Women and Cycling – What’s the Story?

30.08.2022 2 min read

This week marks the sixth year of the 100 Women in Cycling awards, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to acknowledge those women who love cycling, as well as those who are interested in getting into it. Every year, We Are Cycling UK takes a moment to celebrate inspirational women who are leading by example empowering women and, sharing the well-being benefits of cycling. The award encompasses women from all walks of life, from mountain bikers and endurance cyclists to community group leaders, cycling school-run mums, and industry entrepreneurs.

Temple has recently been carrying out research on how access to different types of transport modes affect social exclusion. This is also known as “Transport Related Social Exclusion”, or TRSE –  referring to the ways in which lack of access to transport has a tangible effect on peoples’ access to a variety of things, from employment and education to healthcare and social activities.

Women are particularly susceptible to TRSE, especially regarding cycling, with women typically cycling much less than their male counterparts. Despite the environmental benefits that cycling offers, as well as the relatively low cost of cycling, and in some areas dedicated cycle lanes, women still show low rates of cycling.

The 2020 National Travel Survey (NTS) found men to make double the number of cycle trips as women (an average of 28 trips per person in one year compared to 13 trips per person per year for women) and to cycle more than double the distance (127 miles per person compared to 50 miles per person) (NTS0601, National Travel Survey, Department for Transport, 2020).

Although safety and lack of investment into adequate and inclusive cycle infrastructure remain the most common barrier to women taking up biking, our research has also pointed towards the significance of attitudinal barriers that need to be examined closely, alongside a healthy dose of capital investment.

For example, our research found that a perception of cycling as “low status”, as well as the idea that cycling would cause impediments to women’s lifestyles, had a profound impact on women’s motivations to cycle. Furthermore, there is a lack of understanding amongst women of the capabilities of modern bicycles, including electric bikes, to aid in getting up hills, compared to older technologies, which also serve as a disincentive to cycling.

It is clear from our research that there are many reasons other than concern about safety that contributes to women’s reluctance to cycle. Overcoming attitudinal obstacles could be equally as important as infrastructure provision. If successfully overcome, this could play an important part in meeting the travel needs of women who experience certain types of transport related social exclusion.

Key Contacts

Marie Williams Consultant - Social Value