I have a few days in the big smoke so a chance to find out why boys die faster than girls on bikes.
Melbourne sits on the east side of a large bay with only a narrow entrance to the ocean. Beach road winds its way along cliff tops and beside beaches. It’s beautiful and busy and very popular with cyclists. And they are not especially loved by the car drivers or indeed the pedestrians.
I spent two sessions with a clip board and pen sitting by the side of the road. The first session was from 5pm to 6pm on a Friday evening. Rush hour traffic. The second session was on Saturday morning from 8.20 to 8.35.
It might be considered likely that commuters were well represented in rush hour whilst virtually every cyclist on Saturday morning was riding for fun or fitness.
There were so many cyclists in the second session that I was restricted to counting one side of the road only.
So on Saturday morning I counted 241 cyclists passing my nose in fifteen minutes. 216 were male, 25 were female. The other side of the road seemed equally busy so it seems reasonable to double the number. Multiply by 4 to get an hourly figure which brings us close to nearly 2,000 cyclists an hour using Beach Road as a training track. 89.6% were boys 10.4% were girls.
By comparison there were few brave enough to tackle Beach Road during the evening rush hour the previous day. Just 54 passed counting in both directions during an hour of observation and only 2 were female. 96.3% versus 3.7%.
Why was it that 90% of cyclists killed 1999 and 2015 were male? Because there is a big imbalance between the sexes when it comes to cycling. 90% of cyclists are male.
How can this ratio be improved? In an admittedly small sample it does appear that higher female participation rates can be achieved if they are given the opportunity to take their clothes off.