Unprotected bike lanes discriminate against women and seniors and exclude 92 percent of the population.
By Kevin Love
Published May 11, 2015
This is the first article in a five-part series entitled Building Hamilton's Protected Cycling Network.
Today's article is Part 1: Why a Protected Cycling Network? To answer this question, we have to look at the population in terms of who does and who does not engage in transportation cycling.
The Portland Model asserts that there are four demographic categories of transportation cyclists:
Four types of transportation cyclists in Portland
The "Strong and Fearless." These are people who are willing to cycle without any cycling infrastructure. They are less than 1 percent of the population.
The "Enthused and Confident." These are people who are willing to cycle on unprotected cycling infrastructure. They are about 7 percent of the population, and are disproportionately men between the ages of 18-65.
The "Interested but Concerned." This is 60 percent of the population. They will only cycle on protected or car-free infrastructure.
The "No Way, No How." This is 33 percent of the population. These people just don't like cycling. They will only cycle on protected or car-free infrastructure AND cycling must be faster, easier and more convenient than alternate means of transportation. Many members of this demographic are willing to undergo considerable inconvenience to avoid cycling and take alternate methods of transportation.
Full details and the research evidence supporting the Portland Model may be found on their official government website.
Most importantly, of a survey of 700 cities, no city in an industrialized country has been able to achieve over 8 percent cycling mode share without protected infrastructure.
However, in The Netherlands, 55 percent of cyclists are women.
Failure to provide protected cycling infrastructure means that we have a transportation system that systematically discriminates against women.
And not just women. In the USA, 0.4 percent of all trips made by people over the age of 65 are on bicycles. In The Netherlands, 25 percent of all trips made by people over the age of 65 are on bicycles.
My mother is an excellent example of this. She refuses to ride a bicycle in Ontario. Why? Traffic violence. She says, "At my age, I am not going to play tag with two-tonne lethal weapons."
The problem with unprotected bike lanes is that only 8 percent of the population will use them, and that 8 percent are predominantly men between the ages of 18-65. This type of infrastructure discriminates against women and excludes 92 percent of the population.
If we are going to build a transportation system for everybody, it has to be one of protected bike lanes.
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