Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration observed since 1911 to recognize the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world. Eric Britton at World Streets wrote a commemorative piece on how “women hold the key to the future of not only sustainable transportation but also to a sustainable and just world.”
He makes two broad statements: 1) Women are a metric for sustainability. “If we design our systems to offer quality service to women in all their varieties and situations, we are going to get an entirely different kind of transportation system. And a better one.”
And, 2) it’s important for women to be more involved in the decision-making process at all levels of the transport sector “to inform policy and practice.”
Here at TheCityFix, we’ve written about gender inequality (and empowerment!) in the transport sector before. Below are some highlights over the past year:
Live from the Clinton Global Initiative: Although not explicitly stated in the panel, [“Investing and Girls and Women,”] gender inequality permeates the transportation world. The problems female transit users face in cities around the world may not be entirely equivalent to the global atrocities of war, rape, or torture, but there are numerous studies that show women’s fear of victimization in transportation settings, like bus stops, and other public spaces. Also, transport policies often marginalize or ignore women, who have different travel patterns and behaviors than men but do not have access to adequate transit routes. And gender workforce segregation in the transit industry has also shown to be a detrimental factor to a city’s economy.
Following the lead of Tokyo, where the subway has implemented female-only cars so that women can avoid the unwanted gaze or grope of overly-aggressive men, Mexico City has now introduced buses reserved exclusively for women
The Dutch town of Haarlem has walk and don’t walk signs that are women instead of men. We should too.
Not only is it important on gender grounds—those little walking people are just one more place where ungendered turns out to be male—but it’s fun!
There’s been an absolutely fantastic debate going on online today about the gender gap in urban cycling. This NYT City Room post started off the debate. It notes that in the U.S., men make 3x as many trips by bike than women do and provides two reasons for this. The first is that women are more concerned about safety and suggests that a better bike infrastructure would solve the problem. The second reason the Times provides is that women are more concerned about fashion than men are, though the article does point out that women in Copenhagen don’t seem to have any trouble being stylish and biking.