What is the biggest issue in transportation and public space for women? - Do práce na kole

What is the biggest issue in transportation and public space for women?

What is the biggest issue in transportation and public space for women?
8. 3. 2022

According to research, gender is one of the factors that influences people’s mobility in the cities and their daily behavior in traffic. It makes sense. More than a hundred years ago, (not only)public space started to grow and give in and adapt to cars. Nowadays, car traffic dominates our lives. In most European households, it is the man who uses the car. Men usually have driver’s licenses and make up a significant part of active drivers. Their typical commute through the city is going and coming from work. And what do women do?

Their patterns are much more complicated than men´s when it comes to commuting in the city. And men who usually are more “in charge” do not know this perspective. Women rarely only travel to and from work. Worldwide, 75% of all unpaid care activities are performed by women, and this is reflected in their transportation behavior. They make longer trips through the cities with many different stops.

Chores, kids, doctors…

The reasons for this are not difficult to find. Home care (groceries), elderly care (escort to doctors or medicine pick up), and kids (escort to school and afterschool activities). All of these chores are done by women in a typical European family. At the same time, they usually depend on public transport or walking, and they manage different things throughout the commute. Last year’s study by the Transport Research Center found that 64% of female respondents were unsatisfied with the possibilities of traveling where they need to, the lack of connections at some point during the day, the lack of stops, or the conditions of pedestrians infrastructure. It does not only ignores the needs of parents with strollers, or little kids but also elderly people.

Dark and untidy places make women uncomfortable

A longer, but safer way

Aside from the fact that the logistics of the chores is a relatively complex administrative task, women in public spaces also have significantly bigger worries about their safety than men. They don’t go through underpasses without lights, dark parks, or unkempt dark corners. According to surveys, more than half of women in the EU avoid certain places in their cities, even if it makes their commute longer. The theory of broken windows, which has been proven multiple times through the decades, shows that hostile environments directly foster criminal action. For example, according to this research, one out of three Czech women has suffered sexual harassment on public transport or in public spaces.

Invisible women

At the same time, women perceive sustainable transport and a friendly public space as essential topics. But the transport sector and its planning have been traditionally run by men. This is true not only in our country but also all around the world. But many European and North American cities have learned to listen to the voices of women, children, people with reduced mobility, and the elderly. Gender planning in transport services and infrastructure has become an integral part of urban planning. While in our country, the female point of view is missing in many areas. This way, women’s voices are not heard.

While travelling around the city, women are more depending on public transport

Where it works, everyone wins

You can visit Vienna, Berlin, or Barcelona, for example, to see how this planning looks in real life. In the center of these cities, public space is no longer thought of as a car (in Vienna thanks to Eva Kail, in Barcelona thanks to Silvia Casorran Martos). Urban offices (in part because of the active population and the insufferable air pollution caused by cars) are centered on how to be the most agreeable place for everyone, avoiding car journeys. And wonderfully, in the end, everyone benefits from the changes that these cities are going through.

That is why, on the occasion of International Women’s Day (but not only) we wish that our cities´ streets stop being used by cars and take into account the needs, concerns, and means of transport not only of women but by a large part of society.

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