At War With The Motorist
Our correspondents’ dispatches from the front
I wrote this thing a year and half ago but never quite got around to shaping it into anything I was quite happy with. Well, since the BBC have come around with yet another “what is stopping women cycling?” story, I figured I’ll never finish it and may as well get rid of it…
Another tweet scrolled past me this evening asking why a segment of the UK population doesn’t cycle.
Is cycling a ‘white’ thing? Help us find out what stops people from BME groups cycling: Do our survey & pls rtw http://ow.ly/pfIx3010tfC
— Life Cycle UK (@LifeCycleUKteam) 2:36 PM – Jun 7, 2016
It’s certainly an admirable exercise, trying to address inequalities in access. And there are certainly inequalities to address. But there is little to learn about what the inequalities are, or what the solutions to them might be, by comparing current cycling rates between different populations, or by asking the question “why don’t x cycle?”.
Because it’s not just x who don’t cycle. Black and minority ethnic populations don’t cycle, but neither do white populations. Women don’t cycle, but neither do men. And the number one reason all of these populations don’t cycle is the same.
That’s not in any way to say there aren’t inequalities of access, or to dismiss the additional barriers that women and minorities face, or to belittle the diverse ways that different people and populations can experience the same barriers. Only that when it comes to “why don’t people cycle”, the biggest concerns by far are the same for everyone.
Here is an entirely hypothetical society that we can imagine, with some entirely made up data for different populations in that society: