The New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center is pleased to announce the release of a new report that examines the factors that influence women’s transportation mode choice as well as their perceptions of bicyclists and bicycling. In addition, input was collected on the types of strategies and improvements that might induce women to consider bicycling more for transportation or recreational purposes.

A mother and daughter bicycling in New Brunswick, NJ.

A mother and daughter bicycling in New Brunswick, NJ.

According to the US Census, women consistently bicycle less than men and this gender gap has increased over the last decade. Considering this as an emerging issue, the New Jersey Bicycle & Pedestrian Resource Center held four focus groups that provided information about the indicators that might discourage women from bicycling amongst three different ethnic groups: Black, Latino and White women. Focus group discussions explored a variety of topics including participants’ transportation choices, responsibilities, perceptions of safety and bicycling experiences.

A young woman bicycling in New Brunswick, NJ.

A young woman bicycling in New Brunswick, NJ.

Respondents reported four common influences on their mode choice; personal safety, time, convenience and road safety. Comfort was identified as the main incentive for driving. Household responsibilities, such as transporting children, were also noted as influencing mode choice.

  • Most of the participants in Camden, New Brunswick and Newark were far less likely to picture a woman riding a bicycle as compared to men or children;
  • In contrast, Montclair’s participants described a “typical” cyclist as female;
  • A family bicycling in New Brunswick, NJ.

    A family bicycling in New Brunswick, NJ.

    Bicycle infrastructure and its relation to comfort and safety was a major topic across the four groups;

  • All surveyed women expressed that they do not feel comfortable riding on roads with traffic, especially with high volume traffic and/or high-speed;
  • The vast majority of the participants agreed that conventional bike lanes usually offer minimal comfort compared to physically separated or protected bike lanes.

In light of these findings, the report concludes with a series of recommendations for planners, policy makers and local government officials. Recommendations cover a variety of opportunities ranging from infrastructure improvements to bike share programs to partnerships with law enforcement, non-profits and bicycle groups.

You can download a copy of the full report here.

The New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (BPRC) assists public officials, transportation and health professionals, and the public in creating a safer and more accessible walking and bicycling environment through primary research, education, and dissemination of information about best practices in policy and design. The Center is supported by the New Jersey Department of Transportation through funds provided by the Federal Highway Administration.