Innovative app reveals cycling gender divide in Hackney


New app reveals that women tend to stop biking in their middle-age years. Pic: waterford_man

A gender divide in cyclists has been revealed by an innovative cycling app produced by Hackney Council.

The app has revealed that women tend to stop biking during their middle-age years whereas men continue to ride later on in life.

The statistics were revealed after Hackney launched the app, which has recorded 1, 700 journeys since its introduction in June. Its purpose was to help the Council improve the roads and cycling routes.

The app, which is free for cyclists to download, also identified that the majority of female users between 25-44 years old preferred cycling on quiet routes whereas men tend to cycle on main roads and continue to cycle until into their retirement years.

A DfT study of a sample of 3,155 adults living in England found that 63 per cent of potential cyclists surveyed agreed that they would ‘find cycling on the roads stressful’ and that 60 per cent said it was ‘too dangerous to cycle on the roads’.

Dr. Rachel Aldred, a senior Lecturer in Transport at University of Westminster, said: “I think the evidence clearly shows that women on average tend to be more deterred by motor traffic than men. There is little evidence related to age, but what evidence there is suggests there may be a similar pattern as people get older. Therefore the two could combine to mean that older women are particularly under-represented among cyclists, where roads are hostile for cycling – as unfortunately is still the case on many of London’s streets.”

Statistics taken from 600 registered users of the app in Hackney discovered that 70 per cent of the registered women prefer to use their bikes for commuting to and from work only. On the other hand, men tend to cycle for both work and social journeys.

Mark Mihajlovic, a passionate London cyclist, said: “I think women more accurately assess the risk and don’t want the stress; whereas men have more testosterone and are willing to take on a challenge.”

Daisy Samuel, a London student and regular cyclist agreed that safety is most likely the deterrent for females. She said: “It probably has to do with being more aware of the dangers of cycling as you grow older.

“I think as women approach middle age they become increasingly aware of how much they have to lose by taking the risk of cycling in London, whereas men tend to be blinded by ego and the practicality of bike versus bus.”

According to Hackney’s transport strategy of 2014, the borough has the highest number of residents cycling to work in London – 15.4% of all commuter journeys. In 2011, a ‘cycle to work versus car journeys’ survey found that 12.8% of commuters drove and 15.4% cycled to work in Hackney.

Aldred, an elected trustee of the London Cycling Campaign suggested a reasoning behind the number of cyclists in the borough:  “One thing that works particularly well at the moment in Hackney is that cycling is generally permitted in parks – evidence shows cyclists generally value green space and pleasant environments.”

Hackney are the first council in London to launch a free cycling app that enables cyclists to track their journey around the borough and report problems on the road via their camera on their phones.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said:  “The ultimate aim of this app is to collect enough data to continue to make cycling in Hackney as easy and as simple as possible.

“But we’re also accumulating really interesting data about who is cycling in our borough and why. The more info we have about who, why and where people are travelling the better we can plan our future transport provision and encourage those not cycling to get pedaling.”

The main aim of the app is to build better bike routes; repair potholes overcome barriers to biking, tackle cycle parking deficiencies, and understand why cyclists are travelling along certain routes while avoiding others.

Cllr Demirci added: “In the immediate-term, it also helps to fix problems now – one user reported a pothole on Chatsworth Road, which is repaired, while 70 more reports have been added to our works programme.”

The app appears to have had a positive reaction from cyclists in the borough. Hackney Cyclist said: “A clear and easy way to report road issues to the council are always best, rather than having to trawl through the council website to find the right person to email. I hope Hackney council make improvements to roads that are reported to them through the app.”

Ethan Ohs, from Hackney is also a fan of the app. He said: “Rather than having to put a cycle computer on my bike I can track my basic miles with little effort.”

Although the app is revealing new statistics, Rachel Aldred believes that marketing plays a key role in encouraging more women to cycle. She argued that “representation of diverse groups in marketing and promotional material are vital- it’s good to see more women cyclists portrayed but it would be good to show more older women riding.”

You can download the app for free from the Apple App Store and Google play.

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