Census reveals information on Pittsburgh’s daily travelers

By Mike Cronin
Thursday, September 20, 2007

It makes sense to some Pittsburghers why many more men than women ride their bikes to work: Skirts.

“Women like to be dressed up,” said Susan Thompson, 56, a Shadyside resident and Whole Foods Market employee in East Liberty. For about four years, Thompson has cycled less than 10 minutes to her job, but she relates to women who must abide by a stricter dress code than she does.

“It’s hard to get there (on a bike) and get changed,” Thompson said.

U.S. Census Bureau data released last week on commuting in the Steel City showed that for every 100 men who bike to work only 13 women do.

Yet the Census showed that women tend to take the bus and carpool more than their male counterparts. Men drive alone in greater numbers than women.

Adrienne Booker, 27, of Homewood, takes the bus from an East Liberty stop every day to get to her bank job Downtown.

“It’s convenient,” Booker said. “And I think women are more comfortable taking what’s perceived as the ‘poor man’s transportation.’ Men don’t want to feel like they’re being stereotypical that way.”

Could that be a reason that more men than women drive alone to work?

No, said Belinda Urso, 42, of Wellsburg, W.Va.

pittsburgh road stats

“That probably goes back to (the idea that) a man won’t stop and ask for directions,” Urso said, referring to another male stereotype. “It’s a male thing. They have to feel more in control, so they have to drive. Women are maybe more dependent.”

Urso carpools one hour each way with two female colleagues who work at McKesson Corp. in Green Tree.

But Urso and her friends don’t gossip — they talk about food all the time.

“I don’t think there’s too much to talk about (the office) anyway,” she explained. “We just go there and do our jobs.”

Not true of Justin Tanaka, 26, of Indiana, Pa., who carpools about three times a week with two or three male colleagues. Often it takes them two hours — longer after rock slides and ice storms — to get to Downtown’s Apangea Learning, an online education company.

“Of course” they gossip, Tanaka said, smashing one more stereotype. This time of year, however, football dominates conversation. All of them belong to the same fantasy league.

Urso and Tanaka share rides to save money, because they live too far away to commute any other way than by vehicle.

Chad Ference’s commute from Bellevue to East Liberty takes 50 minutes — by bicycle.

Even though he could drive, he said he bikes because he’s selling his car to spend even less.

“I’m not a rich guy,” said Ference, 23, who’s cycled to work nearly every day for the past year. “I’m trying to get into bike mode. Once my car is gone, it’s going to be biking nonstop.”

Mike Cronin can be reached at mcronin@tribweb.com or 412-320-7884.

1 Comment

  • nathan says:

    That’s interesting info, though the first two sets of numbers don’t really seem different enough to not chalk up to the differences in numbers of people, by gender, who were interviewed.

    If my fast math’s correct, there were 1800 more men poled than women.

    A two hour bike commute 3x a week is pretty impressive, especially considering how long 2 hours of up hill must seem after working an 8 hour day.

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