Women Less Likely Than Men To Commute By Bike, Strava Finds

Year-end data report highlights particularly high disparity in US.

Strava marked its 10th anniversary in 2019.
Strava marked its 10th anniversary in 2019.Image courtesy Strava

Worldwide, women are 6.6 percent less likely to commute to work by bicycle, but that disparity is far greater in the US at 14.6 percent, according to a year-end data report from Strava, the GPS activity tracking service and fitness social network. The company compiled the data using its Strava Metro service, which tracks its members’ mobility patterns for use by city planners and departments of transportation.

Of the eight countries highlighted in Strava’s 2019 Year in Sport report (Strava tracks athletes in more than 190 countries), only Brazil had a higher female-to-male disparity, with women 24.6 percent less likely than men to commute. By contrast, in Denmark—renowned for its abundant bicycle infrastructure and strong cycling culture—women were 24.4 more likely than men to commute by bicycle. In the Danish capital of Copenhagen, that figure dropped to 17.3 but was still well on the positive side for women commuters.

Strava bike commuting data
The US has a long way to go in attracting more women to commuting by bike, according to Strava data.Image courtesy Strava

Among the handful of US cities highlighted in the report, the cycling mecca of Portland, Oregon, had the slimmest disparity, with women just 2.1 less likely than men to commute. That compares with 6.7 percent in New York and 14.5 percent in car-crazed Los Angeles.

Globally, Strava users commuted more than 315 million miles by bike in 2019. Riders in the US contributed 44.6 million of those miles at a median distance of 4.6 miles. That might sound impressive—until you look at Strava’s commuting figures for the United Kingdom. Despite having a population (66.4 million) less than a quarter of the US, Strava users in the UK logged 70 million miles—25.6 million more than stateside—at a median distance of 5.1 miles. That works out to a per-capita overall population average of 1.05 miles commuted per person for the full year, compared with 0.14 mile in the US (population 327.2 million), 0.17 mile in France (population 70 million), and 0.21 mile in Germany (population 82.8 million.)

The female-to-male disparity is also lower in the UK than in the US, with women 10.7 less likely than men to commute by bicycle. That contrasts with highlighted countries in continental Europe, where women were—like in Denmark—more likely than men to commute in France (+0.7 percent), Germany (+0.8 percent), and Spain (+3.6 percent). Japan also had a higher female representation at +10.7 percent.

The Year in Sport report did not break out ebike usage among commuters or recreational use of ebikes. (Strava users can select “E-Bike Ride” as their activity rather than just “Ride” when they start the app.)

Strava celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. It currently has 48 million members, up from 36 million in last year’s data report.