Research tells how safety concerns impact women’s travel patterns

By Claus Köllinger / Updated: 04 May 2021

Ramboll’s Gender and (Smart) Mobility report has been published, which made use of more than 3,500 gender-segregated data sets from 7 capitals: Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, New Delhi, and Singapore. The goal of the study was to investigate gender inequalities and differences in transport and mobility and supporting bridging any gaps.

The report findings clearly show that security and safety issues impact women on their trips through the cities and respective modal choices. Cities should directly react to this by putting safety and security concerns at the heart of urban mobility projects and strategies: to deliver safe and secure mobility and transport design.

Public transport and walking are the two main modal choices of women in the 7 capitals. Survey results show that women give a higher importance to feeling safe at a public transport station and on-board than men. Waiting times at stops and stations raise concerns and fears. These depend on the actual design of the stops and stations as well as on the presence of staff or not. More women than men consider the 'distance to a stop' as a factor of whether to use public transport or not. They also indicate a fear of harassment and assault connected to public transport more often.

For walking, women fear harassment and assaults more than men, and also see carrying goods as more of a challenge. Bicycling is seen as unsafe by a far larger share of women than men across all research methods used. Even cycling capitals like Copenhagen saw issues such as challenges from individuals cycling too fast and too aggressively.

Safety and security is a common problem no matter the geography or culture. For example, defence preparations of women when walking at night were found to be the same in all seven cities, ranging from:

  • avoiding certain areas;
  • avoiding stay out too late;
  • wearing shoes that are good for running;
  • holding a key ready to be used as a defence weapon.

The clear message to cities and transport planners is to end neglecting the needs of women and to integrate safety and security in all new designs and re-designs. Marianne Weinreich, Market Manager for Smart Mobility at Rambol says “This is about having a lens that focuses on women’s needs, but if you cater for those considerations, you actually create better mobility for all. If we cannot facilitate and include women’s needs, who make up half the population, then we are really challenged in delivering inclusive design for minorities.”

The full report is accessible here.


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Article published first at CitiesToday on 21st April 2021.

Policy and research