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Women cite badly-lit routes and lack of safe infrastructure as major barriers to cycling

New research from Lime makes five key recommendations including calling for more segregated infrastructure

A new report from bike and scooter share firm Lime has found that badly lit streets at night and the lack of safe infrastructure are major barriers to cycling for most women, helping explain why, in the UK, men on average make three times as many trips by bicycle than women do, according to government figures.

Publishing the findings of its research under the title Tackling the Gender ‘Pedal Gap’ – Women’s Night Safety Report 2023, Lime also found that anti-social behaviour and the prospect of harassment from other road users were issues that each prevented around one in three women from getting in the saddle.

Just one in five women responding to the survey commissioned by Lime for the report agreed that they felt safe riding a bicycle at night, while more than three quarters said that a car was their preferred option for travelling in the hours of darkness.

Overall, nine in 10 women who ride a bike or scooter experience some type of barrier to doing so, says Lime, which in the UK runs e-bike and or e-scooter schemes in runs e-bike and e-scooter schemes in London, Milton Keynes, Salford, Derby and Nottingham, and which listed five key recommendations resulting from its research, as follows:

The government and local authorities should build upon existing work to deliver more cycling infrastructure and parking bays.

Local authorities should also ensure there is street lighting on popular cycling routes and around parking bays.

The government should work with local authorities and charities to introduce cycling lessons or refresher courses in secondary schools.

Transport and mapping applications should introduce a feature to show well-lit routes home for cycling, with 66% of female cyclists saying they’d feel safer with this kind of map feature.

Lime will explore new product features to improve personal safety, such as a ‘Follow My Ride’ feature which would allow women to share their cycle journey with loved ones.

In a foreword to the report, which was based on a survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by polling firm Opinium as well as a survey of 132 Lime riders, Lime general counsel Sarah Binder, who said that women who use its bikes and scooters are among the company’s “most loyal riders and  advocates,,” wrote of her own experience.

“Even before joining Lime, I was a passionate advocate of cycling in London,” she said. “I have experienced the value and benefits that it brings to my life - for commuting, for fun or fitness, and to see friends and family.”

She said that the report highlighted that “despite these benefits, women continue to cycle less regularly than men in the UK. I am proud of the role that Lime has played in starting to increase accessibility for female cycling, including making me and other women feel safe on the roads. But there is clearly more that needs to be done.

“We believe that companies such as Lime have a vital role to play in working with government, local authorities and industry to overcome the barriers that exist and hope this report can be a step in the right direction to closing the gender ‘pedal gap’,” she added.

Earlier this year, we reported on research from Australia that highlighted similar barriers to getting more women cycling in Melbourne, including the lack of safe infrastructure that separates cyclists from motor vehicles.

Dr Lauren Pearson of Monash University's Sustainable Mobility and Safety Research Group, who led the research, noted that twice as many men cycle in the city compared to women, a similar proportion to that in the UK.

“Gender differences were stark in terms of the barriers,” Dr Pearson said. “We were really surprised at just how substantial these differences were, and how many women were reporting these concerns.”

Just over three quarters of women surveyed as part of the research said that they would like to cycle more, which Dr Pearson said reflected “massive potential,” and she added that segregated bike lanes “may support more women to ride a bike through reducing motor vehicle interactions.”

As with the Lime study, the research from Melbourne also found that poorly-lit routes discouraged many women from cycling, with nearly half of the women questioned agreeing that well-lit areas would lead to them cycling more often.

“It's about planning for the trips that aren't taken as well as those that are," Dr Pearson added.

“Women want to make local trips and we need to make sure we're building the infrastructure to support this, not just thinking about the people that are already riding, and having that gender lens on all design decisions.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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16 comments

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Muddy Ford | 3 months ago
7 likes

Much cheaper and more effective than segregated infrastructure would be to give the police a kick in the nuts to ensure they don't treat upload reports of dangerous passes as a joke. When motorists start to get punished properly they will drive more safely. I think virtually all crashes are not genuine accidents, there is always a negligent reason (too close, too fast, intentional, innattentive, poor maintenence, etc.) 

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chrisonabike replied to Muddy Ford | 2 months ago
0 likes

Not disputing that in several senses crashes are not "genuine accidents" (the most trivial being that someone *chose to drive* )

Id certainly disagree with the idea that better policing (to any practical / non- police state level) would be *more* effective than separate spaces for making cycling more safe (and certainly not more convenient). I think after "avoiding crossing paths" * with motor traffic the next most effective measure is "everyone who drives is also sometimes a cyclist / their family, friends and rule models are"). However I'm not aware of anywhere that has sufficient trips cycled to mean "cyclists" aren't "them (not me / us)" *without* some kind of good quality cycle infra in quality.

I totally agree we can and should do better with policing. And this may be a very good move right now in the UK:

https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/why-do-we-need-more-traffic-police

... but I don't think it'll change numbers cycling. And like fixing potholes I think we quickly reach points of rapidly diminishing returns.

* Which separate infra largely avoids. Obviously nowhere has even the majority of routes on completely independent infra but that is not necessary:
http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2012/04/100-segregation-of-bikes-an...

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mattw replied to Muddy Ford | 2 months ago
1 like

I think separated or protected (not "segregated") infra delivers perceived safety in a way which having to trust everyone driving a motor vehicle does not.

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Wheelywheelygood | 3 months ago
0 likes

The Barriers are all too simple ,1 they can't tell red from green 2 can't tell pavements from roads 3dont know what a zebra crossing is for 4 lights and reflectors what are they 5 signals  there for trains 6road markings  and lanes are for decoration 7too many don't even how to ride a bike 8 they don't know which side of the road to ride on 9 no MOT on bikes so a lot are just not safe 10 no insurace to pay for what they hit  poles ,railings ,people, wheelchairs ,kids in buggies  and cars 11 no left turn not for bikes 12 one way only not for bikes 13 Wheely  riding even on main roads 14 hands free riding . Some car drivers are fools but most do try to survive their journeys but bikers seem to go out with a death wish if u doubt it try watching London dash cam 

 

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BalladOfStruth replied to Wheelywheelygood | 3 months ago
3 likes

What the...

Here, try this.

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chrisonabike replied to BalladOfStruth | 3 months ago
5 likes

Nigels' stab at a Boatsie tribute?

(If you recall from time back - bring back Boatsie!)

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wtjs replied to BalladOfStruth | 3 months ago
5 likes

What the...

I don't generally look at the rantings of the obvious nutter retreads because there's something very sad about this need to express extreme views in order to incite retaliation- it's like intruding on private grief. I don't know enough about mental illness to speculate about why someone would want to waste their time like this beyond 'they haven't got anything else to do with their time'. However, this one is so badly written that if it was genuine the perpetrator would hardly be able to type and breathe at the same time. Therefore, I think it's a parody of a nutter by someone who's not quite as mad. The mystery remains, though- why bother?

This is some light relief, showing that, in Lancashire, even the bus companies don't need to bother with any of that bureacracy like VED and MOT. This is the Lonsdale Bus Route 88 to Knott End- presumably heavily subsidised by Lancashire CC and it's right on time. No VED since the end of October, and apparently no MOT ever. DVLA must have exempted it, because there has been VED previously. The rules about MOT exemption are pretty much unfathomable for the general public- the buses around here, even the Stagecoach double-deckers, almost invariably do have their annual tests listed online. I'll report it but I won't hear anything back, and Lancashire Constabulary wouldn't do anything even if the bus had evaded any form of testing for the last 10 1/2 years.

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wtjs replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
5 likes

The thing about these multiple personality disorder people is that they're unable to keep in character or maintain the distinction between the different personas., as shown in the cyclist deaths topic where he's displaying a different but similar one

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perce replied to Wheelywheelygood | 3 months ago
3 likes

Ilford have introduced a new colour film, the first one in their illustrious history I think. It just proves film photography is still very popular. Oh and bingo by the way.

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Tom_77 replied to Wheelywheelygood | 3 months ago
1 like

PARKLIFE

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belugabob replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
2 likes

"Can I have a full stop, please, Bob...?"

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tootsie323 replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
0 likes

15 - 99, all the things that drivers do whilst supposedly in control of a vehicle which has approx. 15 times the momentum (i.e. potential to kill) of someone on a bicycle.

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Doctor Fegg | 3 months ago
4 likes

"Transport and mapping applications should introduce a feature to show well-lit routes home for cycling, with 66% of female cyclists saying they’d feel safer with this kind of map feature."

cycle.travel already does this.

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Wheelywheelygood replied to Doctor Fegg | 3 months ago
0 likes

Lighting is very important without it u can't see the red lights u just went through 

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Sriracha replied to Wheelywheelygood | 3 months ago
5 likes

My experience as a pedestrian walking to work daily is that I have never felt imperilled by a cyclist. Whereas most days, when I navigate junctions, had I started to cross when the traffic light turned red I would have been run over.

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belugabob replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
4 likes
Wheelywheelygood wrote:

Lighting is very important without it u can't see the red lights u just went through 

Would those be infra-red lights?

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