.

Other than that though, the first-hand accounts jive with my general experience of riding around town but with an extra fun (/s) layer of misogyny on top. I just wish there was more empathy out there on the road in general.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

Glad it wasn’t just me. I keep my head on a swivel to maintain my situational awareness, but I’m not trying to interact with anybody around me unless I know them already. I’ve been told I can appear intimidating, so I consider it polite for me *not* to unnecessarily interact with strangers.

In a litany of otherwise very sadly believable, relatable complaints about being accosted, this one about being ignored was a real head-scratcher.

Sigma
Sigma
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

This is the inevitable result of indoctrinating people with a victimhood mentality. They will believe that they are victims no matter what is actually happening. If you look at someone for too long, you’re an ogling creep, (“the male gaze.”) If you don’t look at them long enough, well, that’s insultingly dismissive, apparently due to your lack of ogling and creepiness (“the male glance” which I have to admit is a new one to me.)

I have no doubt that most women are harassed by men all the time, whether they ride a bike or not, but this person sounds like someone who makes it a goal every day to get offended by something. That level of pettiness really sours me on this whole story.

Al Dimond
Al Dimond
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

To me this sounds like the kind of thing where the experience of it is colored by other things she’s experienced… she’s probably been disregarded many times; it’s probably increased as she’s got older. And this might color the experience of noticing a quick glance when biking. All we’re supposed to do is build a better world where we respect and value each other throughout life; then each of these little things doesn’t have to carry the weight of all the other little things.

It probably doesn’t help that when we’re on the road our heads are “on a swivel” because we’re looking out for danger, not looking out to build community. Those glances really will be quick and cold. I hear a little noise, check over the shoulder, it’s someone on a bike, they’ve already stopped, I can de-escalate my sense of danger… back to the normal level of being in traffic, so I’m still kinda stressed and probably look that way. I don’t know about anyone else but when I’m not dealing with as much traffic stress I’m able to present a friendlier face when I’m looking around myself. So, again, all we’re supposed to do is build a better world… but maybe in the meantime, in this case, just try to look a little friendlier around other cyclists.

dw
dw
1 month ago
Reply to  Al Dimond

Thanks for the reasonable analysis. I suppose I should give a few more friendly smiles and fewer cold looks to other people on bikes.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Al Dimond

“You’d look prettier (friendlier) if you smiled”

Ses
Ses
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

I’m a woman and a regular cycling commuter. I think this lady just has a chip on her shoulder (and tbh including that quote here is strongly detracting from the overall argument). If she had been engaged in conversation, she might have assumed it was a come-on. I believe that she has had some genuinely bad experiences being dismissed in other parts of life, but it’s a stretch to apply that judgement to the interaction described.

I completely agree that cyclists generally have their head on a swivel for good reason. The interaction described is very common, very normal, and has nothing to do with her being a woman on a bike.

Champs
Champs
1 month ago

Survey reveals depth of abuse women experience while biking
Survey reveals depth of abuse people experience while biking
Survey reveals depth of abuse women experience

In other news: dog bites man.

Alas, these are all pretty much the same story, especially the first and last, just with decreasing anecdotal specificity. As a society we’re not doing well treating anyone well, or at the very least women equally.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago

And it’s interesting, I, being a male, encounter similar occurrences, speak about them in these forums/blog and I’m dismissed because someone else doesn’t encounter the same thing biking or while riding TriMet as if I just imagine it.
Very very fascinating that is.

hello.my.name.is
hello.my.name.is
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

It is an article outlining the concerning consistency of threatening, intimidating, abusive, and sometimes violent behavior experienced toward cyclists on the roads in Portland. It is also an article that underlines how the frequency, severity, and consequences of these experiences are compounded by misogyny.

As a cyclist, and as a cyclist who apparently has also experienced threats and abuse at the hands of drivers, there should be no reason for you to minimize the message of an article like this.

I would like to gently encourage you to consider prioritizing the support of your peers and neighbors over your own perceived victimhood on the internet.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

I remember that recent one–saying you’re not going to ride anymore after being threatened in a situation where you were unprotected, with no way out, then being told here that your decision was “counterproductive to the goals of getting more people out on bikes” was over the top–especially when you also said your age was a factor in your choice.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago

I have also experienced harassment like this. Things thrown at me, threatening to kill me, punishment passes, coal rolled, all things that have made me want to give up riding. It’s completely understandable these respondents report feeling scared to ride.

Too bad we don’t have a tax payer funded service that is responsible for ticketing or arresting dangerous drivers… we could even give them matching uniforms!

Jenny
Jenny
1 month ago

The hardest times are when I’m using a bike lane on a busier road (SE 52nd most commonly). Being sandwiched between fast moving cars and unpredictable people on the sidewalk has led to some scary situations, the worst being a man trying to shove me off my bike and into traffic (luckily he missed). I’ve had generally positive experiences on greenways; I appreciate having plenty of room to maneuver around, and that cars are discouraged from using them. I’m glad the city continues to expand that network.

Other factors I think would help are just too big to get done (regulate vehicles to be lighter and lower to the ground, make housing dense and affordable so people can have shorter commutes or stop driving altogether, bolster the social safety net to reduce violence). I can dream, though.

A person in the comments questioned whether this is a gender or aggressive driver issue. 100% of the traumatic experiences I’ve had were instigated by men, most were actually pedestrians, and whenever there was a verbal component, misogynistic language was used. Gender is obviously a factor here.

EEE
EEE
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny

Speaking of being sandwiched between pedestrians and cars, why was the speed limit on Naito recently increased from 20 mph to 25 mph? That just seems unwise and unsafe for an area sprawling with bikes and pedestrians.

maxD
maxD
30 days ago
Reply to  EEE

Great question. I suspect PBOT raised the speed limit because they are dedicated to serving cars. Bikes are treated like an exotic pet- trotted out to show off, and pedestrians are a mere annoyance, like taxes, that is to dealt with on a bare minimum basis and at the last minute.

Watts
Watts
30 days ago
Reply to  EEE

why was the speed limit on Naito recently increased from 20 mph to 25 mph?

Maybe it was only temporarily set at 20; I’m not sure the street qualifies to have a speed of 20 — it’s (probably) not a local service street, and I don’t think it has sufficient commercial activity to be considered a “commercial district”.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

The description of calling 911 or the non-emergency number and being told that our gov’t will do nothing to help: that’s real.

I remember riding in the bike lane down Capitol Hwy and having some jerk in a truck riding my ass and laying on his horn. I called the non-emergency line (this was back in the days when it was answered and you weren’t on hold for 20 minutes) and the dispatcher told me there was nothing they could do.

I’ve given up reporting these incidents.

JM asked, What can we do? The city of Portland could start by taking reports seriously and sending a cop to talk to the drivers when someone reports vehicular harassment.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Exactly, they should treat it the same as anyone calling in about being threatened with a dangerous weapon.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

They do; I called about someone with a gun sitting on the sidewalk, and got the same response.

Adam
Adam
1 month ago

I’ve experienced all kinds of abuse in my 21 years biking around this town. Even a few that scared the hell out of me. My attitude has always been to keep my wits about me and, when possible, smirk back and clearly convey, “F@#$ you too.”

You have to have a thick skin to bike around this town daily and accept a certain level of risk and just decide to keep biking come rain, shine, or abuse. Men tend to be more disagreeable and aggressive than women and are more likely to put up with rough conditions. It also means men in cars are more prone to fits of road rage so I can understand why many women don’t feel safe biking. My wife keeps at it, but that’s her.

This ain’t Copenhagen and likely won’t be any time soon, so don’t expect the sex ratio of cyclists to change any time soon either.

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam

Please do not tell me that your reaction to this is that women need a thicker skin. Most men have absolutely no clue how much harassment and violence women face doing day to day activities. Women have the thickest skin, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to highlight experiences that are jarring or that make us feel unsafe! If the goal is to get everyone on a bike, “just suck it up” is not the answer.

Adam
Adam
1 month ago
Reply to  Jennifer

I did not write “women need a thicker skin.” I wrote, “You (the all-inclusive second-person plural pronoun) have to have a thick skin to bike around this town,” Meaning everyone needs a thick skin. Women are on average more risk averse, but that fact does not mean they are weaker than men. My comment was a general lament about the state of affairs and my pessimism that they will change in a way that will allow a greater swath of the population to feel comfortable biking, including kids, women, the elderly, and disabled. In the meantime, if you want to bike regularly you do, in your words, have to “just suck it up.”

No where in my comment do I discount the experiences of others or how others perceive their own experiences. My comment acknowledges that the average man experiences abusive and challenging cycling conditions different from the average woman. Just because we have different experiences does not mean women’s or men’s experiences are more valid than the other’s. Setting up victim hierarchies and victim competitions leads us around in circles and perpetuates the status quo.

You want to see more women biking? Look to Copenhagen (which has a similar city population to Portland). In the early 2010s, the Technical University of Denmark reported that 55% of cyclists in Copenhagen and Denmark were women. 55%. In other words, it is possible for women of all walks of life to feel safe biking. Alas, the political will and know-how in Portland is just not there nor is it on the horizon.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jul/09/women-cycling-infrastructure-cyclists-killed-female

https://www.donkey.bike/blog-from-25-to-50-closing-the-gender-gap-in-urban-cycling/

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam

I’ve ridden in Copenhagen and Amsterdam too. Assholes and sexism exist there as well… cars, too. I roll my eyes when the bike activists who’ve never been there, or never left the tourist core, pretend that it’s some magic utopia that has solved all our problems.

Go see for yourself.

G. Ellsworth Thomas
G. Ellsworth Thomas
1 month ago

[Moderator: Deleted first line, inflammatory.] AASHTO must amend MUTCD to value human life over vehicle speed. Traffic engineers ARE part of the problem. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2023/11/15/new-bill-would-finally-rewrite-the-notorious-mutcd-for-vulnerable-road-user-safety

Joe Baker
Joe Baker
1 month ago

It’s not just motorists. I was riding behind two female cyclists with their permission on a the Harvest Century. The cyclist in the middle was fainting every time she got to a SAG stop. At one point on the road, two male cyclists pedaled up on the left of the female cyclists and tried to start a conversation. Obviously, neither of the female riders responded due to the health concern they were trying to manage. The two men rode beside the two female riders for 5 mins without speaking while ignoring me. It was really creepy.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Baker

I’m finding it very hard to generalize *anything* from this comment.

Joe Baker
Joe Baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

The point of my comment was to offer validation to the female readers. Inevitably there will be male riders responding with the valid statement that we also face harassment and unsafe motorists on the road. However, that is not the point of the article. The point is that females experience harassment that is frightening, including harassment that is gender specific. I wanted to offer an example of gender specific harassment that I have seen that was directed at the riders because they were female, and an example that went beyond harassment by motorists described in the article.

360Skeptic
360Skeptic
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Baker

Odds are long that they rode to the start of the Harvest Century, so those were motorists (as are we all, almost).

Michael
Michael
1 month ago

A man screaming “get the f*ck off the road” repeatedly while I was cycling on a low traffic route downtown, revving their engine constantly and pulling up too close behind me. I finally got off the road, shaking and crying and called 911. The dispatcher told me there was “nothing we can do, it’s not illegal.” She didn’t want me to report the behavior, even though I had the license plate.

As described, that 100% is illegal behavior. There are plausibly five different violations of Oregon statute, including criminal misdemeanors, that absolutely warrant a report by a citizen and investigation by state authorities. It’s so unfortunate when the people we bestow a public trust to provide help instead gatekeep and avoid having to do their job.

ORS 163.190 Menacing
(1) A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.
(2) Menacing is a Class A misdemeanor.
(3) If a person is convicted of menacing constituting domestic violence as an element of the crime as described ORS 132.586 (Pleading domestic violence in accusatory instrument), the court shall ensure that the judgment document reflects that the conviction constitutes domestic violence.

ORS 163.195 Recklessly endangering another person
(1) A person commits the crime of recklessly endangering another person if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
(2) Recklessly endangering another person is a Class A misdemeanor.

ORS 811.135 Careless driving
(1) A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.
(2) The offense described in this section, careless driving, applies on any premises open to the public and is a Class B traffic violation unless commission of the offense contributes to an accident. If commission of the offense contributes to an accident, the offense is a Class A traffic violation.
(3) In addition to any other penalty imposed for an offense committed under this section, if the court determines that the commission of the offense described in this section contributed to the serious physical injury or death of a vulnerable user of a public way, the court shall:
(a) Impose a sentence that requires the person to:
(A) Complete a traffic safety course; and
(B) Perform between 100 and 200 hours of community service, notwithstanding ORS 137.129 (Length of community service sentence). The community service must include activities related to driver improvement and providing public education on traffic safety;
(b) Order, but suspend on the condition that the person complete the requirements of paragraph (a) of this subsection:
(A) A fine of up to $12,500, notwithstanding ORS 153.018 (Maximum fines); and
(B) A suspension of driving privileges for one year as provided in ORS 809.280 (Department procedures following court order of suspension or revocation); and
(c) Set a hearing date up to one year from the date of sentencing.
(4) At the hearing described in subsection (3)(c) of this section, the court shall:
(a) If the person has successfully completed the requirements described in subsection (3)(a) of this section, dismiss the penalties ordered under subsection (3)(b) of this section; or
(b) If the person has not successfully completed the requirements described in subsection (3)(a) of this section:
(A) Grant the person an extension based on good cause shown; or
(B) Order the penalties under subsection (3)(b) of this section.
(5) When a court orders a suspense under subsection (4) of this section, the court shall prepare and send to the Department of Transportation an order of suspension of driving privileges of the person. Upon receipt of an order under this subsection, the department shall take action as directed under ORS 809.280 (Department procedures following court order of suspension or revocation).
(6) The police officer issuing the citation for an offense under this section shall note on the citation if the cited offense appears to have contributed to the serious physical injury or death of a vulnerable user of a public way.

ORS 811.140 Reckless driving
(1) A person commits the offense of reckless driving if the person recklessly drives a vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property.
(2) The use of the term “recklessly” in this section is as defined in ORS 161.085 (Definitions with respect to culpability).
(3) The offense described in this section, reckless driving, is a Class A misdemeanor and is applicable upon any premises open to the public.

ORS 811.485 Following too closely
(1) A person commits the offense of following too closely if the person does any of the following:
(a) Drives a motor vehicle so as to follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway.
(b) Drives a truck, commercial bus or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle when traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residence district or upon a freeway within the corporate limits of a city and follows another truck, commercial bus or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle without, when conditions permit, leaving sufficient space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy the space without danger. This paragraph does not prevent a truck, commercial bus or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle from overtaking and passing a vehicle or combination of vehicles.
(c) Drives a motor vehicle when traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residence district or upon a freeway within the corporate limits of a city in a caravan or motorcade whether or not towing another vehicle without operating the vehicle so as to leave sufficient space between vehicles to enable a vehicle to enter and occupy the space without danger.
(2) This section does not apply in the case of a funeral procession. Except for the funeral lead vehicle, vehicles participating in a funeral procession shall follow the preceding vehicle as closely as is reasonable and safe.
(3)(a) This section does not apply to a person operating a vehicle that is part of a connected automated braking system.
(b) As used in this subsection, “connected automated braking system” means a system that uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication to electronically coordinate the braking of a lead vehicle with the braking of one or more following vehicles.
(4) The offense described in this section, following too closely, is a Class B traffic violation.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael

Every PPB officer and 911 operator should be required to memorize these and how they apply in driver vs cyclist conflicts

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Ha! I was threatened by an off-duty PPB officer, and when I complained about him, I was told he was “exercising his right to free speech.” That’s pretty much the standard answer you will get from PPB about any threatening speech – including the guy who put a handgun on his dash at Sunday Parkways and then threatened people.

stephan
stephan
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

911 dispatcher should know this! This is such a dismissive response, unbelievable.

BrickLearns
BrickLearns
1 month ago

Protected bike infrastructure and diverters!

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
1 month ago

Women who run experience this sort of thing as well, which—sadly—won’t come as a surprise.

was carless
was carless
1 month ago

Interesting. I’vd bikes in Oregon for 38 years and I’ve had very few issues.

One time about 15 years ago I had a guy in a pickup truck drive around the block screaming at me, but that was around bar closing time on the weekend near Belmont. I picked my bike up onto the sidewalk and he drove off. Other than that, I have put about 15 to 20,000 mi on my bike and have biked all over Oregon, including over the coast range, bike camping, and just general bike commuting throughout the Portland metro area.

I should also mention that I have bicycled a fair amount in rural areas, including 55 mph highways and a few small towns. Not a huge amount, but some and still haven’t had any problems. And neither has my wife so… YMMV.

I still bike in Portland and haven’t had any incidents in recent years… Obviously a different perspective from the opposite gender and being white I suppose. I remember one time biking in Portland with a friend of mine, and he had a bottle thrown at him by a car that passed by me very politely only moments later.

Kyle Banerjee
1 month ago
Reply to  was carless

I probably have about 200K lifetime miles — shortest commute I’ve had until I started working from home post COVID since the early 80’s is 7 miles one way (longest is 20+ one way for a decade) and my experience is like yours and your wife’s.

I would estimate that for me, roughly 1 out of 100K motorist encounters could be described as hostile, i.e. very rare, but you’ll experience some crazy stuff if you’re out there long enough.

However, I’d also observe that how you move and how you’re equipped makes a massive difference in how you’re treated. Being calm and assertive — but also courteous — also goes a long way, and those who go out prepared for battle will find it every time.

A certain percentage of the population struggles with mental and addiction issues — my guess is such individuals are very disproportionately represented by the tiny number that messes with cyclists, so engaging them or assuming they’re reasonable/sane isn’t recommended.

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
1 month ago

Sorry but it’s mostly garbage in garbage out in with this survey. No doubt aggressive drivers are a major problem but the questions were skewed so homeless individuals wouldn’t be blamed. The bike loud folx don’t think that is okay. If we really want to improve women’s bikeshare in Portland, inaccurate questionnaires aren’t going to help.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
1 month ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

Correct. BikeLoud is not a trustworthy source.

This comment will likely not be published due to censorship.

Bicycle Dude
Bicycle Dude
1 month ago

As a year-round male cyclist I was shocked by what this survey brought out on the far too many dangers my fellow female cyclists face. My wife and daughter are cyclists, now I have yet another thing to worry about when they’re out for a ride.

Thanks for sharing the details and comments from female riders.

Kyle Banerje
1 month ago

Presenting the output of this “survey” as anything other than a self-fulfilling instrument is more than a stretch. The questions were loaded to achieve a very specific outcome, and the self selected respondents already come from a group who seek that outcome.

The surprise is how few experienced Level 1 trauma (less than 10%) — I would have expected nearly everyone. 1 out of every 10,000 drivers you encounter (doesn’t take long if you actually ride) will be the 0.01% worst, so the real miracle is there weren’t far more people. Heck, I’ve had guns pointed at me.

Drivers often rage on each other and having super threating/dangerous experiences is nearly universal, so a hostile encounter with a vehicle isn’t necessarily about cycling.

Compared to other places, Portland is easy to ride, and you can get away with behaviors that would be suicidal elsewhere. My anecdotal observation would be that Portland cyclists as a group communicate much less with other road users than cyclists elsewhere and have significantly less situational awareness — I frequently witness conflicts that could have easily been avoided by doing one or both of those things.

The question is what the survey aims to accomplish. People shouldn’t ride where they think they are in danger, so trying to convince them that the roads are a dangerous and hostile place is a weird way to get more cyclists out there.

360Skeptic
360Skeptic
1 month ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

Except this wasn’t “trying to convince.” It was reporting collected data. You yourself just reported that you had a gun pointed at you — so if there’s any “trying to convince,” it appears you are part of it.

Now what if, just supposing, the goal is not that old, tired “to get more cyclists out there” [to be traumatized, especially women and non-binary]. What if, rather, it’s to call on the powers that be to effect authentic culture change so it’s then safer for more people to get around on bikes?

Because surely there’s something a little more equitable and inclusive than “once more unto the breach dear friends, or close the wall with our [biking] dead.” (Sorry, Bard.)

(Yep, tall order. Nope, I don’t know how to do it in any way that currently could gin up enough political will. Would love to hear ideas.)

Kyle Banerjee
1 month ago
Reply to  360Skeptic

People have been spectacularly unsuccessful at attempts to achieve mass societal change from the beginning of time.

The political will doesn’t exist because the will doesn’t exist in society. Even autocrats who have plenty of political will don’t succeed — you can’t legislate away reality.

I don’t understand how being nonbinary has anything to do with cycling — motorists can’t tell how someone identifies, so it’s not a criteria that will inform their actions.

The reality is that the vast majority of motorists are OK enough — cycling would otherwise be impossible. The small percentage of bad drivers and tiny percentage are miscreants doesn’t change that.

360Skeptic
360Skeptic
1 month ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

And yet, somehow, mass societal change has occurred — or else we would still be living “Clan of the Cave Bear” or similar.

Political will existed in the postwar Netherlands. That’s why this happened. I can’t see it happening here now, but maybe in enough years that climate change is sufficiently worse. Hoping for something to fill the interim.

Being non-binary (or a woman, or non-white, etc. etc.) has a lot to do with being on a bike because, unlike in a car, your appearance is out there for all your fellow road users to see and to hate on. That is, yes, people in cars can get visual clues about your non-binary identity.

“OK enough” is inherently subjective. Thus it is NOT a fact. “OK enough” for what, exactly? (“To be not impossible” seems like a _really_ low bar, rife with Stockholm syndrome.)

Can you maybe accept that though it’s OK enough for you, gunpoint episodes and all, it will need to be more OK if it’s to be OK enough for more people (whew) — so it stands a chance to help fix some of what ails us?

Guy
Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

Drivers often rage on each other and having super threating/dangerous experiences is nearly universal, so a hostile encounter with a vehicle isn’t necessarily about cycling.

It seems like you don’t trust women to accurately assess or report whether cycling or misogyny played a role in their experience.

Would you tell a person of color who was just called a racial slur or had an experience that they believe was fueled by racism the following:

White people often rage on each other and having super threatening/dangerous experiences is nearly universal, so a hostile encounter with a white person isn’t necessarily about racism.

Prolly not, right?

It also kinda sounds like you’re asking people to settle for good enough because other people have it worse. How bad could it be if not everyone is experiencing level 1 trauma like a hit and run or stalking? (lol get real, dude). If someone gave you that life advice, I hope you’d politely tell them to kick rocks. Don’t give that advice to other people.

Beth H
Beth H
1 month ago

Long before Covid changed my ability and frequency of bicycle riding, I was already cowed by an experience at the 2018 Sunday Parkways, in which a driver deliberately steered his car into me after I asked him to move off the car-free street. He tapped the accelerator repeatedly until he came within inches of hitting me. There was no police support that year (remember?), I was deeply spooked, a younger male volunteer told me, “You just need to grow a thicker skin,” and I haven’t been the same since.
Covid and its aftermath only exacerbated what was already a dangerous problem.
And I have permanently altered my criteria for when and where I ride, partly as a response to that incident.

CV
CV
1 month ago

It might help the “but I’m a man and face aggressive drivers too” crowd to remember, or learn about, the concept of intersectionality. Yes, cyclists of all genders face aggressive drivers on the road, but women face the compounded effects of misogyny + aggressive drivers. Women cyclists of color face the compounded effects of racism + misogyny + aggressive drivers. Add in being a trans, being fat, etc, and it gets even worse.

Men, picture if the aggression you face on the streets didn’t stop once you got off your bike. Picture people harassing you for being a cyclist at the store, at your job, at a party. Picture people talking over you and dismissing your opinions in a meeting, just because you’re a cyclist. This is what we face as women. Don’t tell us that the sexism magically stops when we get on a bike, because it doesn’t.

Granpa
Granpa
1 month ago

This is the most informative/ educational blog post and comments “conversation “ I can recall

Charley
Charley
1 month ago

These survey results are disheartening. We will never get to 25% mode share if so many people are subjected to this kind of abuse.

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
1 month ago

woman here- I’m a frequent rider and luckily I’ve never experienced any of what my fellow women are commenting on. The two times I’ve been in VERY scary situations with cars was when a man pulled a gun was pulled on us at last year’s Sunday Parkway and when I was volunteer at last year’s Grand Floral parade and a driver drove through the parade right where I was stationed (he was arrested, thank god). Men are the problem, a society full of angry, bitter, lonely men are the problem. add in drugs and alcohol and guns and we live in a terrifying society. men, do better please. teach your sons, talk to your dads, uncles, brothers and friends. I always wonder when I see men behaving like this, what their family thinks.. do they have the guts to tell them to STFU and stop acting like a 5 year old? I doubt it. zero tolerance. actually, last week, I saw a car driver almost hit a family lawfully crossing the road. I pulled up to him, he had his window down and I looked him right in the eye and told him he was a fucking asshole. men need more accountability. see something, say something

Zoe
Zoe
1 month ago

As for women not commenting on BP: I’m a mother who works full time (in a transportation-related profession) and I lack the free time* to comment as much as I would like. Also, in the past, I’ve felt that the tone of male commenters can be off-putting – as the comments on this post show, there’s not a lot of capacity for self-reflection among many of the male commenters. In my case, I recall that in the past I have commented how I have dealt with aggressive male (and only male) cyclists who insist on unsafe maneuvers on the physically constrained paths I commuted on (because they refused to yield to others in a shared space), and I was called “sexist” for pointing out the behavior of members of one gender. I laughed, but yeah, doesn’t make me want to add my voice here much. As a result, I have chosen to do other things and when I post, I post anonymously.

*regarding free time, there’s a Pew Research Center report on American leisure time (easy to find on their website – there’s an overview from 10/27/2023) that shows that in families with children, working husbands have 2 more hours’ leisure time each week than working wives. So that may play into who chooses to comment in their (more limited) free time. It may also play into women’s more limited availability to spent time cycling.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Things like this are why I am afraid to cycle.

I’m a man, so the article isn’t aimed at me. Iman also disabled and unable to drive largely due to poor vision and lack of depth perception. That in specific makes the harassment too close vehicle pass an outright danger. I can’t be the only person going in with bad eyes.

Maybe these people think hurting someone will make them feel better.

What bothers me more then the harassment is how the powers that be are utterly ignoring the problem.

Don’t bother.
Be silent.

Then when an inevitable accident occurs reporting will paint the cyclist as at fault. Not the person in the five thousand pound death machine that will be unhurt and who’s vehicle probably won’t have more than chipped paint.

It’s disgraceful.

Those women that spoke out are brave for doing so.

Ethan
Ethan
30 days ago

I don’t think that this is an issue which specifically affects females, but all bike riders. Even when I started cycling to school at 10 years old drivers felt the need to shout abuse and make threats on my life.

Cars turn somewhat normal people into violent, domineering, semi anonymous murder maniacs.

Steven
Steven
30 days ago
Reply to  Ethan

I don’t think anyone is saying it only affects women. But it’s pretty well documented that women and girls suffer far more sexist abuse than men and boys, especially in public. I believe it’s because of this little thing you may have heard of called patriarchy.

Free-agent
Free-agent
30 days ago

I cannot imagine having any additional crap to deal with while riding. It is unacceptable that women and trans riders have an additional layer of stress. As men, we have so much work to do.We can begin by being empathetic or simply listening when others tell us their stories.

rachel b
rachel b
27 days ago

Given the readily available stats on women’s experience, worldwide, of violence and routine misogyny from men, I’m only surprised anyone would be surprised by the survey results. Why, despite that evidence, are women continually required to “prove it!” to men? Male amnesia on this subject is confounding. The stats are out there. Read ’em. Here’re some:

https://www.who.int/news/item/09-03-2021-devastatingly-pervasive-1-in-3-women-globally-experience-violence