I am the indicator species — A female cyclist’s manifesto | Her Green Life

Biking to lunch at 37 weeks

Biking to lunch at 37 weeks

In biology, indicator species are used to determine the health of a given ecological region, with their presence (or absence) indicating either good or poor conditions.
In the world of bicycle advocacy and planning, women are often considered the indicator species, as described in this Scientific American article about getting more cyclists on the roads:
Women are considered an “indicator species” for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child ­rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding. Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means these bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference.
At present in the U.S., women are far less likely than men to use bikes for transportation, and thus a city’s percentage of female bicyclists is used as one measure of a city’s “bike friendliness.”
While some female cyclists object to being referred to as an indicator species, I see it as an opportunity.
Here’s the thing.  I am that indicator species, part of the demographic being catered to by bicycle advocacy groups.  Not only am I a female cyclist, I am a parent.


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