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A Look at the Gender Gap in the Boston Area Biking Community

There is a lot of advocacy being done these days to promote bike ridership and also bike safety in places like the Greater Boston area. A lot of that work deals with the construction of bike lanes and making drivers more aware and educated about bike safety issues. While there has a been a lot of good that has come out of these efforts, there has also been more awareness brought to an entirely different issue.  According to a recent news article from Fast Company, less than a quarter of bike trips (including bike commutes) involve female riders.

Boston bike crashWhile this may seem obvious if you think of all the riders you see around Boston on a weekly basis, it is not an issue that is given much attention. There are various reasons for so few female bike riders suggested and realizing why this situation exists is the first step in getting more women out on the roads on bikes and bringing more equality to the growing community. One explanation offered is that women on the whole tend to be more risk averse than men, so until there are more bike lanes and other bike safety systems put in place, there will always be fewer female riders. While there may or may not be a basis for this suggestion, it clearly goes far beyond that. As the article notes, there is a stigma associated with women riders.  It has been suggested that women simply don’t ride bikes. It’s truly a ridiculous idea that comes from a very outdated way of thinking.

One woman who told her story in this recent article describes how a female friend convinced her to buy a used bike and get out on the road.  Not only did she do it, but she began to love riding as many others have before.  She quickly realized that she was one of very few women out on  a bike, and being a woman of color, she was a minority within an minority.

As our Boston bike crash lawyers can explain, this isn’t simply an academic argument.  Bike commuting is an environmentally friendly  means of transportation that can benefit everyone as well as the planet.  The more people out on the road on bikes, the lesser the carbon footprint and that is good for the environment.  Having few cars on the roads also means having less traffic, and that is good for those who choose to stay in their cars on their way to work.  What those opposed to sharing the roads with bikes don’t realize is that with proper infrastructure, more bikes means a faster commute for cars as well.

Rights and Responsibilities for Boston Bike Riders

Those who are opposed to bike riders not only have misconceptions about the value of cyclists on the roads, but they also tend to share a misunderstanding about the rules of the road. Pursuant to Chapter 85, Section 11B of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.), as long as  cyclists adhere to the rules specifically applicable to them, as well as all other general traffic regulations, bike riders have the same rights as anyone else on the road.  This means that motor vehicle operators must act towards a bike rider as they would towards any other driver.

If a car does not yield the right of way when appropriate to a bike rider as they would to someone in a car, this is a violation of state law and can result in a moving violation citation if the violation is observed by a law enforcement officer. If there is a bike crash due to a motorist violating a traffic law, not only can that motorist be issued a ticket for the moving violation, but the violation can also be used as the basis for filing a personal injury lawsuit following a Boston bike accident.

Proving a  Bike Accident Case in Boston

The general standard of negligence in bike crash cases is that the defendant must have breached a duty of due care towards the plaintiff. Evidence of that breach can be inferred from conduct, but it can also be established merely by showing defendant violated a traffic safety law in many cases. There is however, a requirement that the traffic law violated must have been enacted to prevent the type of accident that occurred in the actual case.  For example, one law says that a number plate (license plate) must be properly displayed on the front and rear bumpers of a car. If the driver did not follow this law and was involved in a crash, but remained on the scene, he may get a ticket for a number plate violation, but it would not prove negligence in the personal injury case.  If on the other hand, a driver failed to yield to a bike rider in violation of the statute and that violation was the actual and proximate cause of the  Boston bike accident, this could be used as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit.

As far as the biking gender gap issue goes, many have started to look to towards bike ridership overseas.  Europe has been a guiding force in a lot of different aspects of bike ridership as they have many more bike riders on the road in terms of percentage than we do in the U.S.  There is a historical basis in this due to higher fuel costs and taxes as well as less of a car culture that developed in the U.S. following the Second World War.  Europe may make some of the world’s finest and fastest cars, but there is no stigma associated with a bike.  They are also experiencing roughly equal numbers in terms of the gender of bike riders. Much of Europe has also come a lot farther than the U.S. in terms of modern bike safety infrastructure such as bike lanes with actual barriers and motorist awareness to bike rider safety.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston bicycle accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 617-777-7777.

Additional Resources:

What Will It Take To Close The Gender Gap In Urban Cycling?, November 27, 2017, By Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company

More Blog Entries:

World Day of Remembrance Personal for Our Boston Bicycle Injury Lawyers, Nov. 27, 2017, Boston Bike Attorney Blog

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