Six lessons for Portland from the League’s new ‘Women Bike’ report

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woman on a bike

Common, but not quite common enough.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Even in Portland, people who really ought to know better (links to FB) still claim now and then that biking is a thing for young dudes.

Still, in a town where only 31 percent of people on bikes tend to be female (it’s about 25 percent nationally) we’ve got a long way to go until, as in Germany or the Netherlands, our biking population is evenly split by gender. Portland’s failure to change this ratio for 10 years can be discouraging to people who think everyone deserves to feel welcome on a bike.

That’s why there’s a lot to celebrate in a new report by the League of American Bicyclists that rounds up dozens of statistics about women and bikes. Culled from industry reports, political polls and academic studies, a few of the report’s figures are pretty surprising…

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Editorial: My year as a woman in a city of bikes

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But even here in Portland, particularly in parts of the bike scene with a strong connection with sports and business, assumptions about gender often remain unquestioned.

February: I am asked to volunteer on a committee for a bicycle organization “because we need more women.” The person who invites me says that he had been frantically calling every woman he knows in the bike scene, and explains that at this point, expertise matters less than gender.

April: A local bike shop opens a new women’s section. I attend the grand opening and am one of only a few women present. The section has a separate entrance and features house and home decor and a selection of pastel hybrid bikes.

August: I email an acquaintance to tell him it isn’t okay to call other commenters “pussies.” He responds angrily. “Are you really that prudish? Seems like you’re just picking on me. Do you have some sort of problem with me?” he asks. Jonathan reads this and is surprised. “I don’t think he would have reacted that way if I’d been the one to tell him that.”

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Oregonian opines on “Cycling’s Gender Gap”

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Today’s editorial features a
photo of a female cyclist.

Less than one week ago, the Oregonian surprised local bike advocates when they published a forceful editorial in support of stiffer penalties for motor vehicle operators who hit bicyclists.

Today, they continue to show their support for two-wheeled transportation with an editorial that reads like it could have been written by PDOT themselves.

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Bicycle count report uncovers interesting stats

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Roger Geller — PDOT‘s bicycle coordinator — has just released a 21-page report that details the “significant findings and analysis” of the 2006 bicycle counts.

Last summer, 53 volunteers fanned out across the entire metro area and conducted 73 distinct counts at 56 locations. Their findings, which are presented in both graphs and spreadsheets in the report, reveal some interesting statistics and trends regarding bicycle ridership in Portland. Among them are comparisons of ridership numbers in each part of the city and the gender and helmet use ratio of Portland cyclists.

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Cycling fashion and the gender divide

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Breakfast on the Bridges - October

Last week I ran into Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles at a backyard party. We both bike a lot for transportation or work, and were talking about how we choose our clothes based on their bike-worthiness.

Natalie said she chooses all her jeans by testing whether or not she can fit her U-lock in the back pocket. (She’ll even run outside to her bike to check, if the salespeople will let her.) Someone standing with us pointed out that a lot of thought goes into pocket design on women’s jeans, from a stylistic perspective. Natalie laughed, and said if she cared about that, where would she put her lock?

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