Thursday, December 20, 2012

Barriers to Biking

Today, I came across this wonderful post on 5 Barriers to Women Bicycling More.  As my part of Ohio braces for the first snowfall of the year, I find myself yearning for a little errand on my bike, knowing that I will be waiting until Spring for that to happen.

The article breaks down the barriers to women biking into five main types:

  • Risk
  • Time
  • Convenience
  • Vanity
  • Community
Please check out the whole article for more analysis, but I must admit that I have forgone biking for all of these reasons from time to time.  And, with the possible exception of vanity, I think they are equally valid for men, too.

For me, one of the top barriers is risk, including comfort issues.  I won't bike in the snow or ice.  Truthfully, I won't bike with temps in the 50s or lower.  I won't bike in the rain.  I know there are readers from very bike-centric cities that are laughing at me for this, but I don't always feel safe or comfortable in these conditions.  Add onto that the fact that some trips don't feel physically safe to me to do alone.  For example, one errand I could run involves a bike path that is very secluded; I will bike it happily with Mr. FC&G, but I won't bike alone.

Second for me is definitely vanity.  And, unlike some bikers, I have no belief that I have to be wearing spandex and biking shoes to get on my bike; I bike in A-line skirts and chunky heels half of the time.  However, there are times that I don't feel like re-doing my hair when I get to my destination, or I just don't care to bike to a meeting or a class and have to commit to a ponytail for the whole day.

Finally, there is community.  As I noted in my post on Walk Score (which has expanded into Bike Score), there is something wonderful about a community that embraces walking and biking as viable types of transportation.  One of the things I love about Key West is the bike culture.  Everyone goes everywhere on a bike, so there is no question in your mind that you will find a place to chain up your bike or that the motorists will be unaware of the possibility of bikers (so, overlapping with risk).  Also, the casual culture and the warm environment means that you will probably be wearing flip flops and comfy skirts and ponytails anyway, just to handle the climate.  There is less call to look "professional" on a daily basis (although I do love dressing up for clients, so I would miss it). The culture of your community makes a huge difference.

So what do you think?  What is standing in the way of you getting on a bike for an errand or trip each week?  Sound off below!
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  1. Hi there! I'd really love to read that article -- I'm really wanting to get my whole family biking more (we're all about frugality over here), but we can't seem to make it happen. The link above, though, is going to a YouTube video?


    1. Angela:

      Goodness, thank you! Don't know how that happened; I thought I always tested my links, but apparently I didn't. You should be able to access the article now.

      Best of luck in adding a bike trip or two to your routine!