Wow! Women now the majority in family bicycling

New numbers from the consulting group GluskinTownley show something surprising: women are a majority of 'family' bicyclists.

That's something new. For years the numbers around biking have shown that men predominate in the bike lanes, and most especially, when the numbers used come from the U.S. census and specifically count bike commuters.

When marketing and research consulting group GluskinTownley looked at different data they found something interesting. For the latest 2013 report, GluskinTownley took the population of bicycle riders as published by the National Sporting Goods Association (2012 data). The NSGA data includes the age, gender, and race of the U.S. bike-riding population.

© Andy Schmidt

Using that data, its own surveys, and the help of a statistician, GluskinTownley extrapolates that approximately one-third (28%) of U.S. cyclists, or 7.8 million adults, are participating in biking as a family activity. Of those 7.8 million, a god bit over half (58%) are women.

Thinking in terms of family activities, it isn't so surprising that women predominate. After all as a whole, females still carry a heavier burden of child-rearing and all the associated trips that go with bringing up kids - school, lessons, doctors, etc.

Yet the idea that nearly 4 million women are out there doing some of those activities with kids and on bikes is somewhat of a pleasant shock, since most of us in urban biking areas think of women as the biking minority.

Prinicipal Jay Gluskin says he's not surprised by the numbers, as women in 'family biking' have increased steadily in the last three years that the company has asked a survey question about family biking.

"And it is a very broad question," Gluskin said. "'Family activity' is just one of the choices for the types of biking people do."

Gluskin said through the advice of Adonia Lugo, equity initiative manager at the League of American Bicyclists, the company will drill down further in its next survey to see exactly what 'family biking' might consist of.

"We need to get more granular, that is clear," Gluskin said. "What ages? Does it mean mom and dad with kids on the back, or everyone riding their own bike? In the next survey we want to get a clearer picture of how women are taking children with them on bikes - what family biking really means."

Gluskin says that whatever the next survey might show, women will increase their share of the cycling stream.

"What we are going to see in the data is a growing number of women in metro urban cycling, that is already happening," he said.

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