Sustrans, in association with a number of cities, has produced an excellent “Bike Life – Women: reducing the gender gap” report. Go read it. It really shows the way our Highways Engineers have excluded women (and men) from taking up cycling. This gender gap is born out in many studies with around 28% of people that cycle being women in the UK, vs 55% in Netherlands
There is a big big problem in Highways and the DfT. Being an engineering profession I suspect it is also dominated by men and this directly impacts the design process “I would ride that.”.
However this report also showed something interesting.
People do not want traffic free routes as much as they want physical separation because traffic-free, away from roads, to put it bluntly, are ideal routes to be sexually attacked or mugged.
What people want is physical separation on existing road infrastructure where they know other people are around. Where there is lighting and this is cheap to achieve using off the shelf products.
It really is a case of what we prioritise on our existing roads and policies must reflect that.
We want on-road cycle routes
Because the reality is that we have been promoting and encouraging cycling for decades, but we have failed to enable cycling and the barriers to cycling are not about providing nice, away from the road, traffic free cycle routes, but about direct, on road, socially safe routes that get people from A to B quickly.