The New York Times has come up with a new imaginary problem for women: Not enough of them compared to men are riding bicycles around the city that never sleeps.
Why, it's worse than STEM!
When Citi Bike arrived here, it promised to spread the benefits of biking to the masses, an uphill push in a city where large potholes, heedless yellow cabs and darting pedestrians can make riding on busy streets seem like an activity best left for daring messengers.
But two years in, Citi Bike’s inroads have been decidedly uneven, with men far outnumbering women in using the bike-sharing system. A little time on Eighth Avenue on a recent morning, watching the stream of Citi Bike riders heading north past Pennsylvania Station and toward Times Square, was instructive. Man after man pedaled by, some in suits, others in jeans. From time to time, a woman on a Citi Bike rode by….
For the bike service, that is a problem. A new leadership team installed last fall has set out to recruit thousands of new users. Upgrades to troublesome software and plans for more stations have been welcome steps, but persuading more women to join is seen as vital to the success of Citi Bike. Today, women take about a quarter of all trips by Citi Bike riders and make up just under a third of members.
Citi Bike’s gender gap is part of a broader pattern among cyclists across the country; bike-share systems in Chicago and Washington also have more male riders. To woo women, Citi Bike is hosting rides with women’s cycling groups and trying to make cycling seem stylish.
Frankly, I wouldn't want to ride a bicycle around midtown Manhattan on a weekday myself. Just trying to walk down Fifth Avenue is bad enough.
The bikes appeared in the windows of Bloomingdale’s and in an episode of Comedy Central’s slacker millennial show “Broad City.” The company recently posted a photo on Twitter of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the model Kelly Rohrbach kissing on Citi Bikes, and Vogue’s website praised the model Karlie Kloss’s “practical chic” outfit while riding. Citi Bike has even dipped into cycling history, highlighting how bicycles symbolized independence for bloomer-wearing suffragists.
Susan B. Anthony on a bicycle? Um, no.
Women interviewed by the NYT listed a number of reasons why they'd rather take a cab or ride the subway. One of them was this:
In a fashion-conscious city, women’s concerns over their appearance are understandable because they are held to a higher standard at work, said Ms. Steren, the stylist.
“The more polished and well put-together you are, people will take you more seriously,” Ms. Steren said….
Yup, as usual, it's All Men's Fault. You see, if only our patriarchal society didn't force women to pay so much attention to their appearance!
So let's have a crusade for women to look like slobs. That'll close the bike gender gap.