Sustrans is calling for more to be done to help address the low number of women walking and cycling in the UK.
In a new report published ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), the charity calls for equal gender representation in transport planning and delivery.
‘Are We Nearly There Yet?’ looks at the travel habits and choices of nearly 2,000 women in Glasgow and combines the findings with research on women’s travel patterns across Scotland, the UK and Europe.
The findings show that women’s journeys around cities are typically shorter than those made by men, while women are more likely to be involved in ‘trip-chaining’ (multi-stop journeys) as they balance child care, work and household responsibilities.
While women are motivated to travel actively for physical and mental health reasons, worries about their personal safety, convenience (particularly when taking multi-stop trips) and appearance are all barriers to preventing them from cycling and walking.
The report also points to statistics which show in Scotland, transport has the lowest percentage of women in senior posts within the public sector (6.25%). In addition, only 22% of workers in the UK’s transport sector are female.
Katie Hulland, president of Women in Transport, said: “Less than one-quarter of UK transport workers are women, so we are massively under-represented in the planning and delivery of transport policy, infrastructure and services.
“A more gender balanced workforce would help the transport sector better address women’s needs as customers and service users.
“We’re working with the transport industry, parliament, government and beyond, to address women’s under-representation and promote a diverse and inclusive transport workforce.”
Suzanne Motherwell, Sustrans Scotland’s evaluation manager, said: “Our research has shown that there are a number of women-specific barriers such as lack of time, complex schedules and fears of personal safety, which stop them from travelling actively more often.
“If we are to get more people walking and cycling, the industry must address the inequalities that exist in transport – at every level – from users right through to planning and policy making.
“By designing and building infrastructure that caters for both genders’ needs, we can help ensure the gap between the levels of women and men cycling is closed, and importantly improve the everyday cycling levels in our cities and towns.”