Why are there fewer women than men cycling in the UK?

Issue date: 19 July 2010


Cyclists Why are fewer women than men cycling in the UK, and what might encourage more women to take to two wheels? Anja Dalton,a PhD research student from the University of the West of England is investigating gender differences in cycling in the UK and aims to discover the key reasons for the lack of participation in cycling by women. She is also interested in whether social influence is a significant factor in persuading more people, especially more women, to cycle.

The project, 'Cycling Circles: gender and social influence in UK Cycling' is part of the iConnect consortium,funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The three year project will report findings in November 2011.

Anja Dalton explains, β€œLevels of cycling are low in the UK, compared to several European neighbours, at 2% of all transport trips. One barrier to increasing cycling levels is that current uptake of cycling is unequally distributed, with only half as many transport trips by British women being by bike, compared to men. Certain groups, such as older people and ethnic minorities are also currently under-represented, and if some groups of people are not visible as cyclists others may not feel it is for them either.

β€œThe study is using a mixed-methods framework involving interviews and focus groups, as well as use of secondary quantitative data to investigate broader UK gender and cycling patterns. The first stage, an exploratory study in Bristol, is currently near completion and then further data collection is planned in Cardiff later this year, in the vicinity of the Cardiff Connect2 scheme, Pont-y-Werin (People's Bridge) between Cardiff Bay and Penarth.”

Anja intends that the research findings will provide knowledge relevant for policy-makers involved in the transport and health fields, to assist their work in enabling greater numbers of people to cycle and so enjoy the benefits of this flexible, fun, cheap and healthy form of transport.

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