Issue: Gender Equity
Most of the mothers in our office did not participate in this don’t-drive experiment. Carting kids to school or out-of-the-home childcare adds another trip to the morning, one that’s often not in step with public transit or bike riding, especially with small kids. “During our bicycle-counting with our students, we are seeing twice as many men bicycle as women,” says Bruce Appleyard, an assistant professor of urban planning at San Diego State University. Other studies put the female ridership numbers at even lower levels, with women citing safety, childcare, physical fitness, and wardrobe as major barriers. When you also consider eldercare, for which women are also primarily responsible, the option to bike or bus around town becomes even more of a gender divide issue. “It can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Some women do manage it. Kudos to them, but it is not for everyone. It is also not an all-or-none proposition; a mom can use a bike as her main transportation choice regardless of where she is going if there is safe infrastructure in place.” Indeed, increasing safety is a significant part of SANDAG’s $200 million commitment to bike and pedestrian infrastructure over the next few decades. Let’s hope the schools join that effort.