The comparison and interaction of age and gender effects on cycling mode-share: An analysis of commuting in England and Wales

The physical and mental health benefits of cycling are well established. During the COVID-19 pandemic cycling has also presented additional health benefits by enabling social distancing compared to public transport modes. In low-cycling countries these benefits are unevenly realized, with substantial differences in cycling mode share by age and gender. In England and Wales women are four times less likely to commute by bicycle than men; and commuters aged 35–49 cycle more than other age categories. This paper explores these demographic effects and their interactions. It uses logit models to examine the relationship between 17 determinants of cycling mode share and cycling rates for six demographic groups (males and females in age categories of 18-34, 35–49 and 50–74) across 29,694 small geographic units in England and Wales. The determinants comprise: distance; population density; cycle paths; cycle lanes; traffic density; hilliness; temperature; sun; rain; wind; wealth; lower social status; children; green votes; bicycle performance; traffic risk and parking costs. Determinants associated with physical effort (hilliness and distance) and traffic (traffic density and cycle lanes) are more important in the older age groups for both men and women. More important than the qualitative mix of determinants is their combined effect, or utility. Women require a higher threshold of utility to start cycling than men; and in higher utility environments gender differences are almost non-existent. Differences in cycling rates by age-group also reduce in higher utility environments, although the effects are less pronounced and older commuters still cycle less than other age-groups even in the highest utility environments. The results provide insight into the relative importance of gender versus age, and illustrate that cycling rates are more strongly associated with gender than age. For both dimensions, better cycling environments are shown to be more equal cycling environments.


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  • Accession Number: 01764909
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 21 2021 3:39PM