Does the Gender Disparity in Engineering Harm Cycling in the U.S.?

Research has shown that women are more comfortable biking on protected bike lanes, but the male-dominated engineering profession has discouraged this type of street design. Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

A study published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health finds that highly influential transportation engineers relied on shoddy research to defend policies that discourage the development of protected bike lanes in the U.S. In their paper, the researchers point out that male-dominated engineering panels have repeatedly torpedoed street designs that have greater appeal to female cyclists.

The research team, led by Harvard public health researcher Anne Lusk, examines four engineering guides published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials between 1974 and 1999. All of these guides, treated like gospel by engineers across the country, either discourage or offer no advice about protected bike lanes, despite the fact that research has shown that women, in particular, are much more likely to bike given facilities that provide some separation from vehicle traffic.

Lusk found that many of AASHTO’s official claims regarding the purported safety problems of protected bike lanes were offered without supporting evidence. AASHTO refused to consider data demonstrating the proven safety record of protected bike lanes outside of the United States. And since there have been almost no protected bike lanes in the U.S. until quite recently, AASHTO based its position against protected bikeways on domestic street designs like sidewalk bikeways, not real bike lanes designed specifically to integrate physically protected bicycling into the roadway.

The researchers came to this rather damning conclusion: “State-adopted recommendations against cycle tracks, primarily the recommendations of AASHTO, are not explicitly based on rigorous and up-to-date research.”

Lusk and her team carried out a safety study of their own, examining crash reports on protected bike lanes in 19 U.S. cities. They found that protected bike lanes had a collision rate of about 2.3 per million kilometers biked — lower than the crash rates other researchers have observed on streets without any bike lanes. (Those rates vary from 3.75 to 54 crashes per million kilometers.)

Lusk’s research also suggests the lack of gender balance in the engineering profession may have contributed to the resistance to protected bike infrastructure. Researchers found that in 1991 and 1999, AASHTO’s Bikeway Planning Criteria and Guidelines were written by a committee made up of 91 and 97 percent men, respectively.

“The AASHTO recommendations may have been influenced by the predominantly male composition (more than 90%) of the report’s authors,” Lusk writes.

AASHTO’s refusal to endorse protected bike lanes has been a major deterrent to their adoption across the United States and has contributed to the nation’s low cycling rates, undermining public health, the report suggests. Where protected bike lanes have been adopted in places like New York, Washington, and Chicago, cycling rates have increased (as much as 200 percent on one DC street). But many cities with more conservative transportation engineering departments are hesitant to implement designs that haven’t been explicitly endorsed by AASHTO. Even the organization’s most recent bikeway guide does not include protected bike lanes, even though they are now in place in 32 cities around the U.S.

“Without inclusion of cycle tracks in the commonly adopted AASHTO guide, without US-based cycle track research, and without public health and transportation policies in support of cycle tracks, it will continue to be difficult to create cycle track networks,” Lusk and her fellow researchers write. “As a result of these and many other historical reasons, the default bicycle facility in the United States remains a bike lane painted on a road, in which many bicyclists do not feel comfortable or safe.”

  • Joe R.

    Nobody is saying it won’t work here, only that we’re unwilling to spend the money to design a really comprehensive system. Instead, we’ll slap a poorly designed cycle track along a road for 1 mile, then suddenly dump cyclists back into the motor traffic stream because we either have no money to continue the path, or NIMBYs in that area didn’t want it.

    I personally don’t consider driveways a major issue because they seldom create cross traffic. It’s intersections which are the problem. I’ve yet to see any protected cycle path in the Netherlands which is interrupted by intersections as frequently as the ones on the Manhattan avenues are. In a similar situation, I would guess the Dutch would spend the money and go for complete grade separation as nothing else is really efficient or safe.

  • Marco Anderson

    VC v Infrastructurists is my favorite planning soap opera. Probably because both sides have merit. I have a friend who calls VC absolutists the Tea Party of Bike Advocacy. They might be right in a narrow technical sense, but as an idealogy it is completely impractical. Bike Advocacy was dominated by VC absolutists for more than 30 years which resulted in 0% increase in bike usage. VC absolutists have never been able to demonstrate a political agenda other than to say no. I don’t know of any jurisdiction that has instituted wide spread cycling education. A VC absolutist will say that if infrastructure can be blames for a single death than it is a failure, while ignoring all the deaths that were caused by lack of infrastructure as examples of uneducated bicycle “drivers”. So it comes down to a question of the individual versus society.

  • Joe R.

    Admittedly, VC absolutists are a big problem, but most who come from the VC camp are not that extreme. They fight against bad cycling infrastructure, not against ALL cycling infrastructure. Case in point-protected cycle tracks. Those work great on roads with few or no intersections. They protect cyclists from fast-moving cars, and make them feel safer as well. However, if you stick them in places with a tight grid pattern, they may make things worse in that they give cyclists the illusion of safety, but in fact do nothing at junctions where most collisions occur.

    The second problem is funding. Cycling advocates like to say they helped get x miles of bike infrastructure built. Of course, that means opting for whatever costs less, even if it’s less safe. Case in point is using protected cycle tracks on roads with many intersections when the only solution which is truly safe and efficient is total grade separation. Of course, that might mean only 2 miles of bike infrastructure instead of 30, so they opt for the cheaper solution. In the long term we might not even be having these debates if cycling infrastructure routinely received 1/10th of what we spent on motor vehicle infrastructure. We would just use whatever is appropriate for the situation, whether it’s grade separation, partial grade separation (i.e. at junctions only), protected cycle tracks, or even just painted lanes.

  • Marco Anderson

    I agree with your outlook, but arguing against bad infrastructure comes off as “making the perfect the enemy of the good.” And infrastructurists have come to realize that 2 miles of infrastructure a year does not raise cycling rates. Two miles of perfect bike lanes represents tokenism. 30 miles of imperfect lanes are a network and represent a viable alternative to driving. And raising rates and therefore overall visibility is the key to winning the political and public relations battle that leads to a virtuous cycle.

    Most VC don’t provide alternatives to the funding problem. They just argue about which study has more merits. For all the faults the infrastrucurists have shown more progress in the last 5 years than VC absolutists showed over the previous 30. I would like a VC absolutist like Ian Brett Cooper above to say with a straight face “By blocking unsafe bike lanes I’ve saved X number of lives over XX years.”

  • Actual costs aside, gas tax receipts for 2010 were $37.8bn – during that transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU), “$39.4 billion went to highways, most of which was used to expand
    and upgrade the Interstate highway system; some $10 billion went
    annually to mass transit.”

    One could say that the $19.5bn General Fund Transfer in March 2010 covered 100% of Transit, and 25% of highway.

    I would propose doing away with such a system and funding all federal transportation projects directly from the general fund.

    That would keep the whole “drivers pay” excuse out of the cost-to-benefit analysis.

  • Also consider that Federal Highway money is generally only used for new stuff – basically screwing older areas in favor of “new” ones.

    Highway money cannot be used for street maintenance.

  • khalil

    I wrote the bike plan for my county and have seen it implemented. It pains me to have seen several cyclists hit and knocked down at “coffin corner” bike lanes that resulted, unintentionally, from a change in design caused by a cut in funding and a policy decision by the county to not add roadway width to do several intersections properly. So while my work was designed to increase cycling, it has also made it unintentionally more dangerous to new cyclists who are not saavy enough to see these problems.

    There are several issues here one can worry about without being cast as a card carrying VC or a card carrying Paint and Path guy.

    1. As Joe says, the best designs are often sacrificed to cost cutting. Is it better to take a substandard design over an approach that leaves cycling clearly integrated into traffic?
    2. Do special facilities routinely increase the harassment cyclists get when they use the roads rather than the special facilities?
    3. Should facilities, even cycletracks, be sold as “8 to 80” facilities that negate the need for cyclists to be trained in how to ride in traffic? Even other bicycle traffic?
    4. How dangerous is cycling, actually? If it is, on a per hour exposure basis, similar to driving, do we need to do anything at all?

    5. Is it better to concentrate on protecting cyclists, or should we be attacking the bigger problem, which is the lax safety record and competency that is endemic in U.S. driving and which affects motorists, pedestrians, and ourselves?

    6. Sure, the perfect is the enemy of the good, but should we restrict cycletracks and other facilities to less compromised locations rather than as Joe says, putting them where they increase risk for naive cyclists?

    We folks on these lists spend a lot of time fighting each other, but the fact is, we are pointing our guns inward rather than outward. For shame.

  • Jack Jackson

    Maybe if you broads would stop taking home ec and start taking some math, you could spend the next 20 years catching up

  • Marco Anderson

    Khalil & Joe R.

    This is exactly the kind of conversation we can have here on Streetsblog, so I don’t necessarily see this as a circular firing squad but rather a healthy debate. Here are my thoughts on your points.

    1. Is it better to take a substandard design over an approach that leaves cycling clearly integrated into traffic? – Yes, because what you see as “clearly integrated” most non-VC trained cyclists and motorists see as “ignored”.

    2. Do special facilities routinely increase the harassment cyclists get when they use the roads rather than the special facilities? – Maybe, but in a cost benefit analysis over time increasing mode-split is the be all end all of gaining political (ie. financial) backing.

    3. Should facilities, even cycletracks, be sold as “8 to 80” facilities that negate the need for cyclists to be trained in how to ride in traffic? Even other bicycle
    traffic? – This is my biggest pet peeve about VC; there is a call for more training, but I never see a policy program for training. What is the political/policy path for more training? Incorporation into licensing standards? Offering it through schools? Where is the program for widespread training? Every effort I see is willing individual by willing individual, and that is not a movement, that is a hobby.

    4. How dangerous is cycling, actually? If it is, on a per
    hour exposure basis, similar to driving, do we need to do anything at all? – Again, from my perspective it comes down to perceived risk. I know that is exactly what infrastructurists are accused of, and in my case its true. Growing the number of cyclists is the only way to win political battles.

    5. Is it better to concentrate on protecting cyclists, or should we be attacking the bigger problem, which is the lax safety record and competency that is endemic in U.S. driving and which affects motorists, pedestrians, and ourselves? – We should concentrate on the areas where we can have impact. There is always a “bigger problem” out there. Efforts should be targeted where we can achieve results, not where we can wage quixotic battles against systemic failures. See the LA campaign for “Life before License”. Great sound bite that tackles the big picture in a bite sized piece.

    6. Sure, the perfect is the enemy of the good, but should we restrict cycletracks and other facilities to less compromised locations rather than as Joe says, putting them where they increase risk for naive cyclists? – I do agree that cycletracks need to be well engineered and need dedicated lights especially two way cycletracks on one side of the road. I think they should be placed where they are needed. Where there will be good usage, and where they will connect major destinations. I definately can agree that cycletracks shouldn’t have lots of curb cuts, that is just ridiculous.

  • khalil

    Regarding #3. I think both driver’s ed and bike ed should be mandatory in our schools.

  • khalil

    Does this list need moderation?

  • Joe R.

    Marco,

    I fall into the camp that if the only alternative due to financial or NIMBY constraints is bad infrastructure, then often no infrastructure is a better alternative. The big problem as I already mentioned with many cycling advocates is that they like to point to x miles of bike lanes as one of their accomplishments. This is good if all of those bike lanes are really crucial pieces of a larger bike network. However, often we’ll see a push to build yet another cycle track on a road which is two blocks away from a road which already has good cycling facilities. Case in point- the obsession to stick cycle tracks on many, perhaps eventually all, of the Manhattan avenues. Had I been in change. I would have enhanced the existing greenways on the Hudson and East Rivers. The former is already a major bicycle route. Both of these greenways are free of motor traffic, and largely free of intersections (except at a few docks). To complement them, I would have had maybe two elevated bike routes along two of the Manhattan avenues, each roughly 1/3 of the way from the shores. Manhattan is 2 miles wide or less, so this means no matter where you are, you would be not much more than half a mile from a rapid, car-free north-south route. You take that route to get as close to your destination as possible, then go cross-town to whatever avenue you need to go to. Most of the on-street riding would be on cross streets which are slow and fine for cycling without special infrastructure. I would also install elevated cross town lanes at key cross streets, like 4th, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 50th, 59th, etc. to create a nice grid which gets you within 1/2 mile or less of your final destination. Some of these cross-town bike els would connect to the East River bridges. By keeping on-street cycling to slow streets, I wouldn’t need to make any changes at street level.

    Remember when one looks at nearly any street grid, you already have a lot of slow, low traffic streets suitable for the “last mile”, often with few or no changes. In some cases, traffic calming by installing speed bumps is all that is needed. The goal of a bicycle network should be solely to fill the gaps between these streets by building good infrastructure along arterials. Yes, that probably means fewer miles of bike infrastructure, but here you’re cherry picking by building only what is really needed to fill out the network.

  • invisiblehand

    Why would they be angry in the first place?

    FWIW, I’ve found that most parents are surprised by the relative risk of automobiles to their children. So yes, there are plenty of people willing to have rational discussions on traffic planning.

  • invisiblehand

    I don’t think we give up on segregated lanes. I think we have to reconsider when segregation is appropriate. I argue that places with lots of intersections should be addressed in other ways before hiding cyclists on the other side of a row of cars/trees/whatever.

    For instance, it would make more sense to make 15th ST NW open to two way traffic and have a bike lanes if the speed limit was going to remain … 30/35 mph? … I can’t remember at the moment. To give a counter example where I think segregation probably doesn’t hurt anyone consider Columbia Pike heading out of Pentagon City crossing over 395 into “South Arlington”. Speaking broadly, I think it’s most important to maintain a grid of streets with a slower residential feel. I also think some legislative changes would be effective as well … defining liability in a more favorable way for pedestrians and cyclists.

    It’s not up to date — when time allows, I read whatever literature comes and I try to update my beliefs — but you should get a good idea of my thoughts.

    http://washingtonwheelman.blogspot.com/2010/12/advocate-safer-robust-and-efficient.html

  • invisiblehand

    The more reasonable conclusion from the study, IMO, is that when people ride faster they are more likely to go to the hospital when they get into a collision.

  • Educated female

    There are inherent structural and institutional barriers that have to be broken and rebuilt – not unlike the AASHTO regulations in this very scenario- in order for women to begin to thrive in fields presently dominated by men.

  • khalil

    It says 10 sites. It doesn’t say 10 separate cycletracks. Its kind of imprecise what they are talking about. I wish there was an actual set of map coordinates or something. In an ideal world, one would look at different flavors of cycletracks/buffered bike lanes, and calculate risk factors for each one, i.e. those without curbcuts and those with a lot of curbcuts, for example.

  • FL

    Anne Lusk sounds like an ignorant traffic engineer basher who hates men.

  • FL

    Sexist my behind. It sounds like stereotyping and scapegoating to me when you generalize engineers like that.

  • FL

    The article is a repeat of before – when good cycling facilities are around, everyone uses them and feels safer. However, the author decides to throw in some male-bashing at the same time. Every place is unique. Just because something works in the Netherlands for the Dutch doesn’t mean it will work in the US. Different laws, culture, education, enforcement, thinking, etc. necessitates looking at how people driving, biking, walking interact with each other in each unique community. Blinding following the Dutch Transportation Guidelines is foolish. What US transportation engineers ARE doing is taking the best of the other guidelines and combining with our guidelines to create our own unique set of guidelines to fit the US population.

    A great example of this hybrid is the NYC “mixing” zone. Bikes have the right of way and drivers must yield to them before entering the zone to make a right turn. It eliminates the right turn hook problem blocked by parked cars that the old cycle tracks had. This mixes the traditional USA way and the Dutch cycletrack of cars making a right turn at intersections. I even feel this is superior to the Dutch way.

    Streetsblog should remove this article immediately as it is just another bullshit traffic engineering bashing article. Now includes gender bashing! Ugh. After reading this, I will definitely not donate to Streetblog.

  • The charges of male-bashing here are a little hard to take. Sexism can be subtle. It often takes the form of men in power making decisions that make sense to them. If women aren’t at the table when those decisions get made — and they’re not, with 91 to 97 percent of the people in the AASHTO bikeway planning room being men — women clearly run the risk of having their needs and preferences ignored. That is obvious and indisputable.

    Then the question is just, do women have different needs and preferences? It’s hard to say. Certainly, something about bicycle infrastructure, designed primarily by men, isn’t working for a lot of women: We make up only 1 out of every 4 cyclists on the road.

    So please spare me the hypersensitive “reverse sexism” argument. When women tell you that the power structure is somehow omitting their concerns, please just listen for a minute before you fly off the handle.

  • Perhaps someone needs to look at the numbers of women entering the engineering professions, especially traffic engineering, and get those numbers up higher (our county traffic manager is a woman). While authors like Lusk come from the public health field, I’d like to hear from some women PEs, transportation engineering Ph.D.s, and the like and get their spin on whether the designs “that have greater appeal to female cyclists” pass their own PE laugh tests. Its one thing to say that research tells us that woman want to be separated from traffic. Its quite another to build a facility that passes sound engineering principles. If women’s engineering math is different than men’s, we have a bit of a problem, don’t we?

    As far as Lusk et al, many of their publications gleefully endorse separated facilities. This smacks more of “advocacy research” than dispassionate investigation. Public health professionals obviously have a dog in the fight to getting more people active. Getting them active is fine. Putting them in a coffin corner bike lane ain’t so fine.

    Thank you.

  • Joe R.

    Despite the inroads women have made into other areas of the workforce, there’s a notable absence of women in ALL engineering disciplines, including mine (electrical engineering). I think this seriously needs to be addressed because I don’t buy the silly arguments often given for this like “girls find math hard”. Baloney. The US is failing at getting ALL students interested in math and science at an early age. And I think our educational system tends to steer females towards disciplines other than science/engineering. Yes, to some extent “old boy” networks are to blame, but I think the fundamental problem starts at the grade school level. Believe me, many men, me included, would welcome more women into engineering with open arms. That’s not going to happen however until our educational systems strongly support anyone interesting in math/science at a young age.

  • What Joe R. said. I spent 11 years as a member of a graduate faculty in geosciences prior to taking a national lab job. Some of our finest students were women and the women on our graduate faculty were second to none. Its been a decade since I left the ivory tower, so I don’t know present day demographics. I think we need to continue breaking down barriers to women at the graduate degree level.

    On a separate question, is there indeed a closed engineering society enforced by grumpy old men, or are fewer women then men interested in it? We tend to think every gender imbalance problem is due to sexism, but perhaps that argument begs the question. How do people get recruited into engineering disciplines?

    I concur on the deeper level problems in the U.S. educational system. We are falling behind other countries in math and science teaching and that ain’t good.

  • FL

    Please spare me the nonchalant ignorance of your absurd response.

    Many professions have more men than women in power making positions. I guess you think most other businesses and professions are also biased against women too. Why not rat them out too? Ugh. But, it just seems easy to pick on bashing traffic engineers again and again (which is getting really tiring by the way…).

    Women are more than welcome on the AASHTO committees, but they are not there probably because there are not many of them as is pointed out in the other comments below. From my limited exposure, I feel there is a bit of an uptick in the number of women in the engineering field now, there is plenty of room for improvement. That is a flaw in this article – it dates back to 1970s, 80s and 90s. I am sure there were even fewer women in engineering AND other professions back then too. Women were just starting to make strides in the professional world, so why single out traffic engineering? It just goes to show how narrow-minded the supporters of this article are.

  • FL

    What Joe R. said too. Unfortunately, articles like this don’t help the matter either. It only gives girls the impression of, “Why bother? Engineering is full of women-hating men.”

  • What is the average age of the folks on these committees? If these committees were made up of younger professional engineers, I would expect to see more than a token number of women involved. Here in New Mexico, ALL our chief district engineers are indeed men. I wonder if women even apply. Is there a woman PE reading this who can comment?

  • Matt Ruscigno RD MPH

    If you are ever unsure that (many) men do not understanding covert, systematic sexism just read the comments on this article.

    LOL, entitlement.

  • Matt Ruscigno RD MPH

    Someone call the WHAAmbulance.

  • Jonathan Krall

    “so why single out traffic engineering?”

    Ummm… because “streetsblog” is a blog about traffic engineering?

    I’m a physicist in my day job, a profession that is something like 90 percent men. We have the same concerns about bringing women into our profession that other male-dominated fields do. Engineering is similar. I get that.

    However, what is different is that traffic engineering obviously affects women differently than men. If success means building facilities that are well-used, well-liked and safe, then all you engineers need to either a) give up on success (because your crappy roads clearly aren’t making it with the chicks) or b) go out of your way to get information on how women react to your traffic engineering and how you can change your traffic engineering to be more successful with women.

    The numbers clearly show that women think your traffic engineering sucks. Quit whining and do something about it.

  • Jonathan Krall

    I had a look. I hadn’t seen that page in a while. The bottom line is that the facilities you describe are not going to be as wildly popular as, say the 15th St cycletrack. Let me put it this way. I think soda pop is garbage marketed as food. I’m pretty sure the world were be better off without that crap. However, if giving out a coke with every bikeshare ride would increase cycling numbers the way cycletracks increase cycling numbers I’d donate to the “toxic drinks for cyclists fund” today.

    I once took a ride on the 15th St cycletrack with my sister Elizabeth, an actual woman. After riding for a few blocks she blurted out “this is great!” I can’t think of that many things that get that kind of reaction. Sort of like demonstrating a microwave oven (or a chocolate chip cookie, a smartphone, or a completely off-road bike path) to someone who’s never heard of one.

  • I don’t think we know that, “the facilities you describe are not going to be as wildly popular as, say the 15th St cycletrack.” To be frank, the paradigm I mention hasn’t been around for years when, perhaps by chance, people broadly cycled on the roads. Given the speed of say Rte 50, would a separated/cycling priority facility that paralleled 50 past the beltway be a big boon to cycling for the entire region? I think yes since it would connect lots of slow and moderate speed networks. With that in place, would you need bad designs like 15th ST.

    If one were to believe a few pro-cycletrack folks from the Netherlands, cycletracks such as the 15th ST Cycletrack are no longer installed since they’ve proven to be too dangerous and inferior. (See the link below)

    As always, there is lots to say but way too little time. Jan Heine recently wrote a short series in preparation for the recent Bike-to-Work Day. He put a lot of effort and time into it so I have not found much to add. My German is rusty, but he links to a site that shows cycling up 70% in Munich during a period where segregated and sidewalk cycling was being replaced with more encouragement to ride in the street … even where segregated facilities exist.

    http://janheine.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/separated-cycle-paths-a-summary/

    You would probably be interested in the entire series. I wrote a short blip as an add on my blog.

    P.S. My apologies for the long duration before replying. I don’t get updates often.

  • Tom Fuller

    What I guess needs to happen here is a class on Human Anatomy and Psychology concentrating on the structure and operation of the human brain and the different way it operates in the two sexes. And it will not be politically correct and no amount of wishful thinking will make it so. Male and female brains operate differently for a reason. Evolution. The male brain is more singularly and deeply analytical why the female brain is more broadminded so-to-speak. You can start here and follow the links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain There are less female engineers because of biological reasons not politics or sexism.

  • Judy Frankel

    I think the gender bias is not in Engineering but in education on how to ride a bike. Poor women.. they don’t know how to drive so they should be separated (segregated,diminished )to an apparently safe separate facility. All the women I know that have learned to drive their bikes feel as confident or more confident as any man to ride safely on the road. Yes, it’s relaxing to ride on a path, only if it had no conflicts at all with motor vehicles but, I want the freedom to go anywhere on my bike. Most people appreciate the ability to get themselves anywhere they need or want to go.. male or female. Engineering is about designing safe facilities for everyone. Not for designing pretty facilities that give a false sense of safety and make you feel that you don’t need to be aware of your driving.

  • Judy Frankel

    And if men don’t know how to drive and are not confident, they won’t admit it or want to appear to not know. There are many men who think they know how to ride safely and don’t. The problem is in Education of how to drive and the knowledge of how you are seen on the road and how conflicts occur.

  • FL

    It’s obvious that you don’t understand what is involved in road design. Not every facility can be a cycletrack due to the politics, street environment and neighborhood citizens of the community. The engineers who design the streets know this is the truth. Engineers are constantly trying to find ways to appease everyone so that we can all share the roads harmoniously. This unfortunately means not everyone gets everything. It would be great to have a separate bike facility everywhere, but until the politics, environment and residents agree, it will not happen. Blaming traffic engineers is just using them as a scapegoat for accepting the truth.

    You need to quit whining and stop living in a fantasy world and start looking at the constraints of the existing environment we live in. Flaming by using stereotypical bigotry just goes to show the continued ignorance of the supporters of this thread.

  • FL

    If you look down the thread, there is one who commented how absurd this gender bias crap is.

  • Jonathan Krall

    That was quite the insulting response. I am certainly aware that infrastructure decisions are political and am working with my local advocacy group to improve results.

    That means doing our best to get designs that work for all types of people and to get those designs implemented properly. In my community, which is Alexandria, VA, rather than fantasyland, we are making progress.

  • Jack Hughes

    To get a better perspective on the sexism argument, one must look back at the claim that the AASHTO standards (and also the MUTCD stds) were not based on solid research. They were. Lusk’s study has had very serious criticism as to methodology and results. There is a reason her results stand out to be grasped by those – women and men – who are unfamiliar with the research and hope despite the evidence that barriers will lead to safety. The reason is confirmation bias. It may be that women are more likely to want barrier ‘protection’ for cycling than men are, on the average, but it is a strange to cry ‘sexism’ when actual science based engineering tells women and men that their desired facilities designs are actually more dangerous than no facilities at all. Wrong is wrong. People for Bikes touts those riding on sidewalks as if they are voting for ‘protected’ bikeways. But the fact is that the sidewalk rider is in greater danger than the roadway rider, even if she or he feels more secure. and, likewise, the ‘protected’ bikeway rider has been engineered into greater risks. It isn’t about sexism, it is about what really makes riding safer.

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