One measure of a city’s progress in embracing cycling for transportation and recreation is Bicycle Friendly Community designation, ranging from bronze to platinum levels, awarded by the League of American Cyclists. I often refer to the gender imbalance in bicycle commuting in New York City and nationally, so it was refreshing to discover in the League’s most recent Bicycle Friendly America Guide a list of 10 communities where female commuters outnumber their male counterparts. We tip our helmets to the women of:
- Charlotte, NC (pop. 734,418) 52 vs 48 (female vs male)
- Fresno, CA (496,147) 51 vs 49
- Kansas City, MO (460,665) 58 vs 42
- Knoxville, TN (179,226) 54 vs 46
- Las Cruces, NM (98,239) 70 vs 30
- Lawrence, KS (92,718) 58 vs 42
- Orlando, FL (239,037) 68 vs 32
- Santa Fe, NM (68,157) 74 vs 26
- Sioux Falls, SD (153,959) 100 vs 0
- Vancouver, WA (162,430) 51 vs 49
Source: 2010 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau
To paraphrase the words of the deli patron played by Estelle Reiner (below) in When Harry Met Sally, “We’ll have what they’re having in New Mexico.”
The broader question is: “What is that?” The League’s measures of bicycle friendliness, as assessed through an extensive application submitted to the organization and outside evaluators, are known as the 5 Es: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation. When it comes to attracting more women to bicycling — especially those who may be curious about two-wheeled transportation, but for whom barriers remain — what combination of those ingredients constitutes the magic recipe?
Did you know? New York City received gold BFC distinction in 2011 — up a level from the previous year, a sign of this city’s continuing commitment to integrate cycling into its public transportation system.
Photo: simms54 Flickr