Why are American women still the poster children for lonely, unoccupied drivers?

When Toronto’s RideTheWagon posted photos earlier this month of a somber-looking, dressed-down man driving a bicyclist around a highway, the story soon went viral. It’s easy to understand why: American men (and women) love to drive. It’s not surprising that, when they do, they’d let someone else drive them around the block. But when it’s a female driver doing the driving? Last week, Toronto’s mayor said that such cars are out of control in the city.

Seeing that scenario play out again made one female rider share her thoughts on the whole ordeal. Tatiana Calderon, the bike rider whose viral photos were a guide to the article:

“Ride The Wagon” continues @san_gomez80 from the 4th of July Bike Race in Canada on Aug 21, 2017, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (photo by @rikenivaldo) pic.twitter.com/jtXXd4nQ0h — RideTheWagon (@RideTheWagon) October 3, 2017

It’s so rare that we hear about an American female driver. Usually, they’re the ones with the beach shirt still on (over their cargo shorts) trying to figure out a way to get from A to B without anyone noticing. I feel like I almost have to stalk these and post about them anyway (twice a year, normally) in case people feel like it’s important enough to talk about, but they often make me cry: @ TAYLORYELODEON A post shared by TANYA (@tanaegrinder) on Sep 30, 2017 at 2:50pm PDT

When asked why they chose to be a cyclist, many of the women I’ve interviewed told me it was about friendship, fitness and independence. Because cycling can be, well, lonely. Those qualities aren’t specific to biking alone, but that’s part of the draw.

That’s the power of cycling. It helps fill that loneliness and creates new friends. pic.twitter.com/tPRY2TeDqa — RideTheWagon (@RideTheWagon) September 29, 2017

To give some context: In a 2015 study, cyclists reported higher rates of depression than non-cyclists. But that’s because women tend to bike more than men, they don’t look good enough, they’re trapped in a one-car family, they’re afraid of the helmet — and bikes have equalizing effects. One executive who started her own business because she saw her company be cut out of the circle when she went to work and didn’t have her own bike. The common ground is sport. Even when we are sometimes alone in our cars, we’re speaking to people. But we also share our life, together, outdoors. Many women’s bikes I know are mounted to a bench or kitchen table. They’re like books. They can’t be locked away.

When they do get out of cars, women have a different feeling than men. The difference is profound. It’s like the feeling of when you see a pair of sneakers that you wanted to buy but never did, for some strange reason. You wouldn’t feel that way when you saw a pair of shoes that you wanted to buy, but when you see them you start to think about the cash you’ll have to spend and the emotional investment that goes into buying them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KwfzaUzaSM&sns=em

Women who cycle simply are asking for more time. Telling them to go shopping is short-sighted. When women could take a taxi, men could have the same luxury of (hopefully) having someone else drive them around. If every time you pass a man behind the wheel of a vehicle you think about the inconvenience of a taxi or IHop, you’re making changes that impact everyone on the road.

When cyclists spend more time outdoors, cars spend less time honking in their general direction. The car owners seem to take away from the safety of people on the road too. As a result, bicyclists get in more danger, more often. And when cars can’t see us, cyclists get hurt more often. When cars see cyclists, they get scared, too. But that’s the whole point. They should be scared about us too.

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