Women Cyclist in New York

Women Cycling in New York

The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community. ~Ann Strong

Women Cycling in New York

This summer, the New York Times published an insightful article on the lack of growth of women cyclists in New York City compared to other cities around the World. The Times article by Christine Haughney, highlighted the reasons why women on bikes lag behind male cyclists at a rate of 3 to 1.

In the United States, about 23% of all cyclists are women based on Census data about commuting. In fact, the number of women who commute by bicycle has decreased from 33% of all bike trips in 2001 to 24% in 2009 according to the American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau. In comparison, 55% of all bicycle trips in the Netherlands are by women, and 49% in Germany.

Based upon the article, the comments and other blogs I have read, the number one concern for women cyclists is safety. One blogger offered up some sound advice for women cyclists. Here is what she suggested in and around San Francisco which can easily applied to women cyclists in New York.

The blogger commented "There is a difference between appropriate caution and paranoia. You shouldn't let fear prevent you from enjoying activities like bicycling that can greatly enhance your life. And in many ways, bicycling is safer than driving. For example, in dangerous situations, you can easily redirect your bike 180 degrees and go the opposite direction, even on the sidewalk if necessary. Try that with a car!"

Below I listed some of her sound advice:

1) Heed your gut feelings. If a situation causes anxiety, turn around and leave. Get away to a place where you feel more secure. Trust your instincts.

2) Improve your basic self-defense skills. Consider taking a "model mugging" course, martial arts classes, or similar training. Try carrying something like pepper spray, which is available in lightweight, sports specific containers. Carry a whistle, horn or other loud noise-making device. Carry a cell phone.

3) Improve your bike handling skills. Practice sprinting, jumping curbs, quick turns, and other escape techniques. Generally, the more confident you are while bicycling, the safer you will be in all circumstances. Riding too cautiously or fearfully invites abuse, from drivers or potential attackers. Be assertive and confident.

4) Vary your route. If you travel regularly through sketchy areas, don't be predictable.

5) Be on top of the situation. Know your route and travel decisively. Be aware of your surroundings. If approached by a stranger, make eye contact. Just enough so they understand you would be able to identify them. Maintain and define your space. Don't ride too close to pedestrians or objects that might conceal an attacker. Don't be taken by surprise. When traveling at night, use lights that are bright enough to illuminate the road ahead.

6) Maintain your bicycle. Avoid having an unfortunate mechanical breakdown by keeping your bike serviceable. Make sure your tires aren't too worn down.

7) Your locks are weapons. If you can't avoid or easily flee a dangerous situation, your u-lock can be used as a club, and a cable lock makes an effective flail. I suggest this course only as a last resort; flight is generally safer than confrontation.

Some other suggestions I would add:

  • Carry a whistle or air horn kept in a readily available place,
  • Carry pepper spray or other self defense tool,
  • Keep your cell phone handy and accessible,
  • Let your friends or family know when you leave, your route home, and when you are expected to arrive,
  • Avoid dark unlit and desolate streets, parks and alley ways.
  • Pick less trafficked routes and streets with designated bike lanes.

Please visit our other page. New York Bike Safety- for more tips on safe cycling around New York. If you or a fellow bike rider are involved in a bike collision or need our assistance, contact us at (866) 352-6944.

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