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Are mobility systems gender-neutral?

The global engineering, architecture and consultancy company, Ramboll, has been discussing whether mobility systems in Europe and beyond are gender-neutral. Research released this week by the company suggests that men still dominate the transport sector, where less than a third of people employed are women. It also says that the way women and men move around society also differs significantly and asks the question whether mobility systems are biased towards men's travel needs and patterns?

Future Cities Forum spoke to the lead author of the report Marianne Weinrich, Market Manager, Smart Mobility Ramboll, who said that in India women are asking for segregated transport while in Copenhagen with the news of Sarah Everard's death, in-depth thinking is now taking place on gender-neutral walking, cycling and bus/train travel.

Marianne said there is 'an unconscious bias in the way thinking takes place around womens' travel and the data collected through this report should now be put to work to change this. All women in the survey said they worried about walking, cycling or taking transport at night and all adopted similar behaviours in trying to stay safe, such as not leaving it too late to make their way home, or holding keys in their pockets to use as a weapon in case of attack. However, she stressed that it is no longer appropriate to think of women as 'hysterical' for being fearful but that their worries should be a catalyst for change.

Ramboll Smart Mobility investigated the topic with support form the Ramboll Foundation, Trafikverket, SLL (Stockholm County Council) in Sweden, HSL (The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority) in Finland and VBB (Verkehrsverbund Berlin- Brandenburg) in Germany. The findings were drawn from research, expert interviews and a survey of more than 3,500 people across 7 countries in the report 'Gender and (smart) Mobility.'

The report states:

'A lower female participation in the work force and the fact that women often are responsible for more tasks related to organising family life implies that women walk, use public transport and worry about harassment while doing so much more than men...One of the challenges that the research revealed was that women to a greater extent than men were concerned for their personal safety when walking at night.'

It was also found that women were the more frequent users of public transport over men and they feared for their personal safety with harassment and assault being mentioned as a concern.

The report added:

'Women are more likely to make shorter trips while carrying groceries and accompanying children while men make longer but simpler trips to the office...our mobility networks do not cater for women's needs for multiple, shorter trips outside the peak hours...In general women travel more sustainably than men - walking, using public transport and cycling when and where possible...tapping into this could be very interesting as we work toward creating a more sustainable, CO2-neutral, and green transport sector...the way we design and plan our mobility systems becomes crucial if we want our societies to be equitable and thrive'.


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