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Does More Cycling Mean More Diversity in Cycling?

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In low-cycling countries, cycling is not evenly distributed across genders and age groups. In the UK, men are twice as likely as women to cycle to work and cycling tends to be dominated by younger adults. By contrast, in higher cycling countries and cities, gender differences are low, absent, or in the opposite direction. Such places also lack the UK's steady decline in cycling among those aged over 35 years. Over the past fifteen years some UK local areas have seen increases in cycling. This paper analyses data from the English and Welsh Census 2001 and 2011 to examine whether such increases are associated with greater diversity among cyclists. We find that in areas where cycling has increased, there has been no increase in the representation of females, and a decrease in the representation of older adults. We discuss potential causes and policy implications. Importantly, simply increasing cycling modal share has not proved sufficient to create an inclusive cycling culture. The UK's culturally specific factors limiting female take-up of cycling seem to remain in place, even where cycling has gone up. Creating a mass cycling culture may require deliberately targeting infrastructure and policies towards currently under-represented groups.
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Keywords: age; commuting; cycling; equity; gender

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Planning and Transport, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster, Marylebone Campus, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS, UK 2: UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Box 285 Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK 3: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

Publication date: January 2, 2016

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