While everyone’s thoughts are on increasing the cycling mode of transportation, little public documentation exists with respect to if and how cyclist volumes are changing. While Gorski Consulting has been documenting cyclists in London since 2013, that documentation has been more robust in the last few years. Data is now available from cyclist observations in the first four months of 2023.
Overall, 280 cyclists were documented from January through April, 2023. In that total there were 240 males, 22 females and 18 whose gender could not be determined. Of the 262 observations where gender was known the percentage of observed females was only 8.40 %. In comparison, in the whole of 2021 that percentage was 13.65 and in 2022 it was 13.11%. While the 2023 numbers appear to show a reduced female volume one needs to compare apples to apples, thus we need to look at the first 4 months of 2021 and 2022.
In the first 4 months of 2021 only 98 observations were available where gender was known. Only 11 females were documented and 87 males. This led to a female rider percentage of 11.22 %. In the first 4 months of 2022 156 observations were available where gender was known. This led to a female rider percentage of 8.97%. Compared to 2023 one might be tempted to conclude that these numbers suggest that the percentage of females riders was higher in 2021 and 2022. However we are looking at small numbers of observations and, in my view, there simply is insufficient data to draw such a conclusion at this time.
Looking at the overall observations from 2021 through to the end of April, 2023, there were 1856 observations where gender could be determined. Of those, there were 1622 males and 234 females. Thus the percentage of female riders over this larger dataset is 12.61%. This larger dataset might be more indicative that, overall, the percentage of female cyclists riding along or adjacent to the streets of London, Ontario remains quite low.
It has been suggested in various research that low female cycling could be attributed to reports by females that they feel unsafe. That my be so, however this does not explain why that percentage would appear to be lower in the first four months of each year in London. Is it possible that weather conditions might also play into this relationship? Are females also less inclined to ride cycles when the weather conditions are less favourable? It would be helpful if further research could provide more concrete conclusions.
If the cycling mode of transportation is to be increased we need the involvement of the female half of the population and we need to understand why less females appear to be riding in London and if a solution can be found to increase that percentage.