Great piece dealing with a rather unhappy phenomenon. If you are a female cyclist in the UK your chances of dying due to motor vehicle are actually higher than if you are male, despite the overrepresentation of men on the roads as cyclists. Blogger Helen Blackman makes the following point:

I do think that women are generally less respected, actually by both sexes. There is an assumption that women should be more passive and that they should give way. On the roads this means an assumption that female cyclists should move over, should not be ‘in the way’, should be compliant and should move, or brake, or whatever it takes so that motor vehicles can continue unimpeded.

Blackman goes on to postulate what she thinks might be going on here: that part of what is happening here is a psychological aversion to women who take up space which is rightfully theirs to claim. And the evidence – we are cautioned – is anecdotal but Blackman uses the example of her road posture which she describes as “male” having a decidedly psychological impact on those around her as she wheels around town on what is generally considered a “man’s” bike. Blackman finishes the thought process thus:

Of the various complaints that I hear about cyclists, some of the most common are that they are ‘in the way’, that they are a problem to pass or that they slow the traffic down. They are occupying space that drivers want. And since women are supposed to occupy less space, their sin is worse. To those drivers who are anti-cycling, cyclists are other.

This is why we need better infrastructure for what Mikael Coleville-Andersen calls “citizen cyclists”, road-hardened, male cyclists like myself are likely to be a visible pain in the ass to drivers, but we’re the minority. We want everyone to be using bicycles precisely so that drivers are also cyclists and also see road space differently. The gender question is going to take more than road infrastructure, but perhaps seperated bike lanes will at least make its expression less likely to be vehicular homicide.

Cycling, sex difference and the problems with victim blaming | Helen Blackman

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