Local women encouraged to cycle

JESSICA TASMAN-JONES
Last updated 05:00 11/06/2012

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A network of cycle ways which catered to neighbourhood errands rather than long commutes could encourage more Auckland women to pick up cycling, a researcher says.

Only a fifth of the city's cyclists are women but an Auckland researcher is trying to determine what policy changes council could make to change that.

Planning student Eva Zombori, of the University of Auckland, is surveying local women to determine how many cycle and what prevents those who don't from getting on a bike.

The survey is the second part of her research following an evaluation of past research into women's attitudes to cycling.

She said while there has not been much targeted research into women's' cycling preferences information from other studies suggest women are more safety conscious than men and tend to take shorter, multi-stop trips.

She will analyse what policy would best cater to these sort of trips in the third part of her research later this year but believes cycle ways suitable to neighbourhood errands might better cater to women's needs.

"Women are generally the ones who have multi-destination trips, so going to work, dropping children at school, picking up dry-cleaning and so on.

''That would need cycle routes to go to those destinations instead of the recreational cycle ways that go across parks and waterfronts that serve a really different function."

Previous studies have found women feel more comfortable commuting distances of three to six kilometres, whereas men surveyed feel comfortable at double that distance between 10-12km.

Zombori said planning policy often uses male figures for establishing cycleway policy.

This is not only disadvantageous for women, but other groups who might want to travel shorter distances such as the elderly, children or the disabled.

Safety is another issue, especially for women who are travelling with children, or women who are harassed by drivers tooting and yelling out windows.

However, she said encouraging cycling among women would normalise their presence on the road and reduce this behaviour.

Zombori said women don't need to be the minority when it comes to cycling because in European countries cyclists reflect the population.

"Generally there are less women cycling except in those countries where cycling is part of the culture like Germany, Netherlands, Denmark where actually women cyclists outnumber the male cyclists.

Zombori is set to finish her two year Masters at the end of this year.

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- Auckland Now

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