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.”

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

  1. The flip side is, why are women “more” comfortable on protected lanes? You could just as easily twist this line of thinking to say “everyone was OK with substandard, more dangerous configurations as long as riders were overwhelmingly male”. It’s very difficult to engage in gendered debate on the issue without equal parts praise and damnation. Was the male-dominated engineering field providing only what male riders needed, or were they withholding safer alternatives because it was mostly men riding? Etc, etc, blah blah blah.

  2. Yes, and I suspect it’s even worse than this. Usually sexism isn’t just about picking the best candidates for a job and then kicking out all the women. It’s more likely about a culture of harassment and old boy networks, redefining the notion of merit in a way that makes it impossible for women to get in. But that also makes it harder for other kinds of people to get in – for example, anyone who thinks traffic engineering should have higher priorities than the throughput and speed of car traffic.

  3. It’s not the engineers’ genders that matters. It’s that bikes don’t. The last thing engineers care about is accommodating bicycles. They barely consider pedestrians beyond banning them from crossing where they might slow down cars. That’s not because men prefer to cross a busy road without a crosswalk.

    When pushed by advocates, engineers build the simplest of options the advocates bring them. In the case of bicycles, painting sharrows and adjusting signal loops to detect bike are easiest, then non-separated bike lanes. Building separated bike lanes create a massive host of issues they’d rather not design around, especially since their are few standards and guidelines available. And more than standard bike lanes, separated ones usually eliminate a travel lane.

    And if the bicycle advocates don’t ask for separated infrastructure because they are all men, the engineers certainly won’t build it.

  4. as a woman working at an transportation engineering firm, it seems like the issue is less about percentage of men writing the Green Book than about the conservatism and risk aversion of the engineering profession more broadly, particularly in litigious America. this issue comes up in transportation engineering (if it’s not in the CVC/MUCTCD/AASHTO, we’d be liable, so the answer’s no), but also in other engineering professions that can impede innovation and forward progress (building design and reducing energy consumption, for example). clearly there are a lot of engineers out there breaking this mold, but it seems like we need to push harder on messaging about the real risks of innovative treatments (i.e. lack there of) in a language that engineers and lawyers speak. NACTO has already gotten the ball rolling fast, but it seems like the next step is being diligent about evaluating and quantifying the benefits of these facilities in all shapes and sizes of communities (not just NYC and Chicago) and conveying corresponding legal/policy/environmental review guidance to cities. Playing by conservative rules, yes, but winning the game…

  5. Also: many bicycle advocacy groups oppose protected bike lanes. To them it feels like “giving in” and ceding the street per se to cars and trucks.

  6. ” AASHTO based its position against protected bikeways on domestic street designs like sidewalk bikeways”

    And, vehicular cycling advocates base their position against protected bikeways on sidewalk bikeways in Germany, which are essentially different from those in the Netherlands or Denmark.

  7. Speaking as a traffic safety and highway engineer, this post is spot on. The key to overcoming the inherent conservatism among my colleagues is quality research.

  8. I worked for a transportation agency and boy did I have a different experience. Where I live there isn’t a single woman in a position to make official decisions about bike infrastructure. The men who are come from a vehicular cycling perspective, I’m tough enough to take the lane so everyone should. The AASHTO board that makes these decisions is populated by a lot of the same types. All of this is anecdotal of course. But here we have a study suggesting this is a problem. I guess I don’t quite understand the instinct to dismiss it.

  9. In my mind “conservativism” is sort of a euphemism. Does the “conservativism” of this organization lead the the underrepresentation of women on important decision making bodies? Does “conservativism” make it ok for a group of men to make decisions that have an adverse impact on women, using flimsy data? If so, “conservativatism” the culture you are describing, is exactly what Lusk is pointing at.

    Whether it’s justified as risk aversion — something that is odd given that most studies show these are safer — or something else, it doesn’t matter really. The result is the same.

  10. I know many engineers and planners who would love to install protected bike infrastructure if there was enough money to fund it and enough time for them to adequately design it and do sufficient outreach to stakeholders. From my perspective there is no reluctance to build great stuff (with a few unfortunate exceptions in some cities), we just need to advocate for more spending to give city staff the resources they need to get it done.

  11. It is my opinion that failure to use world-class standard while constructing infrastructure constitutes engineering incompetence and negligence. For cycle infrastructure, that standard is the Dutch CROW standard.

    For those out there worried by lawsuits, suppose I’m sitting on a jury and hear that the CROW standard was ignored. Instead some substandard garbage (or worse yet, nothing) was built and someone got hurt. Bet your life I’m going to put punitive damages into the stratosphere due to this engineering incompetence and negligence.

  12. The fundamental issue is that engineering teaches you to analyze predictable scientific outcomes (based on vehicles weight and speed and road profile and all the things that can be reduced to equations) and not human behavior which cannot be reduced to equations. Even if women participated in greater numbers to the field, they would have to comply with the discipline to be taken seriously.

    What is needed is behavioral scientists to have equal weight in the industry and the panels to take in account a different approach to human predictability
    We also need to change the goal of these panels from improving vehicular flow, capacity and speed to reducing fatalities (40,000 a year). The US DOT can and should do that.

  13. From where I stand, 99% of the cycling infrastructure in the US is an epic failure. Good cycling infrastructure attempts to do three things:

    1) Minimize conflicts with motor traffic and pedestrians to ensure safety.
    2) Accommodate cyclists of all ability levels
    3) Allow cyclists to remain in motion to the maximum extent possible.

    I’ve rarely seen cycling infrastructure which manages to accomplish even the first thing on my list. To me at least it seems the majority of transportation planners aren’t even aware of the second two.

    Right now the fad seems to be protected cycle tracks. In limited circumstances, these can accomplish all three goals. However, in order to do so they must be used on roads which border parks or waterfronts or some other situation where there are few or no cross streets on the side of the road where the cycle track is installed. The protected cycle track at Prospect Park West is a good example of this. The design totally separates bikes and cars. And because there is no conflict with motor traffic, a cyclist can remain in motion the entire time. Also, there is adequate room for faster cyclists to pass slower ones, although I might have opted for making the cycle track a few feet wider. In any case, PPW is a great example of a protected cycle track used in an appropriate situation.

    Now let’s look at the protected cycle tracks on the Manhattan avenues. Not only can motor vehicles merge into the cycle track every other block to make turns, but you have cross traffic (and traffic signals!) every 250 feet. Intersections are where the majority of cycling accidents occur. Here the cycle track has largely failed to accomplish even the first goal. Yes, riders are protected midblock from cars but that’s where most collisions occur. The cycle track has totally failed on the other two counts. Because of the many obstacles, it’s often not safe to ride at the speeds more experienced riders might reach. And with poorly timed lights every 250′, you’re not staying in motion more than a few blocks. Is it better than a street with no bike lane at all? Perhaps, in that the narrowing of the rest of the street has calmed traffic. However, it’s hardly a stellar example of good bike infrastructure.

    Things are often just as bad on totally separated paths which could easily meet all three criteria. Often here in the US we build “mixed use paths”. These aren’t great for either cyclists or pedestrians. Often one or the other will be outside their designated space, assuming they even have their own designated space. And to make things worse, sharp turns and other obstacles will render the paths useless for riding at anything much faster than a jogging pace.

    In the final analysis, good cycling infrastructure costs more upfront than bad cycling infrastructure, but saves money down the road in terms of injuries/deaths.

  14. You’re absolutely correct. Until recently, both bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure was an afterthought. Traffic engineers were more aptly described as motor traffic engineers. All of their grandiose schemes to move as many motor vehicles as rapidly as possible fall apart once you throw bicycles and pedestrians into the mix. As a result, the simplest, least intrusive (for cars) options are what gets built. If pedestrians need to cross a busy highway, we’ll stick in either a signalized crosswalk with a push to cross button (if we’re lucky), or a crosswalk with a few yield to pedestrians signs a few hundred on either side. Perhaps some locations will get an overpass, along with miles of fencing to ensure that’s the only way pedestrians can cross the road. Nearest overpass is 1/2 a mile away? Tough luck, just walk an extra mile and deal with. After all, we can’t delay those cars by even 30 seconds to let a pedestrian cross. And we can’t afford to build overpasses at frequent enough intervals so walking to one isn’t unduly time consuming.

    Same thing with bicycle “infrastructure”. Hey, that road has a nice shoulder littered with debris. It also happens to be textured as a rumble strip but that’s OK. There’s our bike lane! If we really want to get fancy and have an extra 3′ of space, maybe you get the luxury of painted bike lane on pavement which is actually usable! Sorry kids, that’s the best we can do. No money for bike infrastructure here, and nobody is asking for it anyway. Just take the lane like those bicycle advocates tell you to.

    Thankfully the momentum is shifting away from this type of thinking. Even though I deal with aggressive motor traffic just fine, count me in as one male who would prefer to ride on separate bicycle infrastructure, preferably totally separate where I never encounter motor vehicles at all. Not having that added stress means I can actually enjoy riding instead of being in full-on alert all the time.

  15. Does SEX disparity in combat mortality (98-2), workplace mortality (95-5), and actuary table mortality (5-7 years shorter livespan for males) mean that women need to be forced to share Disposable Sex sacrifices in roles below the glass floor? Is all this ‘ bigoted feminist ‘Gender Gap’ nonsense even relevant until the DEATH GAP is addressed? Why do feminists bloviate endlessly about female comfort/freedom from risk but ignore gross male discomfort/danger…as ‘equality’?

  16. The issue of gender is a distraction: Both the former NYCDOT commisioner who has been pre-occupied with fighting bike lanes, and the current NYCDOT commisioner who is promoting them, are women.

    The problem has been the traditional traffic engineer “same as it ever was” mentality, regardless of gender. Fortunately, urban traffic engineers have done a good job pushing design forward through NACTO guidelines in the last few years, while their state-level counterparts at AASHTO are slowly playing catch up.

  17. Good points, Joe R. Few if any of the so called protected facilities in the U.S. do anything other than protect cyclists “until the point of impact” at curbcuts or intersections, as John Schubert has wryly commented. As Kevin Love responds, if one is to have a separated facility paradigm where it can be justified, it needs total separation to work as advertised, as well as be as comprehensive as the present road network. Where intersections with motor traffic are unavoidable, very good controls must be introduced.

    As far as blaming the lack of endorsement of segregated infrastructure on men, seems to me Streetsblog and AJPH have sunk to a new intellectual low. Some of the proponents of segregated facilities never saw a flawed facility they would not endorse. To turn the question around, do women deserve lower standards of engineering than men?

  18. Aside from the inherent (and at times, laudable) conservatism in the engineering profession, we also have to deal with the deeper problem. Far more people still drive in the U.S. than cycle and as long as there are not system-wide policies to discourage the single occupant car, we who travel by bicycle will be thrown bones.

    When we have held public hearings on road diets or on reconfiguring our arterials to make way for cycling facilities, just as many women as men turn out to protest that we are taking space and level of service away from “cars”. So engineers are tasked with making minor adjustments or throwing a bone to cyclists in the name of the primacy of motor vehicle level of service. I suspect if engineers were told to design a “Kevin Love” entirely separate cycling transportation system, they would do so and collect their paycheck.

    I think the notion of sexist PEs and PTOEs designing macho facilities is hilarious. Sexism may be present in transportation engineering, but it is absolutely subsidiary to the real problem–Car is still King, and the pushback on throwing space and money at specialized cycling facilities comes from motorists of both sexes.

    I’ve been honked at and told to get off the road by just as many women as men, by the way, although to be fair, the women are far less likely to get out of the car wielding a tire iron. But they still want their travel lanes, their level of service, and their SoccerMom SUVs, and they want them now.

  19. Er, well those who feel that way can of course continue to ride in traffic if they wish…

  20. Well, thank you very much, but that sells cyclists a bill of goods if the street has been narrowed to create the sidepath so there is no longer room in the street for motorists and cyclists to coexist amicably, while the sidepath is, as is all too common, hazardous at intersections and driveways, so narrow that all bicyclists are restricted to the speed of the slowest, not plowable in winter, and makes it difficult to cross to the far side of the street, Case in point: http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=2285

  21. Well, thank you very much, but that sells cyclists a bill of goods if the street has been narrowed to create the sidepath so there is no longer room in the street for motorists and cyclists to coexist amicably, while the sidepath is, as is all too common, hazardous at intersections and driveways, so narrow that all bicyclists are restricted to the speed of the slowest, not plowable in winter, and makes it difficult to cross to the far side of the street, Case in point: http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=2285

  22. As soon as I saw the name Anne Lusk (author of the infamous Montreal cycle track study) referred to with reverence, I knew that this article was going to be a hatchet job. Lusk’s work on safety flies in the face of nearly every other study out there. Why? Because she is bought and paid for by the folks who profit from installing bicycle facilities of the types that have been proven over the last 40 years to be less safe than the road for cyclists. Added to that, she’s a health advocate whose expertise is in wellness, not transportation engineering.

    As I see it, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials guidelines are about the only thing standing between cyclists and unsafe infrastructure that is liable to kill them. I realize that increased ridership is the new god of populist cycling advocacy, but must everything, including safety, be sacrificed to it?

  23. Traffic engineering doesn’t account for human behavior? The heck it doesn’t. The design of safe roads, or bikeways, is partly about the physical limits of vehicle performance (braking, acceleration, turning, which chekpeds discusses) but also about wjat chekpeds leaves out: distance and sight line requirements to respect the limits of human abilities. Failing this, we get what has already been referred to in this thread as “out of sight of each other until the moment of impact.” This design issue is the dominant factor in fatal urban car-bike collisions.

  24. Huh? I thought the whole point of taking the lane was that cyclists and cars use the same lane; narrowing the lane should have zero effect on that, and probably even helps cyclists as it will tend to slow traffic.

    If you think the cycle lane itself is too narrow, then make it wider. Reducing car lanes doesn’t hurt cyclists, even those that choose to ride in traffic.

  25. Attempting to appeal to feminists by claiming that the big bad men in engineering don’t want to protect the dainty, skirted ladies on their cruisers is self-defeating. Don’t create additional conflict where there is none. Is it not enough that the profession refuses to plan around human beings, without dragging in gender? The last thing you want is to take a pretty low key discussion about infrastructure into the weeds. (see comment by @tracheal for an example)

  26. Advocating for “more spending” is getting to be a serious problem in most places. Its more a matter of redirecting resources away from traditional projects, and that’s where special facility advocates find themselves in political battles. This is a political issue as you suggest, not an engineering challenge, and in some cases, adding these facilities makes sense. In others, it is a solution in search of a problem.

  27. I go to David Hembrow’s site from time to time and I’m fairly impressed with most of what the Dutch are doing. I’m a bit lukewarm though on that intersection design for two reasons. One, as with most other designs where car and bike traffic intersect, you’re depending upon traffic signals for safety. Traffic signals delay cyclists, and if overused tend to be ignored by cyclists. That’s why they must be used very sparingly, not every 250′ as in NYC. The second issue is the sharp turns cyclists going straight through the intersection must make to follow the green path. One of my criticisms of a lot of bicycle infrastructure in the US is that it doesn’t cater to all levels of cyclists due to the overuse of sharp turns which can’t be negotiated at more than maybe 10 mph. Same thing here. It’s hard to imagine someone going 22 mph through that intersection. Any time you make cycling infrastructure which is “too slow”, you’ll have more experienced cyclists riding in the street, to a chorus of complaining motorists saying the bike infrastructure was a waste of money. Therefore, if we build bicycle infrastructure it should be useful for those of ages 8 to 80, and also useful from 6 mph up to about 30-35 mph or so (i.e. the speed of the fastest velomobiles).

    I do however love the concept of a completely separate bicycle network, provided it’s at least as comprehensive as the auto network. The only issue there is you need the space for it, or if space doesn’t exist at street level, you need grade separation.

  28. Why would people want to listen to engineers and other scientists?

    Should we listen to engineers and scientists regarding global warming, evolution, GMOs, and vaccines?

  29. The choice to install bike infrastructure is a complicated one. Working in both private and public sector planning organizations, I will cite the reliance of federal funding as the SINGLE largest driver of transportation policy.

    The Transportation bill (MAP-21) combines all national bike funding into Transportation Alternatives – a fund with total funding at roughly $52 billion per year.

    $41 Billion can only be spent on Highway projects.

    $10.5 for Transit Projects

    $0.808 billion for Transportation Alternatives (Bike/Ped) – which now includes HOV Lanes and Electrification projects as well.

    That 90% federal match doesn’t go very far with bike lanes you see –

    Leaving the City or State to make up the funding where the Federal Transportation bill is lacking. In NYC, the NYCDOT has spent large amounts of its own money completing studies and striping. In some cases, NYCDOT has used Federal money only for analysis and used entirely its own budget to paint the actual lanes.

  30. The only positive is that MAP-21 is a two year bill and hopefully the next bill will roll bike and pedestrian funding into the general highway appropriations.

  31. I think it is more about funding.

    Until we move away from the driver pays for bike/pedestrian/transit & Road projects, the bias towards roads will always be there.

    I think that the gas tax should be dissolved and replaced with a transportation fund funded through general tax receipts.

    That way, we can analyze all projects on a equal metric – how many Citizens can we move per hour rather than vehicles per hour.

    (last I checked, vehicles aren’t US Citizens)

  32. “As I see it, the American Association of State Highway and
    Transportation Officials guidelines are about the only thing standing
    between cyclists and unsafe infrastructure that is liable to kill them.”

    I disagree. NYC has been adding bike lanes and protected bike lanes rapidly over the past several years with the result that ridership is up and fatalities are down.

  33. In the town where I live, we count cyclists quarterly and, while cycling is increasing, a gender disparity persists, with women making up less than 1/3 of the total [1]. Clearly their is a gender problem somewhere. All you people replying here to the effect that there is no gender bias in the engineering profession need to explain where the gender bias comes from.

    Gender bias in bicycling exists. It is right there in the data. Denying it may not prove to be an effective strategy for growing the bicycling community.

    [1] https://sites.google.com/site/alexandriabpac/resource-center/2012-city-of-alexandria-bicycle-and-pedestrian-count-report

  34. Did you ever consider the gender disparity might exist simply because typical cycling trips here in the US are longer, and in general women just don’t have the physical stamina of men? Yes, there are some great female cyclists out there (and I once had one behind me who kept up with me for a few miles with no problem while I was giving it everything I had), but in general women are less physical than men. In places where average cycling trips are much shorter (i.e. Copenhagen, Amsterdam), the gender disparity doesn’t exist.

    Or put in simpler terms-reduce sprawl and you’ll take one big step towards evening out the gender disparity. And by the way, less than 1/3 of the total isn’t bad. 25 years ago, female cyclists made up about 10% or less. At least we’re headed in the right direction.

  35. Getting beyond the circular arguments, i.e., that there is a gender problem because there is a gender bias, perhaps there are reasons other than infrastructure and sexism that result in more men riding. One, I suspect there are more males who ride bikes for athletic reasons. Two, many women often have more complicated schedules than men in multiple work/caregiver roles and even a lot of men don’t ride bikes because its simply easier to drive. Three, bicycles and bicycling has traditionally been a male dominated sport so there are simply more men out there riding for reasons other than basic transportation. Four, using a bicycle for basic transportation is different than just riding a bike; it means that the bicycle has to work effectively in a transportation paradigm, not a “bike as toy or athletic tool” paradigm. That in term is influenced not only by infrastructure, but by scheduling and distances. Few of our cities are compact as in Europe.

    Sure, infrastructure influences decisions and gender roles influence people’s decisions. Having said that, I think Streetsblog and its supporters would like to reduce these discussions to simple solutions and find scapegoats. I think as long as it is cheap and easy to drive in the U.S. (for the middle class), cars will be viable for the same reason that automatic dishwashers are viable–they make people’s lives easier. We ignore common sense at our peril.

  36. While I’ve encountered both women and men – of all ages and physical fitness levels – who take on daily cycling commutes of 20 to 40 miles through the suburbs, the cycling advocacy community has been focusing on getting Americans to trade their cars for bikes on trips of five miles or less. It’s not a race, and you don’t need to have magnificent physical stamina to make it a couple of miles. In the suburban sprawl, two miles might mean one errand completed compared to several in the city, but there’s something beyond the distance that’s keeping women from getting on their bikes for those two miles.

  37. Lusk is notorious for ignoring the fact that so-called “protected” bike lanes merely hide the collision participants from each other until the moment of impact. These bike lanes do not protect. They conceal.

    So Lusk plays the gender card. It’s my fault for having . . . male gender characteristics . . . . that make me think that the causes of death of Kathryn Rickson, Dana Laird, Alice Swanson and many other women were professional malpractice. In Lusk’s world view, it is feminine, and superior, that we sweep these deaths under the rug and encourage women to feel dependent on facilities that are ultimately far more dangerous than an unmarked road.

    “Lusk found that many of AASHTO’s official claims regarding the purported safety problems of protected bike lanes were offered without supporting evidence.”

    Sorry, Lusk. I have studies showing these safety problems in rather explicit detail, from Copenhagen, Helsinki and Amsterdam.

    What Lusk does is look at overall numbers. These numbers have many causes, and the bike lanes are so visible that it’s natural to assume that those are the causes. However, when you look at individual accidents and their causes, your view of cycling changes. “Protected” bike lanes are shiny objects that conceal grave dangers. Copenhagen kills about five people per year in right hook crushing accidents, like the ones that snuffed Rickson and Swanson.

  38. Do segregated lanes reduce fatalities in a casual sense? For instance, identify this effect from bicyclists riding slower. I think you will have a very hard time proving that point without relying on secondary effects for which segregated facilities may not be necessary.

    That engineers/scientists concluded that the causal relationship increases risk on the margin is actually supported by several studies in Europe. There are disciplines about visibility and cognitive limitations which lead engineers to a set of conclusions. These conclusions are applied to automobiles and naturally are applied to bicycles on the road. Yet with all of this, the article insinuates that gender bias is a driving factor in avoiding putting cyclists to the right of right turning motorized vehicles.

    Mind you, this doesn’t prove that these is no gender bias … proving a negative is remarkably difficult. But there are plenty of reasons for everyone to have made the decisions they did without the wild @ssed accusation of gender bias.

    Note: Edited since there were way too many freakin’ negatives.

  39. Yes, scarce funding toward bike infrastructure definitely limits what the traffic engineers can build. The reason why it’s limited once again goes back to the fact that cars are king and other forms of transport as Joe R says, an afterthought, something to think about after the serious business of moving more cars faster is taken care of.

  40. “I think Streetsblog and its supporters would like to
    reduce these discussions to simple solutions and find scapegoats.”

    I don’t see this. I see people looking at big problems one facet at a time.

    I also don’t see engineers as “scapegoats.” Many streetscapes in the USA are changing fundamentally. I myself am living in a city that is urbanizing rapidly. Yet, for whatever reason, many engineers seem to be agents of the status quo rather than experts who work to help the rest of us optimize our streetscapes for the future rather than for the past. The way I see it, the status quo is sexist, so accusing supporters of the status quo of being sexist isn’t exactly a big intellectual leap.

  41. Where’s your evidence that fatalities are down on the streets that have the bike facilities? I realize fatalities are down in NYC generally, but that’s nowhere near the same thing. If the bike facilities have a lower injury and fatality rate, it would be the first evidence I’ve heard of for segregated bike facilities making roads safer.

  42. Two miles might complete one errand. Most of the women (and men) I know have become adept at chaining together errands in a way that is difficult in a far flung environment.

    I think Joe has one major point. If we can back out of our sprawl patterns, an everyday person on a bicycle can multitask using a utility bike far easier than using a car. When the built environment is on the scale of the bicycle, the One Mile Solution will seem like a no-brainer. That may indeed seem like a no-brainer to folks like Prof. Andy Cline (www.isocrates.us/bike/?) but its still beyond the horizon for many Americans. I’ve been in European cities (and some on this side of the pond) where a car was not an indispensable tool. Its nice.

  43. Engineers’ concern about the junction hazards associated with sidepath bikeways had nothing to do with gender politics and everything to do with science. However, eliminating bad bikeway designs still leaves much that can be done to improve cycling for a diverse population. As a parent who cycles with children, I prefer to route my kids on lower speed, lower traffic routes and to minimize junction conflicts, even though cycling alone I am confident on most any road. Would having more women engineers increase the availability of lower speed, lower traffic roads and reduced junction conflicts due to greater empathy for less confident, less skilled, or less assertive road users? Possibly. Would it result in a rejection of sound traffic engineering principles for collision reduction? No way.

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