I loved this analogy: Cycling is awfully similar to being a woman. It nicely describes how it feels to be marginalised and not quite “normal”. But there are some things that I’d like to add:
- Being a cyclist is an enormous advantage, especially in gridlocked cities like London and New York, because your maneuverability makes up for your lack of speed, and means you can skip queues and get to the front, if you are assertive enough.
- If the bike lanes are badly designed, I share the main roads with other users. I’m a road user, I play by the rules, and in most cities I’m travelling only marginally slower than the cars. Just because the road wasn’t built for you doesn’t mean you don’t have every right to use it. And just because they made a crappy effort to include you doesn’t mean you have to go their route if it’s going to slow you down.
- There’s a thrill from being a bit outside of Their rules and not conforming to Their expectations
- Yes it’s fraught with danger, but it’s a game. And it’s fun!
I was fascinated to read there have been zero fatalities in New York’s Citi Bike scheme. Contrary to expectations, opening up the city to masses of (often novice) cyclists has made road users more aware of them, and forced the city to create infrastructure for them. Can we port this back across our analogy to being a woman? What if we opened up the advantages of being a woman to people who aren’t hardcore pioneers going it alone? How would we do that?