Are Women Cyclists In Danger On The Road?
Cycling is certainly having its moment right now, with more cities offering bikes to rent and many areas committing to dedicated trails and lanes on existing streets. Unfortunately, with the rise of bikes interacting with traffic has come more collisions with cars. If you’re a woman working the pedals, you need to pay special attention to your surroundings because a new study shows you’re more at risk.
A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted a study to measure how much room car drivers give cyclists as they pass alongside them. Troublingly, drivers were more likely to drive too close to a bike if the rider was female. It was a noticeable difference as well – women were three times more likely than men to have a car pass them closer than the three feet mandated by Minnesota law.
The study’s 2,949 passing instances were broken down into male cyclists logging 1,408 examples and women 1,541 (or about 48 percent male and 52 percent female). Of all the cases of “encroachment,” the legal term for passing a bike too closely, recorded by the researchers and their radar sensors, 73 percent of total instances were against women.
That’s pretty alarming, considering that there is a much lower number of women cycling in the first place, and any gender bias will scare off any new riders. StreetsBlog, a news site that works to promote walking and cycling, reports that three in four bike trips are made by men.
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For what it’s worth, the researchers said that bikers in designated lanes (especially those protected with physical barriers) were less likely to encounter encroachment. The team also reported that the encroachment gender gap narrowed in these cyclist-specific lanes.
No matter your gender, make sure that you follow all cycling and traffic laws and stay aware on your journey to cut down on the possibility of a collision.