Issue addressed: Australian women's participation in cycling for transport and recreation is approximately half that of men. These gender differences do not occur in several western European countries. Research is required to investigate the individual, social and environmental determinants of Australian women's participation in cycling for transport and recreation.
Discussion: Few studies have systematically investigated women's perceptions and experiences of cycling and little is known about what motivates and sustains their involvement. Preliminary indications are that, for women, there may be an interest in and capacity to participate in cycling that is not being translated into practice. Safety concerns appear to be a significant deterrent to women cycling. Safety factors have a differential impact on women as they are generally more risk averse than men. Quantitative risk assessments suggest that the risk of injury associated with cycling is small and that the health benefits outweigh the health costs. Cycling promotion campaigns may achieve greater success with women if they enable women to experience cycling in an environment that both is, and is perceived to be, safe and supportive.
Conclusions: Research is needed to determine what strategies are likely to be most effective in promoting cycling among Australian women, as a basis for developing programs, policies and facilities to support women's participation in cycling.