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Friday Quote: “Bicycling’s gender gap. It’s the economy, stupid”

“Bicycle transportation is good for a lot of things—it’s healthy, it’s green, it’s quiet, it’s fun, it builds community. It also makes financial sense, and the magnitude of bicycling’s economic impact gets far less attention than it deserves. In the Bikenomics series, Elly Blue explores the scope of that impact, from personal finance to local economies to the big picture of the national budget. In the grassroots and on a policy level, the bicycle is emerging as an effective engine of economic recovery.”

I'm a big fan of Elly Blue since her visit to Spokane last summer for the Bikestravaganza: Off The Chainring Tour. It was an energetic traveling road show of bicycle talk, movies, zines, and transportation activism and advocacy. They presented short videos and a slideshow about the success of Portland’s bike culture and infrastructure.



Lately, I've been following her series on the economics of bicycling at Grist and posting as a Friday Quote. Her latest entry is called "Bicycling's gender gap: It's the economy stupid."

That uptick in bicycling numbers you've been hearing about nationwide?

It's mostly men.

A recent paper looked at cycling demographic trends and found that, on average, nearly all the new riders on U.S. roads in the past 20 years have been men between the ages of 25 and 64.

Meanwhile, the rate of women on the roads has held steady, with 24 percent of bike trips nationwide made by women in 2009 (according to the national travel survey for that year).

Friday factoid: More women than men

The U.S. Census Bureau released another pile of data this week from tghe 2010 headcount, and the tabulation of American residents by gender revealed the unsurprising fact there are more women than men in the United States.

But there are more boys than girls.

For all age groups, there are roughly 5 million fewer male Americans than female Americans (149.5 million to 154.8 million).

But when breaking it down by age groups, the male numbers are larger from infancy through age 29. At age 30, women pull ahead slightly, and get farther ahead with each five-year increment. By age 85 and older, they're approaching 2-to-1, with 1.6 million men and 3.1 million women.

For the Census Bureau's latest info on "Age and Sex in the United States" (which is not as risque as it sounds), click here.

Is it a boy or girl?

Nobody knows – except the parents of “Pop,” a 2-year-old in Sweden whose parents refuse to reveal whether their child is a boy or girl.

Pop’s mom and dad decided to keep their child’s gender a secret because they believe gender is a social construction, according to a recent story published in The Local: Sweden’s News in English.

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. “It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

 By doing this, their child won’t be subject to society’s tendency to stereotype based on gender, they said. According to The Local, Pop (not the child’s real name) wears both dresses and pants. Pop’s hairstyle also changes on a regular basis.

The family has received both positive and negative feedback. The Local interviewed Kristina Henkel, a gender equality consultant in Sweden, and she said Pop’s lack of gender-identity might be a good thing.

“Girls are told they are cute in their dresses, and boys are told they are cool with their car toys. But if you give them no gender they will be seen more as a human or not a stereotype as a boy or girl,” Henkel told The Local.

The Local also interviewed Susan Pinker, a psychologist, Canadian newspaper columnist and author of the book, “The Sexual Paradox.” “Child-rearing should not be about providing an opportunity to prove an ideological point, but about responding to each child’s needs as an individual,” Pinker told The Local.

What are your thoughts on this family’s decision? How do you think this experiment will affect Pop as he or she grows up? How long can a child remain “gender-free”?