Women Lead the Way For Future Growth of Cycling in North America

For the first time in US history, 60 percent of bicycle owners between the ages of 18-27 are women.

For the first time in US history, 60 percent of bicycle owners between the ages of 18-27 are women.

According to “The American Bicyclist Study: On the Road to 2020,” released in 2012 and conducted by the Gluskin Townley Group, the women of Generation Y represent an important change to who is buying and riding bicycles. To us, this is a clear indication that it’s high time for the bicycle industry to embrace the next generation of bicycle riders, a group that will represent 100 million adults in the next seven years.

The bicycle industry needs to adapt as the market shifts towards a new bicycle consumer: women who use the bicycle as a tool. A tool that serves many purposes and is used for transportation, for exercise, for spending quality time with their children, for stress relief, and, most importantly, for fun.

Women are also increasingly responsible for the growing attention paid to transportation cycling at national and regional advocacy levels.

On a national level, the League of American Bicyclists launched the Women Bike campaign in March 2012. Just one year after its launch, more than 350 community leaders gathered in Washington, DC, in March 2013 to discuss the importance of promoting cycling to women. Emerging themes at the National Women’s Bicycling Forum included equity, empowerment, and inclusion. Discussions that resonated most strongly for us demonstrated the need for the bike industry to invest in the women’s market, and for bike retailers to learn to better engage more women customers.

At the local level, Veronica O. Davis, an inspirational speaker, community leader, and motivator, co-launched the Black Women Bike organization in May 2011. Her goal in Washington, DC, is to mobilize and motivate black women to use bicycles for transportation. Davis understands that visibility is key for encouraging more women, particularly black women, to ride. Davis’ work has struck a chord in her local community. Within 48 hours of a story running in the Washington Post, and just two weeks after its formation, the group grew to 360 members. And the movement keeps growing. Davis now offers support to women that want to start similar groups in their own communities.

The growing importance of women to the bicycle industry means that we need to see product lines expand to offer a greater selection of bikes and accessories suited for daily use by women and families. We need bicycle retailers to reimagine their retail spaces in hopes of attracting more women customers. Local, regional, and national planning and advocacy conferences need to include more women to showcase and highlight how we can make significant changes and make bicycling more inclusive to everyone.

As women make their way to bike lanes and podiums across the nation, the next generation of bicycle users are leading the way towards a more inclusive bike-friendly future. Now it’s up to politicians, planners, bicycle manufacturers, and retailers to support, encourage, and embrace changes that recognize women as integral to the future of bicycling in North America.

Mia Kohout & Tania Lo, Publishers, Momentum Mag

Women & Bikes

60 percent of bicycle owners between the ages of 18-27 are women.

45 percent of bicycle owners between the ages of 28-45 are women.

49 percent of bicycle owners between the ages of 50-68 are women.

Source: Gluskin Townley Group “The American Bicyclist Study: On the Road to 2020”

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  • Mark K.

    Without the study to read and how conducted, I’m left thinking the headline is yet more bicycle statistics spin. Most households likely have one or more bicycles gathering dust in a basement, shed, or garage like old VHS tapes, but how meaningful is that data? How many bicycles do these young women own each? Just one, or multiple like many men? Owning a bike is far different from using one daily, much like having a gym membership but not using it.

  • suzannes@khsbicycles.com

    Isn’t Canada part of North America and stated in the title of the article?

  • Marilyn G.

    AlyCatNat, Since the crux of this article deals specifically with “future growth” in the cycling industry and women taking a larger role in it, I disagree that the introduction of a persons race is comparable to gender in this particular equation. Yes of course everyone should be invited to participate in cycling which was my general argument to begin with. This article specifically deals with the subject of WOMEN taking a larger role in cycling and my point was simply to be inclusive to ALL women. The fact of the matter is however, that cycling has been a MALE dominated sport/activity since the bicycle was invited and continues to be as evidenced by visiting most cycling shops, reading cycling magazines, etc.. across the country and around the world. Even the comment section in this story the majority of feedback came from the male gender. There is a change coming and manufacturers will want whatever currency women will spend on this sport just as they have enjoyed men spending on cycling for years now.
    As a woman having been told I must purchase a mans cycling specific shoes, or purchase road bikes designed for a man and after going into countless cycling shops where women’s cycling shorts and jerseys were either non existent unless you wanted to order sight unseen or were only available in very limited quantities and/or sizes I obviously have grown a bit frustrated with the process. Do we have to wonder how men would react if they were told they would have to purchase women’s cycling shoes, women’s bikes or women specific jersey’s to properly enjoy the sport? No.
    Finally I am saddened every time people talk about change and a world of inclusion and find instead those same people working to divide sometimes unintentionally due to their lack of inquisitiveness. No really, they don’t ask themselves why if I love this or that would I only want to encourage this group or that group? When you love something you want to share it with the world, not hide it for a few. There are dividers among us and some who happily believe they are doing good yet they continually divide us by race, religion, socioeconomics, skin color, and a host of other criteria. I am very happy to see more women cycling no matter who they are, what they believe, what color they are, how much they earn, etc. In short I love cycling and want everyone everywhere to enjoy the sport.

    • Jean

      Please listen to Veronica Davis’ talk on how she started the black women’s cycling group in the Washington, DC. She is dynamic speaker and has a natural gift to reach anyone. (Do remember that the writers of this article were inspired by her and they aren’t black. So her inspiration is to all.)
      Marilyn: What is wrong if there is a black women’s cycling group? She is encouraging positively cycling and herself is a role model. No, the intention is not to divide women by colour, race and dilute cycling passion.
      The total opposite: sometimes it requires a role model cyclist to speak directly to those who look like themselves. If race was not a problem, then there would be already a ton of Afro-American (or Afro-Canadian) women cycling regularily by now. I think we are forgetting that bicycling….is both a solitary and social activity. For some people, the sense of belonging to a broader community, ie. Others who bike with him they feel intuitively comfortable.
      Since North America still tends to create different cycling cultures to reach out to participant streams: mountain bikers, chic /hipster, commuters (how ordinary ),competitive racers, etc….there is sometimes the cliquishness that happens. So it does require a newbie to be slightly on the margins, unless they just jump in. Or just continue to ride their bike as part of their daily lifestyle. Ultimately the latter is what we want to achieve.
      @ http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com

  • AlyCatNat

    One could compare the introduction of race into this equation as comparable to the introduction of gender to this equation, surely all people should be encouraged to ride bicycles for transportation? If women cycle less and therefore need extra encouragement and consideration, surely if black women cycle less they also deserve the same extra encouragement. I don’t feel that a “Black Women Bike” organization will keep this white woman from riding my bike, nor do I feel that such a group will somehow be using up resources that should be shared by all women cyclists (attention, perhaps?). Also, the authors are pictured at the top, and they don’t look like gentlemen to me.

  • Darryl J.

    While I can see the points made by some of the responders that the story reduces women to mere consumers, that responder missed the call to action for bicycle advocacy. But the story missed specifics regarding bicycling surface infrastructure which is a huge factor in getting people on bicycles. The article’s request for better relationship between bicycle industry, i.e. store and manufacturers, is a legitimate concern. But that is changing. Stores and manufacturers are building to women’s body proportions but still the market is still proportioned to the male recreational market.
    The race aspect was mentioned not to be special invite to one group but to illustrate the pent-up demand and potential for more women riders. If another race was mentioned I suspect there be a similar story.
    In the last ten years I’ve been riding more and more women are racing and participated in group rides, tours, and wearing Lycra as loudly as men. But more people, women and men, would be welcome to ride bikes as “tools” or machines of conveyance for the routine errands of daily life, in regular civilian clothes, and on city streets and bike ways.
    My humble 2¢

  • DavidP

    It’s like rain on your wedding day! Or a free ride when you’ve already paid.

  • Naomi

    I’m not convinced that this article good for all the right reasons.
    The statistic that headlines this article is good news for anybody who could stand to make a profit from the most targeted demographic in society; women aged 18-27. According to this, the way that women can “lead the way” to happier cycling future is to do what they are best at, buying things. This article sees women as customers only, not true pioneers.

  • Daven

    The picture above the fold seems to be of Vancouver, which is not in the U.S.

  • Marilyn G.

    While I welcome articles expressing the need for the cycling industry to be more inclusive to women I have two concerns with this article, the first being the introduction of race into this equation. Women are women the world over regardless of race. We all share the same hopes, dreams, passions, etc. Why must we be told that one segment of our female population should be welcomed more than any other? This statement is divisive at best. Let’s encourage ALL WOMEN to participate in cycling shall we? Rich, poor, tall, short, fat, skinny, ALL WOMEN. My second concern with this article is that it appears sexist in that it points out that women are using the bicycle as a tool, “A tool that serves many purposes and is used for transportation, for exercise, for spending quality time with their children, for stress relief, and, most importantly, for fun.” Gentlemen, women are also competitors and want to be recognized as such in the cycling community, not merely as using their bikes as tools for stress, fun and exercise. The good ole’ boys club of competitive cycling is alive and well. Let’s hope the jocks in the cycling industry get the message that it’s time they too became all inclusive and welcomed female cyclists as competitors instead of treating women as their own tools.

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