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Green Lane Gets More Women Riding in LA

There’s no simple or single solution to get more women riding bikes in the U.S. In 2009, women accounted for just 24 percent of bike trips and the reasons for that under-representation are numerous and complex.

Jennifer Klausner (left) and Alexis Lantz (right) of the LACBC (Credit: Women on Bikes SoCal)

But one thing is becoming clear — specific types of facilities can dramatically impact the number of female cyclists.

The latest evidence? New data on a separated bike lane in downtown Los Angeles, California.

In late 2011, the city installed a green buffered bike lane on Spring Street, a major corridor in the downtown district. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (which, incidentally, is staffed by some phenomenal female leaders) wanted to capture the impact of the new facility, so they conducted bike counts before and after the paint went down. Released this month, the results are impressive.

Overall, riding went up 52 percent after the green lane was installed, with a particularly big jump on the weekends (250 percent). But even more eye-opening was the gender shift.

According to the LACBC:

The most encouraging news from this count is the strong gains in the number of women riding bicycles on the Spring Street lane.  

As we report in our newly-released 2011 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Report, the state of female ridership for the city as a whole is not good. The proportion of women who ride bikes in Los Angeles has remained virtually unchanged at below 20% for the past two years.

Spring Street, on the other hand, is an indicator of how in just a short while bicycle infrastructure that provides a buffer between auto traffic and the bike lane can make a big difference in the number of women who ride bicycles. 

Even accounting for the overall increase in ridership on Spring Street, the gains in female ridership are impressive. The number of female cyclists on the weekday went up 100% after the green lane was installed. On the weekend, the percentage increase was a massive 650%.

The proportion of cyclists who were women also went up. On the weekday, female cyclists were only 8% of the riders counted before the green lane was installed, but that proportion went up to 13% afterward. On the weekend only 7% of the cyclists counted were women before the green lane went in.  That proportion went up to 14% afterward.

Of course, Spring Street wasn’t the only road that witnessed a rise in women riders. The LACBC’s 2011 City of Los Angeles Bicycle & Pedestrian Count Report confirmed that, citywide, “bicycle infrastructure is positively related to the overall rate of bicycle ridership, the number of women bicyclists, and occurrence of safe bicycling practices.”

Read more and download the full report on the LACBC blog.


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