A threatening stranger in an empty train car. A shadow following you down the street at night. No way to make a quick escape. No help in sight. It might sound like a scary movie or a bad dream, but to many women, this is a reality. And it’s not just a chance encounter, either—female commuters face threats to their safety each and every day, but oftentimes must endure the stalking, catcalling, and invasions of personal space in order to get to and from work.
How can we make the everyday commute a safer routine for women? E-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters can help. These modes of transportation can provide a much safer, more controlled experience than public buses and trains. On top of that, they can also add convenience and comfort to the trip as well. Let’s dive into a few examples of how the e-bike revolution can empower female riders.
Most women are well aware of the potential dangers involved in taking public transportation, particularly at night. According to the International Transport Forum, “While women rely more on public transport than men, they are also the most vulnerable to violence in public spaces.” Sexual violence, harassments, catcalling, and abuse in crowded spaces (buses, trains, metros) are on the rise. Public areas like bus stops aren’t free of crime either.
According to the Mineta Transportation Institute, 50% of women surveyed, “Indicated that fear prevents them from using public transportation or parking garages.” In particular, “enclosed spaces with limited exit opportunities such as multi-story parking structures, underground passages, and subway stations” are often cited as the most frightening. Women who are financially able to do so often prefer, “To use their car or take a taxi rather than walk or use public transit because of fear for their safety.”
At night, empty buses or trains can also be dangerous, as there are fewer people around to offer help to those in vulnerable situations. The bottom line is that the threat of crime and harassment has a disproportionate impact on women and their willingness to take public transportation to work.
In big cities, taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft often serve as an alternative to public transportation. Aside from being prohibitively expensive for many some city-dwellers, there are other very legitimate reasons to pass on using a rideshare for your commute. Talk to virtually any woman who has used these services with relative frequency and you’re bound to hear stories that range from awkward to absurd to upsetting.
The fact is, getting in a cab means trusting the driver to act professionally and respectfully; trusting that they’ll actually take you where you need to go. Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to know if a driver is trustworthy. NPR reports that Uber received nearly 6,000 sexual assault claims in two years.
Until rideshare services conduct a major crackdown on this behavior, and enforce thorough background checks on drivers, it behooves female commuters to consider e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters as a safer and more accessible method of transportation.
According to a Wired investigation into gender equity on public transportation, “Women tended to travel to fewer locations than men, and within smaller geographical areas.” In this way, e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters are perfectly suited for female riders—they’re expressly designed for those who commute only a few miles to work and back, rather than long distances.
These vehicles also allow riders to travel on the street in multi-purpose cycle and bike lanes. According to the League of American Bicyclists, “94% of women in Portland said separated bike lanes made their ride safer,” and studies in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New Orleans all showed, “Dramatic increases in female ridership after the installation of bike lanes.”
The good news is that an increasing number of local governments are allocating funding to create space for cycle lanes to encourage alternate electric forms of transportation. Case in point: the Federal Highway Administration’s efforts to increase the development of cycle lanes across the country. Initiatives like these have done much to make electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds safer to ride in large cities and suburban areas across the country.
Comfort is an important factor in selecting an e-bike, e-moped, or e-scooter—especially if you intend to commute or ride regularly. If you are a woman who dresses formally for work, e-scooters may be a good purchase for you. Testing from Wired suggests that, “E-scooters are easier to ride in restrictive clothing like heels and skirts,” and are flexible enough to accommodate all different types of outfits.
Furthermore, as more women start to invest in e-bikes, we’re seeing increased availability of models with step-through frames. This type of e-bike is easy to board and allows the rider to keep their feet flat on the ground. In addition to being more comfortable than a typical bike frame, this style is more accessible to those wearing long skirts or dresses, allowing riders to pedal without the risk of an untimely snag.
We would be remiss if we didn’t review a few simple rules that female e-riders—and all e-riders, for that matter—should follow to protect themselves.
In a world in which sexual assault and violence in public places is a major concern for many women, any solution that provides more control, more maneuverability, and more power to female riders is a step in the right direction. E-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters have been proven to provide these kinds of unique safety benefits.
Likewise, the increasing accessibility of multi-purpose cycle lanes offers even more assurance, and appears to be influencing more women to choose micromobility than ever before. And new engineering trends—like the growing popularity of step-through frame e-bikes—show that manufacturers aren’t just building vehicles with the male body in mind, and that’s a great sign. After all, the micromobility revolution only happens when everyone can enjoy the ride.