The sex of moving on two wheels

Here are, we want to be a resource for all cyclists in the San Diego region. We want to be the place that all cyclists can visit and contribute to the discussion. There is no central resource that focuses on cyclists in the San Diego region. As such, Bike San Diego strives to be that resource. Our primary focus is on transportational cycling which we differentiate from recreational cycling or cycling for sport.

Last week there was a rather spirited exchange that transpired on our site in response to a story where the California Traffic Control Devices Committee chose to ignore bicyclists as legitimate users of our roadways. The discussion that followed is one that has been repeated time and time again online. These discussions has often been both heated and informative. The subject of these discussions has centered around a philosophy of riding that has often been controversial.

The philosophy is called “vehicular cycling.” According to philosophy, cyclists are expected to behave just as a motor vehicle would. Cyclists who espouse the vehicular cycling philosophy often do not see eye to eye with cycling advocates who desire more infrastructure specific to cyclists. As it usually is the case in seemingly divisive topics, both sides have equally valid points.

Vehicular cyclists seek to legitimize cyclists on our roadways. There is something to be said for including all modes of transportation and all users of the road as a method to create more traffic calming scenarios on our roadways. Yet, there is also something to be said for creating bicycle specific infrastructure. New or wannabe cyclists may not feel as comfortable or confident riding on a road to the market or a coffee shop  with no designated bike lane or bike box when there is traffic whizzing by at 50 mph.

The disconnect between the two cycling camps is an unfortunate problem when the real focus should be on increasing cyclists’ presence on our roadways. In a survey done by Alta Planning and Design, the lack of infrastructure was cited as the main reason on why cyclists do not ride more often in San Diego. 2008 Bicycle SurveyBut you may be wondering what this debate has to do with the sexes. As the sole woman behind the scenes at Bike San Diego, I find it perplexing that the sex that argues most vehemently in favor of (or even against) vehicular cycling are men. But the real issue that we all ought to focus on is why so few women ride. What would it take to make San Diego a bicycling mecca? The answer is to encourage women to ride more.  Building more infrastructure to make the cycling experience more enjoyable and legitimate as a transportational option will encourage all demographics to hop on the saddle. Infrastructure, be it bike lanes, bike boulevards, bike parking all legitimize cyclists. This legitimization will increase the presence of cyclists. The more cyclists ride, the more confident cyclists can become.

What do you think?