Biking by Numbers #3: Calling all Women (and men)

There was such a big response (in my little bloggosphere) about my post Biking by Numbers #1, that I was encouraged to create a survey to try to get to the crux of the disparity (in Milwaukee specifically) between the number of women and men who bike to work. 

To review, according to the US Census data, only about 13% of bicycle commuters in Milwaukee are women. But in other comparable cities, even those with similar overall mode splits, 24%-40% of the commuters are women.  This survey will try to answer what it is about Milwaukee that is so discouraging to women. But if you are a woman who does bike to work please fill out the survey too.  We want to find out why women do bike as well as why they don’t.

Men, you are also encouraged to take the survey too.  I designed it so the results could be split between men and women when we analyze the data later.  I am interested in why men do or don’t ride to work as well.  So guys, please take the time to fill it out too. 

What if you don’t live in Milwaukee? Take the survey anyway. More data is always better than less data, and we can separate Milwaukee answers from other answers in the analysis.

I will probably close the survey in a fairly short time period, so please don’t delay.  And spread the word/pass the link to everyone you know.  The bigger the pool of respondents, the more statistically meaningful the survey will be.

here to take the survey: I wanna count

If the link above does not work, paste this in your browser:


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Biking by the Numbers, Women. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Biking by Numbers #3: Calling all Women (and men)

  1. Anne says:

    I’ve volunteered for bike traffic counts here in Chicago a few times. Each time, it’s been a Loop or near-Loop location at morning rush hour. Riders have been 2/3 to 3/4 men. I’ve puzzled over the lack of women myself. Perhaps it’s a testosterone thing.

    From conversations with people I know, I get the impression that women are often more intimidated by heavy traffic, especially in the Loop. Club riding can help some to learn traffic skills and overcome their fear. It was a huge help to me when I had just moved back from out of state and wasn’t used to riding in heavy traffic.

    If I narrow down my list of skills and practices to the most essential for survival in rush hour commuting, my list would be:

    1. Become familiar with typical traffic patterns along your route and ride predictably with them.

    2. Watch these two videos and use the knowledge in them to learn more as your ride. Some of this information is specific to Chicago, but much of it is useful for city riding in general.

    3. Maintain your bike well and work actively to improve your bike handling skills, especially sudden braking and swerves. Upgrading the brakes on my commute bike was some of the best money I’ve ever spent, as it has helped me to avoid many potential accidents.

    The underlying principle I use in any city riding is this: do NOT show fear, even if you *are* scared. If you look confident and ride well, drivers are less likely to take advantage of you.

    Practice riding in low-traffic areas to build confidence in your riding skills. Observation of traffic and pavement conditions should be part of this. As you become more confidence, start observing more patterns and devising strategies to respond to them. It will make your riding safer AND more satisfying.

    • daveschlabowske says:


      Great comment. Are you still in Chicago or in Milwaukee now? If you are in Milwaukee, do you see anything different here that may cause even fewer women to bike to work in Milwaukee? Milwaukee women are 50% less likely to bike to work as women in Chicago.

      My survey is not showing anything obvious so far. But one idea I had was that the culture in Miwlaukee is to drive, but Chicago is much more difficult to drive in than Milwaukee, so women there are more likely to bike to work just to avoid driving or taking transit. In Milwaukee we may still have the same or similar culture and because it is so easy to drive and cheap to park, few women bike to work here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s