Last week Cycling Australia (CA) released the results of a some research they conducted last year with female cyclists in Australia. They surveyed two groups – Cycling Australia members, and non-members who were active riders. The results were not really surprising for me, because as one of the 2,400 respondents I think I have a reasonable handle on the women’s road cycling scene in Australia. However I think the research is great for bike industry and anyone working with female road cyclists, plus it provides a benchmark for future research.
You can read the full report from Cycling Australia here. It’s not overly long but if you want a quick summary, here’s my take:
The top three challenges to riding for the majority of respondents is feeling unsafe on the road, work commitments and lack of time.
Unsurprisingly the issue of safety was high on the agenda and a deterrent for women not riding as often as they would, if they felt safer. 55 per cent of respondents said they don’t have access to safe on-road facilities. Many also said that if they had access to safer bike lanes and off-road pathways they would ride more often.
Closely linked to safer roads is the lack of confidence on the bike – 52 per cent said they want to be more confident to ride on the road in traffic. While most women in the survey identify themselves as having intermediate skills, they are still keen to find more coordinated opportunities to develop skills. It would be really interesting to see the same results if a group of male cyclists were asked the same questions! From my experience the majority of male riders already think their skills are up to scratch.
Overwhelmingly women selected fitness as the primary motivator for riding a bike and this was followed by fun, health, socialisation and challenge. Competition ranked sixth which is interesting but is reflected in the current participation rates of women in organised bike racing events. Counter to that, CA members identified advanced skills training and racing skills training as something they seek, so maybe one follows the other.
For me the most important finding was that 52 per cent of women ride on their own (which I do sometimes) and they would ride more if the had access to women who ride at the same level and access to organised riding groups. I hope in the future to do something about this one and help organise more women’s rides.
A few other interesting titbits:
On average the respondents ride three times per week with the CA members riding five to 10 hours per week and the non-members one to three hours per week
CA members own 2.4 bikes on average and recreational riders own 1.8 bikes each
On the subject of media coverage, 91 per cent enjoy reading stories about women’s cycling and 51 per cent believe that media coverage for women in cycling is improving.
The report lets itself down a bit in its ‘The Next Steps’ section. The three ongoing areas of focus are a bit wishy washy with the final one reading “Support women of all ages and abilities to pursue their cycling goals from a community to elite level”. Perhaps they are trying to achieve too much and need to be a bit more specific. Surely Cycling Australia doesn’t need to focus on every type of female cyclist.
Overall this research is an excellent initiative. Well done Cycling Australia.