Designing women in and out of urban environments

A young woman attends to a small child in a child seat on the back of the bicycle. The bike has a shopping basket.When it comes to active travel and bike riding, fewer women take up these options than men. The City of Sydney wanted to find out why this inequity exists and commissioned a study. It’s part of their overall strategy to apply a gender lens to planning. With an historical bias towards designing cities for men, the status quo in planning is likely to remain. 

Using participatory methods and a gender lens they found the drivers, enabling factors and barriers affecting women’s transport choices. The report resulting from the study is comprehensive.The key recommendations for supporting women to walk and cycle are: 

    • perceptions about women bike riders 
    • there’s a gender bias in transport planning
    • Safety beyond street lighting and cycle-ways
    • the need to work hand in hand with public transport
    • the need for end-of-trip facilities 

Women’s travel habits are more complex than those of men. That’s because of home and work responsibilities. It’s not just a case of getting from A to B. Women often have more than one stop such as school drop-offs, running errands and doing the shopping.

The report recognises that infrastructure needs to be friendly to all ages, abilities and backgrounds, not just women. The title of the report is, On the Go: How Women Travel Around Our City: A case study on active transport across Sydney through a gender lens.

There are other research reports on active travel on the City of Sydney website. Bike riding is one of the City’s strategies for mitigating climate change.

 

Dangerous by Design

Two ambulance officers push a patient into the ambulance.According to Smart Growth America, pedestrian deaths are increasing while actual traffic fatalities are decreasing. So what’s happening here? According to a report, Dangerous by Design 2019, the numbers of deaths are equivalent of one jumbo jet full of people crashing every month with no survivors. And it seems the problem for walkers is getting worse. The report argues that government policies still favour high speeds for cars over safety for people. The article gives more detailed statistics for various states in the US. It would be interesting to know if this is replicated in other countries. The report was supported by AARP and the American Society of Landscape Architects. It is not clear whether population ageing is a factor.  

Are stairs an answer to physical activity?

Looking up a long flight of stone steps in a park. No handrails.Walkability is discussed as the solution to keeping people active and engaged in their community. I have heard it said by health enthusiasts that we “have to have steps and stairs because that is good exercise”. Well it might be for some, but not for others. A research study on stairs and older people concludes that the presence of stairs “may deter older persons (and others) from walking outdoors.” The study was a systematic review of the literature. The full article is available online from BMC Public Health. Or you can download the PDF. The title is “Examining the relationships between walkability and physical activity among older persons: what about stairs?” by Nancy Edwards and Joshun Dulai.