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Thread: Why women don't cycle and what cities can do about it.

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    Default Why women don't cycle and what cities can do about it.

    Good article, which also references a study I hadn't seen go by before:

    But in 2018, the city decided to install parking-protected lanes on two corridors: 43rd Avenue and Skillman Avenue. The upgraded lanes are buffered from moving traffic by a lane of parked cars. A paint-only bike lane on nearby Queens Boulevard was left unaltered. This created a natural experiment for fitness startup Strava, whose 48 million athlete users upload activities in 195 countries. Quartz asked Strava to analyze data from its new Strava Metro 3.0 service, one of the largest aggregated and de-identified transportation datasets for cities.

    Strava’s study analyzed 11,416 bike trips by women in Queens between 2015 and 2019. The results were clear: Making streets safer increased women’s use of them dramatically. In 2019, women made nearly 40% more trips on 43rd and nearly 50% more trips on Skillman than they had in 2018. During the same period, overall trips on 43rd and Skillman remained stable, meaning men’s ridership did not increase after the bike lane upgrades. The only time a comparable increase in women’s use of 43rd and Skillman occurred was between 2015 and 2016, when cyclists had to choose alternative routes while Queens Boulevard’s bike lanes were under construction.

    As for Queens Boulevard—which once had a narrower gender gap than either of the other streets—the number of trips by women cyclists declined slightly in 2019. Provided with safer streets, women left their old routes behind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_s View Post
    Good article, which also references a study I hadn't seen go by before:

    But in 2018, the city decided to install parking-protected lanes on two corridors: 43rd Avenue and Skillman Avenue. The upgraded lanes are buffered from moving traffic by a lane of parked cars. A paint-only bike lane on nearby Queens Boulevard was left unaltered. This created a natural experiment for fitness startup Strava, whose 48 million athlete users upload activities in 195 countries. Quartz asked Strava to analyze data from its new Strava Metro 3.0 service, one of the largest aggregated and de-identified transportation datasets for cities.

    Strava’s study analyzed 11,416 bike trips by women in Queens between 2015 and 2019. The results were clear: Making streets safer increased women’s use of them dramatically. In 2019, women made nearly 40% more trips on 43rd and nearly 50% more trips on Skillman than they had in 2018. During the same period, overall trips on 43rd and Skillman remained stable, meaning men’s ridership did not increase after the bike lane upgrades. The only time a comparable increase in women’s use of 43rd and Skillman occurred was between 2015 and 2016, when cyclists had to choose alternative routes while Queens Boulevard’s bike lanes were under construction.

    As for Queens Boulevard—which once had a narrower gender gap than either of the other streets—the number of trips by women cyclists declined slightly in 2019. Provided with safer streets, women left their old routes behind.
    I would posit that this study under counted the increase by a lot. Many of the "new" riders are probably not Strava users, and Strava users are likely more confident and experienced riders, who are more likely to utilize the unprotected lanes anyway.

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    Interesting study, and I don't really doubt the overall conclusion, but I wish Strava would release the data or at least some raw numbers (e.g., number of trips by gender on each road in each month) rather than providing us with their summaries.

    In 2019, women made nearly 40% more trips on 43rd and nearly 50% more trips on Skillman than they had in 2018. During the same period, overall trips on 43rd and Skillman remained stable, meaning men’s ridership did not increase after the bike lane upgrades.
    Does this mean that men's ridership actually decreased, or that women are such a small proportion of riders on those roads that even a 50% increase didn't move the overall numbers?

    As for Queens Boulevard—which once had a narrower gender gap than either of the other streets—the number of trips by women cyclists declined slightly in 2019. Provided with safer streets, women left their old routes behind.
    If numbers on Queens Boulevard decreased only slightly and trips on 43rd and Skillman increased dramatically, then either the number of women cyclists on Queens Blvd is so large that even a small number of defectors results in a large proportional increase on 43rd and Skillman or the new bike lanes aren't actually causing women to leave Queens Blvd behind.

    This doesn't even touch the fact that we don't get to know anything about how the population of Strava users might be changing over time in these areas.

    Guess we can't know, since the data is proprietary.
    Last edited by secstate; 12-12-2019 at 11:32 AM.

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    The conclusory statement that the protected lanes are safer is unproven. It's logical, to be sure, but should not be stated as a fact. The only fact is that they felt safer to women, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

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    Just to continue with my annoyance with this sort of journalism, if we assume this is based on four full years of data, that's 1460 days. So, about 8 trips a day, split over three roads.

    How many individual women riders are we talking about in this dataset? If it's a small number, then a shift in behavior for any reason by even a few riders will translate into big effects over time in the dataset. It's really hard to attribute that to infrastructure change as opposed to some idiosyncratic factor affecting those individual riders' habits. If it's a larger number, then we just have to hope that women Strava users in Queens are somehow representative of the overall behavior of women cyclists.

    Sorry to harp on this, but these sorts of issues of basic transparency are really common in data journalism.
    Last edited by secstate; 12-12-2019 at 11:52 AM.

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    I don't know how good a study this was. However, I would not be surprised if its conclusions were true. It would parallel the finding that e-scooter users tend to be young men. Young men are known for believing they are immortal, and undertake all sorts of hazardous activity at greater rates than women or older men.

    Plus, female cyclists tend to be harassed at much greater rates than male cyclists. It is common for me to get yelled at by motorists for doing something perfectly legal--e.g., riding on the street rather than the sidewalk or taking the lane when the lane is too narrow for safe passing. Male cycling friends tell me this happens to them much more rarely. So it would make sense to me that women would ride more in protected bike lanes, which a) are safer, and b) make it clear to passing motorists that they are riding exactly where they are supposed to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by secstate View Post
    Just to continue with my annoyance with this sort of journalism, if we assume this is based on four full years of data, that's 1460 days. So, about 8 trips a day, split over three roads.

    How many individual women riders are we talking about in this dataset? If it's a small number, then a shift in behavior for any reason by even a few riders will translate into big effects over time in the dataset. It's really hard to attribute that to infrastructure change as opposed to some idiosyncratic factor affecting those individual riders' habits. If it's a larger number, then we just have to hope that women Strava users in Queens are somehow representative of the overall behavior of women cyclists.

    Sorry to harp on this, but these sorts of issues of basic transparency are really common in data journalism.
    I would not assume that the typical Strava user actually rides 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. So I think its probably more riders than are implied above.

    As for typicality, yeah we don't know, but I would be surprised if Strava users are MORE inclined to be drawn to PBLs than non-Strava users.

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    Not only is the Strava data from Strava users (obviously) it's from a further subset of Strava users who allow use of their data. Allowing access to "Metro" and "Heatmap" is in the Strava privacy settings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by secstate View Post
    Sorry to harp on this, but these sorts of issues of basic transparency are really common in data journalism.
    Very true. And even when the underlying data are in fact accessible, data journalists can often contaminate their communication with ignorance of (or willful blindness to) basic statistics.

    Here's another example. The original study involved only three cyclists (two men and one woman), and was not designed to investigate gender as a variable at all. In the summary report and local news coverage, the principal investigator was portrayed as surprised by the fact that the woman was close-passed more often than either man; he noted it as an interesting outcome but was reluctant to assert any gender conclusion for obvious reasons. But somehow it gets distributed as clickbait with the headline "drivers behave more dangerously around women cyclists".

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcalhoun View Post
    IPlus, female cyclists tend to be harassed at much greater rates than male cyclists. It is common for me to get yelled at by motorists for doing something perfectly legal--e.g., riding on the street rather than the sidewalk or taking the lane when the lane is too narrow for safe passing. Male cycling friends tell me this happens to them much more rarely. So it would make sense to me that women would ride more in protected bike lanes, which a) are safer, and b) make it clear to passing motorists that they are riding exactly where they are supposed to.
    I'm amazed at how much more honking I hear when I'm riding with my wife, on the same roads riding the same way. People suck.

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