Warm weather has us bringing out the bicycle for more than just exercise. Commuting to work is a great way to save gas, but many avoid it because of dangerous roads.
According to a study in the book City Cycling, 2012 showed only 25% of bike trips made in the U.S were women riders. Also nationally almost 1% of men in the United States bike to work versus .3% for women. It’s a little better in Charlottesville, but not by much.
The last few years have seen a major push in biker friendly streets. Despite this, only a handful of streets feature bike lanes. A study last year in Charlottesville showed 1 out of every 20 men commute on bicycle versus 1 out of every 100 for women. Some Charlottesville businesses have programs to support female riders.
"We've specifically set aside time for women to come in where it's just women only so that they can feel comfortable," says Kyle Rodland, shop director of Community Bikes.
The disparity between sexes may be that women just don't have enough time to bike to work.
"Women often take the greater share of responsibility of dropping kids off at school and doing groceries," stated Amanda Poncy, the Bicycle and Pedestrian coordinator for Charlottesville.
Many riders, men and women, completely avoid riding altogether because of safety.
Kyle mentions that "There’s a group of cyclists that don't feel comfortable on the roads so they don't ride until the roads are accommodated."
Many roads around Charlottesville are considered very biker unfriendly, and that may be why we see very few riders. Charlottesville is better than the national average, but the infrastructure for bicycle lanes usually comes down to one thing.
"As everywhere else you know money is the issue, and it's hard to, especially in a city that was laid out in the 18th century," states Roger Friend, CEO of Blue Wheel Bicycles. Rodger commutes on a bike, and comments on how “atrocious” Main St is in Charlottesville, and attributes that to why we see a lack of bikers.
The area is slowly becoming more biker friendly, and there are many programs to help push the agenda. As we watch the demand of bike lanes increase, the supply of bikers on the roads will follow