May 14, 2020 3 min read

Women are choosing to cycle closer to the pavement than men, according to a new study of data insights we collected from cyclists over 12 months in Dublin.  We analysed information gathered by more than 200 cyclists using our See.Sense smart bike lights, travelling on the same routes in the city over a 12-month period , to produce the research.

We found that female cyclists consistently favoured rougher areas of the same road than men, indicating they are cycling on the left-hand side, closer to the gutter, as opposed to the centre, where the surface is smoother. However, although female cyclists opted for the rougher parts of road overall, they swerved more than men in the same position - actively avoiding the seriously rough areas, and potholes.

Our analysis shows that women and men cycling on the same route over the same period of time have distinct cycling behaviours.  If women are choosing to ride at the periphery of the road, rather than towards the centre like their male counterparts, one reason we believe this may be the case is because they are not feeling safe, or because they do not feel as confident adopting a more assertive position.

The data is collected using our award-winning,daylight visible bike lights that use advanced sensor technology to monitor the environment while a cyclist is riding, taking 800 readings a second from the vibration of the bike wheel. The bike lights help to make cycling safer for cyclists, by flashing faster and more brightly at moments of potential risk, while gathering information on road surface, braking, swerving, collisions, and more.  The unique, real time data our lights collect can not only give insights into cyclist behaviour, but also identify road conditions in specific areas. This can provide local authorities with the kind of evidence they need to help determine where, and how, to invest in infrastructure to improve conditions for all cyclists.

The data See.Sense analysed in Ireland was from a pilot partnership with Dublin City Council and stored in Amazon AWS. Data is aggregated for analysis.We examined key routes taken by cyclists in the city between January and December 2019, including Dame Street, O'Connell Street and O'Connell bridge, Capel Street and Grattan Bridge, among others.

We have already undertaken pilot partnerships in other European cities including Manchester, and Antwerp, to demonstrate the power of data collected by cyclists using its lights, and it's potential for use in more efficient and effective city planning.

Image 1:  Road Roughness 

Logarithmic scale:  the proportion of your journey spent at particular roughness level, showing that females spend disproportionately more time in rough road surface, relative to male cyclist.

Image 2: Swerving 



 

Legend

Green = female

Purple = male 

Grey = average swerving

X - swerving increasing 

Y - the proportion of journey spent swerving

 

 


The results of this study were covered in The Business Post, ‘Bike Lights and Cycling Data work in tandem to help city planners’, 26th April, 2020.  

“Through the project, the business was able to see different habits among cyclists in the city and examine what caused them.  “For example, we looked at how the experience differed between male and female cyclists; that was fascinating. We saw that road surface quality was different between the two as women tended to cycle closer to the curb,” Philip said. 

The data analysis showed the reasons behind this and what was required to adapt roads to make them friendlier to all cyclists.  “We know the roads are rougher on the edge, that’s just how they are designed. That’s the only reason women could experience a rougher ride,” Irene said.  The data also showed that female cyclists change lane position more often than men. 

“While men enjoy a smoother road overall, they hit more potholes. They are going faster and plough on, while women weave more,” Irene said.

 “Most cities find women are a disproportionately smaller percentage of cyclists. If you can design roads that women will find less scary to cycle on, then you have a bigger chance of getting more people out of cars in general and on to bikes.”
Irene McAleese
Irene McAleese


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