Abstract for VeloCity2017

Getting more women cycling, but how?

Proposer: Katja Leyendecker, Northumbria University, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain & newcycling.org (UK)
Relevant themes: People, Governance

‘Getting more people cycling’ is a common plea made by transport authorities and cycle advocacy groups alike. It is a plea for social, environmental and economic justice. It is a plea to unlock the fun and freedom of cycling.

But the how (to achieve this laudable aim) warrants more attention and better conceptualisation too. When inspecting transport research models, one conclusion becomes rather apparent. Concentrating solely on the individual – man or woman, young or old – has provided an incomplete approach. It, for example, has led to rather unsustainable outcomes in the UK: lower and lower cycling levels whilst road safety on the whole improves. As Spotswood (2016) says, taking a systemic view is much overdue.

I argue, here, to refocus transport cycling on systemic structural issues – urban design and cycling infrastructure – to bring spatial and social inequalities to the fore. Using a whole-system approach can avert the victim-blaming effect of road safety initiatives, can engage people in the transport debate, and can provide cycle advocates with a consistent storyline to credibly communicate a tale of transport futures in our cities and towns.

In the UK, there is a current focus on ‘getting more women cycling’. I put forward the view that this must be done sensitively and sympathetically to the situation.  Moreover, I propose, putting women’s voices centre stage will benefit UK’s national cycling organisations and their progress. I will end by giving practical examples of how we can accomplish this inclusive approach.

  • Spotswood, F., Beyond behaviour change, Great Britain, Policy Press, 2016.
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