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06/22/2011: "APBP's Women's Cycling Survey"
Gina, here. We just received a notice from APBP (Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals) that their recent survey of women cyclists resulted in some interesting data.

Fascinating Results
For example, to the question, "What would cause you to start or increase your cycling?" 17 reasons cited, and the top three were:
To the question, "What reactions do you get when cycling for transportation?" 30% of respondents reported getting either a negative (18%) or bewildered (12%) response from drivers.

To the question, "Why do you use your bicycle for trips?" (I know, not the best wording. I took the survey but can't recall if this was the original phrasing), 20% report enjoyment (e.g. sense of "freedom" or "it's beautiful and pleasant"), 14% cited support/encourage the cycling community, and 10% cited parking fees and headaches.

While the age groupings were fairly predictable, with the highest percentage going to women age 20-30 (27.2%), followed by 31-40 (23.0%). It was a pleasant surprise to find that 19.2% of women reported their age to be between 41-50, and 16.4% between 51-60.

Rural and suburban women were less likely to use bikes for daily trips, and when they got on their bicycle, tended to ride further. This implies that rural and suburban women are recreational riders and spend fewer days on the bike. This would have implications for issues surrounding automobile traffic reduction.

More to Come?
This is an excellent survey that looks into a population largely overlooked. The results both confirm and call into question several assumptions we have about cyclists. We need to be cautious about drawing any broad conclusions from this data, however. The validity of self-reported data, limited sample size, and low number of responses per question are problematic.

I see lot of great opportunity for future research both in terms of analyzing this data set, and for conducting additional projects. For example, the data shows that rural/suburban women are more likely to wear a helmet. Age, self-confidence on the bike, and comfort around traffic are all potentially related, though the findings do not discuss this directly. Future surveys could broaden the population to include men for a closer comparison of gender differences.

Act Now
This is not to suggest that those on the operational and implementation side need to wait for further research to be conducted. On the contrary, this is a small wake-up call. Act to implement cycling infrastructure, improve cycling safety, and increased cycling population. Incentivize commercial concerns to install bike parking, and support cycling-related proposals.

By and large, this Women's Cycling Survey is an important step in understanding the hows and whys women bicycle. Researcher, Anna Sibley, and her colleagues should be commended for taking it. But there is still a long road ahead, and it is up to the rest of the cycling world to help her finish the trip.

If you are a cyclist, and a bicycling survey comes your way. Take it, and participate in the process.

The survey was conduced in early 2010 as part of their ongoing Women Cycling Project. There were a total of 13,286 respondents, some from countries other than the U.S. However, response rate for any given question was substantial lower. All quoted text from APBP.

You may read the final report, dated September 14, 2010.

Below are summary documents for three of the survey's questions. They are beautifully designed in brochure style with lots of pictures and charts. (Downloadable PDF files, each apx. 11MB to 16MB in size). As of this post, these are the only three available:

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