Gender tripping including just walk

Nothing ground breaking this week (was it ever that?), just a bit of fun number crunching. In previous posts I had checked with the Census 2011 data just how gender relates to the commute and more specifically the cycle-commute. Findings were – for a quick recap – that women commute by public transport and walking more than men; and certainly not much cycling could be seen amongst women (yet not to forget cycling’s generally small participation rate aka low mode share) – but how there is, it seems, a clear relationship between a higher ratio of women cycling and higher levels of cycling.

Uze and agency

This week I was scouring another data set, the National Travel Survey (NTS) 2013 (external link), for more gender differences in travel use. Or let’s start using ‘uze’ – as we do not actively choose to use, we are made to uze, by the various circumstances surrounding us. In many ways our choice is limited. At least I hope I got Clara Greed‘s definition of ‘uze’ right here. Choose, ooze and use makes uze. This was a great eye-popping read this week: Geoff Vigar‘s The Politics of Mobility (2002). He talks in a similar vein to Clara, although he calls choice ‘agency’. As individuals we are often bereft of agency when it comes to transport. Hence a politically and institutionally structured approach is needed to get our stuck transport systems moving again. The question of agency, I suppose, is of immense importance in assessing attitudes and the free choice we have in our decision making.

Tripping over data

So, back to NTS. As the name suggests it is a national data set and hence there are no regional variations to see. Data set NTS0611 is described as Average number of trips (trip rates) by age, gender and purpose: England, 2013. I was attracted to it, as I am still trying to somewhat correlate the Census with the NTS – the commute with the other trip purposes. Or to even figure out if that’s possible at all. Whilst for the time being this remains unanswered, the gendered travel arrangements that emerged from the NTS are quite interesting in their own right. Oh, the gendered lives we lead! So here’s the definite “trip advisor” with women in continuous orange and men in dashed green. The ‘average woman’ younger than 55 years (or so) makes more trips than the ‘average man’. After that age the pendulum swings towards men. (Surely, it must be all these shopping trips! Read below.)


Women, on average, make fewer commuting trips. There is an interesting dip in the women’s 30s which may lead us seamlessly to the next graph.


The trips for the school run peak in the female 30s – it’s women between 20-50 years of age who do the school run quite a bit more than men.


In other news. More men on average get the shopping in, once they are 65 years old or thereabouts.


So then… to a point – a third or so – this shopping discrepancy is accounting for the ‘trip gap during later life’. The remainder is made up of aggregates from various other trip purposes. List of all NTS trip purposes:

  • Commuting
  • Business
  • Education
  • Escort education
  • Shopping
  • Other escort
  • Personal business
  • Visit friends at private home
  • Visit friends elsewhere
  • Sport / entertainment
  • Holiday / day trip
  • Other including just walk

I have attached my xls analysis spreadsheet for your perusal.

Private and public realm

There are some more hypotheses and observations that can be drawn out of the data set, no doubt! I’d even be interested to learn how the list of trip purposes came about. Or you could look at it longitudinally. And I would love to know why women, on average, visit their mates at home more than men would, as the NTS tells us. Could homes (still?) be the private realm that has escaped the otherwise pervasive malestreamed design of public places? Who are these women visiting? Other women? People of what age? Is it their parents? Or maybe I am just being a little bit too snoopy now.

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