Why women get off the bike: new Hackney survey

Male cyclists at Dalston Junction Hackney E8 2013 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Hackney council neighbourhoods cllr Feryal Demirci at London Fields cyclists breakfast © david.altheer@gmail.com 180614
Demirci: “open to looking at” segregation or semi-segregation

HACKNEY WOMEN cyclists park the bike once they approach their forties as they increasingly worry about traffic.  Men, however, ride on into later life.

The gender divide has emerged in feedback from Hackney council’s free cycle application for smartphones and tablets.

Most women users of the app are between 25 and 44 years old. The council says they prefer “quieter routes”.

The admission is significant because it goes against the council’s view that cyclists should take their place on the roads with motor traffic rather than be provided with segregated lanes.

The London Cycling Campaign’s Hackney branch has been pushing what it calls the Go Dutch approach to the council.

Accordingly, criticism has been made on social media that Hackney’s cycling boom does not cater for women who are supposedly less risk-averse or more foolish (choose your view) than men.

Not surprisingly, the app survey finds that male riders in the borough tend not only to use main roads but to cycle into near-retirement: 30 per cent of the 600-plus cycling app users were male and aged 45 to 64.

Women prefer to use their bikes for commuting; men for social journeys as well.

Users of the app can note how far they have cycled, calories burned and how much carbon dioxide they have theoretically saved. Men’s journeys are longer: 8.6km to women’s 7km.

Local cyclist Ethan Ohs told the council: “Rather than having to put a cycle computer on my bike I can track my basic miles with little effort.

“I like the report feature on the app: it’s nice to be able to notify the council of problems on a cycle route by just pointing my phone and taking a picture.”

Neighbourhoods councillor Feryal Demirci said the app was being used to collect data to make cycling in Hackney easy and simple.

Asked about dedicated lanes, she said the council was “very open to looking at” cycle segregation or semi-segregation through carriageway reallocation.

© DA
London’s shortest cycle lane? In Clapton

She told Loving Dalston: “We are developing designs for improvements for cyclists along the Hackney Road and Old Street corridor that will include significant interventions and changes to the road network, including partial segregation where deemed possible.”

Funding was also a key factor in deciding a scheme’s type and location. Hackney’s annual transport allocation from Transport for London (TfL) was about £2 million.

To give an idea of how far that would go, the councillor said that a 2km segregated cycle lane in Newham cost almost £5 million.

She added: “If we are to divert all our transport funds to these types of interventions without additional funding, all the other sustainable transport schemes we provide, such as cycle parking, walking schemes, accessible bus stops, electric vehicle charging points and many others on 92% of the borough roads that the council is responsible for, will have to be stopped.”

As for the proposed cycle superhighway on the A10, she said that after much discussion with TfL, Hackney thought that the lack of success with existing cycle superhighways, along with the funding constraints TfL was facing, meant that “the best option would be to support an enhanced quietway route” – so long as TfL made big improvements on the A10 corridor to tackle the high number of casualties on it.

Tower Hamlets cycle lane: separated from vehicles
Separated from vehicles: a Tower Hamlets way

Hamish Scott 201014

* The app is available free from the Apple app store and Google play.

* Backstory: Hackney’s altogether traffic planHackney 20mph limit by 2015, Hackney truckers go cyclist-friendly and Cycling tsar talks the talk

© DA
Cheap: a Richmond, London solution to separating cyclists, vehicles and walkers

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2 thoughts on “Why women get off the bike: new Hackney survey

  1. I don’t use apps. But I’ve gone back to cycling, now that I’ve regularly to go into town again, and I’m travelling longer distances than the odd mile or two locally. I’m not keen on sharing the roads with idiots who break the rules, dress in virtually invisible black and carry no lights after dark, ride on pavements and generally behave like irresponsible children.

Having cycled safely and legally for longer than most of them have been alive, I wonder how many will survive to my age.

  2. It is unfortunate that Hackney council has chosen to press-release its cycling app data in this way.

The app is really useful for following route choices, identifying problem areas and road faults. But there is no meaningful socio-demographic data that can come from such a self-selected group of users. Apart from the obvious, that men are more likely to adopt and play with this techno-gadget than are women, especially older women. We all knew that already.

This app is not designed to discover what type of cyclist rides where or why. It is statistical stupidity to think that it ever could and very poor PR practice to latch on to false conclusions about gender difference to make a story.

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