Women shun cycling because of safety, not helmet hair | Helen Pidd

Roads designed by men are killing women – and stop millions from cycling

It will come as little surprise to anyone who cycles that twice as many men as women ride their bikes at least once a week, according to research from Sustrans, the cycling and walking charity. Almost three-quarters of women living in seven major UK cities never cycle for local journeys, the study found. Despite this, over two-thirds said their home town would be a better place if more people pedalled. Some 76% of women who already cycled or wanted to start said segregated lanes would help them to cycle more.

As a woman who cycles, I am often asked why so few others follow suit. Is it because of helmet hair? Or the bottom-amplifying effects of Lycra? There’s no doubt that women generally feel more pressure to look presentable than men. And although I’m rarely troubled by saddle sores, I find the logistics of cycling to work a right pain in the bum: the skanky showers, the outfit changes, the struggle to find somewhere discreet to plug in a hairdryer. And yes, I know that everyone in the Netherlands rides in their ordinary clothes, but I live in Stockport and work in Manchester: would you like to sit next to me unwashed after I’ve ridden 10 miles?

Related: Lizzie Deignan: cycling has a long way to go before men and women are equal

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