The BACC recently published a study aimed at analyzing the use of bike lanes in the city of Barcelona. The study recorded the data at nine bike lane locations in the city, morning and evening, in two rush-hour time slots. Its findings regarding women’s use of the city’s bike lanes were as follows:
- Of every 10 people who use the bike lanes (on bicycles or other VMPs), only 3.5 are women.
- The smallest gender gap is among people who use folding bicycles (both electric and mechanical) and people who use Bicing (the local bicycle sharing system).
- The gap is four percentage points lower in the mornings. In this case, folding bicycles have the smallest gap, with 43.5%.
- There is a smaller gender gap in electric versions of bicycles. Use of electric folding bikes is close to parity, reducing the gender gap by more than six points compared to mechanical versions.
On one hand, this data confirms that mobility patterns differ according to gender, but, on the other, it opens up a new field of study to understand why there is a preference for this type of bike (folding and/or electric) that reduces the gender gap and why the gap is smaller in the mornings.
The study also suggests that many trips in Barcelona’s bike lanes are not being measured or studied, and this can be decisive when designing and expanding the city’s cycling infrastructure.
Mobility patterns depend on gender.
Women have a more complex mobility model, with greater intermodality, greater public transport use and more walking. Still today, women are the main caregivers for children and elderly people, devoting almost twice as much time to domestic work as men.
As a result, they have more complex and diverse mobility patterns because they make more trips per day than men due to their double and triple shifts of paid work, domestic work and household management, and their dedication to affective and community relationships. Their movements are polygonal and happen for more reasons, linking different activities and routes.
Women also travel shorter distances on each trip and optimize their journey times. They may make shorter trips closer to home, but, at the end of the day, they travel more kilometers due to the number of different activities that they link together due to their double and triple shifts. They also spend more time on trips in sustainable active mobility due to a lack of better-linked intermodal connections.
This type of study is very valuable because it indicates that incorporating the gender perspective into the analysis of sustainable mobility by bicycle and in VMP can help in designing more useful and safer infrastructures for everyone.