Hackney ,

A cycling gender divide: the revelations of Hackney's groundbreaking bike app


A gender divide in cycling shows that women tend to stop biking in middle-age while men continue to ride on into later life, according to initial revelations from Hackney Council’s pioneering free cycle app.

Nearly 1,700 journeys have now been recorded since the Cycle Hackney app launched in June in the first initiative of its kind in the UK by London’s premier cycling borough.

Cyclists use their phones to record their journeys, track their routes, and report problems directly to the Council using camera phones to upload pictures via the ‘report it’ function – setting it apart from other apps.

This information is being used by the Council to help build better bike routes, including contra-flow systems, repair potholes, overcome barriers to biking, tackle cycle parking deficiencies, and understand why cyclists are travelling along certain routes while avoiding others.

But the app has revealed some interesting stats along the gender divide. The majority of women users are between 25-44 years old, and prefer quieter routes, while men, who tend to cycle on main roads, continue to ride on to near-retirement, with 30 per cent between 45 and 64 years old.

Women prefer to use their bikes for commuting, with 70 per cent of their journeys made getting to and from work, and while men also like to cycle to work, they are more inclined to use their cycles for social journeys as well, according to stats taken from more than 600 registered riders.

Men's journeys tend to be slightly longer, with an average of 8.6km to women's 7km, and, interestingly, both sexes are using their bikes for significant work-related journeys of an average of 5km.

And what’s the most popular day of the week to cycle? Tuesday. The least popular days are Mondays and Fridays.

Users of the app are able to keep note of how many miles they have cycled, calories burned and how much carbon dioxide they have theoretically saved.

Ethan Ohs, from Hackney, is a fan. He said: “Rather than having to put a cycle computer on my bike I can track my basic miles with little effort.

“I really like the report feature on the app - it’s nice to be able to notify the Council of problems on a cycle route by just pointing my phone and taking a picture, much better than having to remember where I was when I get home and write an email or make a phone call.”

Another unique feature of the app is its journey-purpose function which allows users to claim cycle business mileage for work-related trips.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Hackney Council
The ultimate aim of this app is to collect enough data to continue to make cycling in Hackney as easy and as simple as possible. But we’re also accumulating really interesting data about who is cycling in our borough and why. The more info we have about who, why and where people are travelling the better we can plan our future transport provision and encourage those not cycling to get pedalling. In the immediate-term, it’s also helps fix problems now - one user reported a pothole on Chatsworth Road, which is repaired, while 70 more reports have been added to our works programme.” Although the app was designed for cyclists, it’s helping to improve the roads for everyone in the borough.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Hackney Council

CycleStreets developed the app for the council, drawing inspiration from similar programmes in America.

Martin Lucas-Smith from CycleStreets said: “Although there are other apps for leisure route sharing, none have focussed on utility cycling data.

“The app will help identify streets and paths heavily used for everyday cycle journeys, as well as letting people report problems on the network. Local people can therefore use it to help the Council improve cycle infrastructure that will enable more people to cycle.

“Higher cycling levels are crucial for economic, environmental and health reasons, and Hackney is a leading borough in this.”

You can download the app for free from the Apple App Store andGoogle play.