The Female Non-Cyclist: An Exploratory Study into the Low Levels of Participation in Cycling Among Females in Dublin
Thesis by Sue Brereton study investigates the barriers to participation in cycling for females in Dublin. A large disparity exists between both genders who cycle for transport and leisure in Ireland 15.1% of male’s cycle more frequently nationwide in comparison with only 6.1% of females. Females state that the lack of appeal of the activity of cycling is one of the key factors limiting participation in cycling compared to men. Despite the proposed measures by government to increase participation in cycling by 10% by 2020 and create a cycling culture in Ireland as discussed in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009-2020, little progress is being made. The proposed measures in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009-2020 are further delayed by the lack of investment in cycling infrastructure as laid out in the latest Capital Spending Plan 2016-2021. The Road Safety Authority (RSA), a statutory organisation funded by and reporting to The Department of Transport, has the responsibility for promoting safety on the roads in Ireland for all users. The use of campaigns with the words ‘vulnerable’ when promoting safety specifically to cyclists is common and provides a very negative narrative and one-size-fits-all approach to safety. This narrative does allow a tailored approach of delivering a message of safety that needs to take into account the differences that exist in perception between males and females in emotional responses and risk aversion. The research that informs Irish government reports to encourage cycling appears to be informed from research that has been carried out outside Ireland and due to cultural and infrastructural differences, lacks an understanding of the barriers to cycling for females. Therefore there is a gap in the literature that explores this topic from an Irish perspective. This issues in the exploratory study are viewed through a theoretical feminist lens. The research employed a sequential mixed methods approach using face to face interviews and an online survey. The key findings that emerged suggests that infrastructure, the pressure on females by society to be presentable and ineffectiveness of safety campaigns are the biggest barriers to cycling for females in Dublin.
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