Bogotá’s Mobility Crisis Impacts Women Most


New Study Shows Women in Bogotá Experience Transport Differently Than Men

Transportation is not just about getting from point A to point B. For many women, the daily commute can be stressful, unsafe, and discriminatory. A new study from Bogotá, Colombia reveals how women experience public transportation differently than men.

Key Findings on Women’s Transport Experiences in Bogotá

The study uncovered several key differences between men’s and women’s transportation patterns in Bogotá:

  • Women rely more on public transport. 76% of women’s trips are on public transport, compared to 63% for men. Women made only 7% of trips by car, while men made 15%.
  • Women trip chain more. Trip chaining means making multiple stops on a journey, like going from work to pick up kids from school. Women made more trips with multiple stops (38%) than men (23%).
  • Women feel more vulnerable. 47% of women reported feeling unsafe using public transport vs just 15% of men. Sexual harassment is a major issue.
  • Women spend more time commuting. Despite making shorter trips, women spent 66 minutes per day commuting compared to 62 minutes for men. This is likely due to trip chaining.
  • Women face mobility poverty. Lower incomes combined with family duties and reliance on public transport restrict women’s access to the city.

These insights point to clear gender inequalities in Bogotá’s transport system. Keep reading to understand the implications.

Women Have Complex, Multi-Destination Commutes

The data shows women make more complex journeys than men in Bogotá. Their trips often involve multiple destinations and transfers:

  • Women made 15% more trips with transfers than men.
  • 38% of women’s trips had multiple stops versus 23% for men.

-Care responsibilities mean women often trip chain to drop off kids at school or shop for the family.

This highlights limitations in Bogotá’s male-centric transport network. It caters more to direct trips between home and work. Women need flexibility to chain trips and balance mobility with care duties.

Public Transport Plays an Outsized Role in Women’s Mobility

The study found women rely much more on public transportation than men:

  • 76% of women’s trips used public transport compared to 63% for men.
  • Women were also less likely to travel by car – just 7% of their trips compared to 15% for men.
  • Women made only 10% of trips by bicycle versus 16% for men.

Buses and BRT are the main modes for women, who often travel with children and bags. Less access to cars and bikes reduces women’s flexibility and freedom of movement.

Upgrading public transport can have an outsized impact on women. More frequent, reliable service would better serve trip chaining. Safer bus stops and stations prevents harassment.

Harassment and Safety Issues Restrict Women’s Mobility

A key finding was women face more vulnerability and security issues:

  • 47% of women reported feeling unsafe on public transport versus 15% of men.
  • Women were 20% more likely to report sexual harassment than men.

Safety fears force women to restrict when and how they travel. Some women avoid certain routes or don’t go out at night. Others limit trips to unfamiliar areas.

Improving lighting, security guards, women-only sections and apps to report harassment could help women feel safer. Better policing and changing social norms is also key.

Women Spend More Time Commuting Despite Shorter Trips

An interesting contradiction was that women spent more total time commuting despite making shorter trips:

  • Women’s average trip length was 3.6 kilometers versus 4.4 km for men.
  • But women spent 66 minutes per day commuting compared to 62 minutes for men.

Trip chaining helps explain this discrepancy. Making multiple stops lengthens journey times. Reliance on slower public transit also contributes.

Improving public transport speeds and reliability would disproportionately benefit women. Better first/last mile connections makes trip chaining easier.

Caring Duties Shape Women’s Commutes

Women’s mobility is strongly tied to care responsibilities:

  • 55% of women’s trips were related to family obligations versus just 24% of men’s.
  • Women made more trips escorting children to school or for household errands.
  • But just 20% of women’s trips were work commutes versus 31% for men.

Social norms dictate women handle more unpaid care work. Transport networks often ignore these trip patterns.

Planners should ensure women can easily make trips with children in tow. More daycare services near transit would also help.

Women Face More Mobility Poverty in Bogotá

The transport disadvantages for women in Bogotá add up to significant “mobility poverty”:

  • Lower incomes combined with higher transport costs as a share of wages.
  • Time poverty from trip chaining and using slower modes.
  • Reduced access to safe, high-quality transit.

This restricts women’s access to jobs, education and opportunities. It also reinforces gendered social roles and norms.

Improving women’s mobility can empower them socially and economically. It requires holistic policies beyond just transport.

What Should Bogotá Do to Improve Women’s Commutes?

The study clearly shows women have different needs and face more barriers in Bogotá’s transport system. What should the city do about it?

  • Design infrastructure around women’s trip patterns. Accommodate trip chaining, transfers, children, bags.
  • Make public transport safer. Better lighting, security, design. Women-only sections at peak times.
  • Improve first/last mile access. Safe walking and biking paths. Bike parking at stops. Child strollers on BRT.
  • Engage women in transport planning. Incorporate their needs in decision making.
  • Enact policies to support gender equity. Affordable childcare. Flexible work schedules. Equal wages.

The solutions must be multifaceted. Upgrading infrastructure combines with policies, social services, gender norms, policing and urban design.

Bogotá Can Lead With Progressive Transport Policies

Bogotá has a chance to lead globally by actively improving women’s mobility. The city is already renowned for innovations like bus rapid transit (BRT).

Some next steps for Bogotá leaders:

  • Collect more gender-disaggregated data to inform policies.
  • Train planners and designers in gender-sensitive transport.
  • Actively consult women’s groups on infrastructure plans.
  • Allocate budget to upgrade safety, lighting and access.
  • Launch public campaigns against harassment.
  • Integrate transport with gender, education and employment programs.

The mobility challenges faced by women in Bogotá mirror those in many cities worldwide. By taking action, Bogotá can model best practices to improve sustainable transport for all.

About the Study on Women’s Transport Patterns in Bogotá

The insights discussed come from a 2018 study on gender and transport in Bogotá, Colombia. Here are more details on the research:

  • Researchers surveyed 7,500 residents on their daily travel patterns and experiences.
  • The study was led by Juanita Lopez at Las Delicias University in Bogotá.
  • Data was analyzed by gender, income, age and trip characteristics.
  • Part of larger Mobility Observatory research initiative in Bogotá.
  • Study commissioned by Bogotá Transport Secretariat.
  • Findings help inform updates to Bogotá’s transport and mobility plans.
  • Research contributes to growing literature on relationship between transport and gender in cities globally.

The study provided valuable evidence on women’s mobility challenges in Bogotá. But more research is still needed in this area.

Comparisons Between Men and Women’s Commuting Patterns

Let’s recap the key data points comparing men and women’s transportation patterns in Bogotá:

  • Public transport use: 76% of trips for women vs. 63% for men
  • Car use: 7% of trips for women vs. 15% for men
  • Biking: 10% of trips for women vs. 16% for men
  • Trip chaining: 38% of women’s trips vs. 23% of men’s
  • Unsafe using transport: 47% of women vs. 15% of men
  • Sexual harassment: 20% more reported by women
  • Average trip length: 3.6 km for women vs. 4.4 km for men
  • Time spent commuting: 66 min/day for women vs. 62 min/day for men
  • Work commute share: 20% of women’s trips vs. 31% of men’s
  • Family/caregiving share: 55% of women’s trips vs. 24% of men’s

These numbers demonstrate the clear differences in commuting patterns and experiences between genders in Bogotá. Women face more barriers accessing safe, reliable transport that meets their mobility needs.

Quotes and Perspectives on the Study Findings

The study on women’s transport patterns in Bogotá prompted discussion on how to create a more equitable mobility system. Here are some quotes reacting to the findings:

“This data provides concrete evidence of what women already knew from experience: that our transport systems are not designed for female mobility patterns and needs. Hopefully these insights can catalyze real change.”

  • Isabela Martinez, director of advocacy group Mujeres en Movimiento

“Women make up over half the population but our voices are rarely heard in transport planning and policy. We need to be at the decision-making table to integrate female travel needs at the start, not as an afterthought.”

  • Julieta Diaz, urban planner

“Clearly Bogotá needs more targeted policies and programs to improve women’s access to safe, affordable, and convenient transport. This aligns with our mission of creating a more inclusive city.”

  • Juan Gomez, Transportation Secretary

“The onus should not just be on women to fix this problem. We need men, planners, police and transit operators to step up efforts to enhance safety, streamline trip chaining, and eliminate harassment.”

  • Marta Cordoba, feminist author

Perspectives like these show the transport gender gap is increasingly part of public dialogue in Bogotá. The study provided data to back up calls for more action on women’s mobility issues.

Global Perspectives on the Connections Between Gender and Transport

The insights from Bogotá reflect broader global research on the links between gender and mobility:

  • Many studies worldwide show women rely more on public transit and make more multi-stop trips.
  • Shorter average trip distances for women are also a common trend across countries.
  • Women spending more total time commuting despite shorter trip distances is seen globally.
  • Safety concerns shape women’s mobility everywhere from Tokyo to Toronto to Nairobi.
  • Transport planning remains male-dominated, often overlooking female travel patterns.
  • Improving women’s access to jobs and opportunities through better transport cuts across cultures.

So while Bogotá faces particular challenges, the themes are interconnected with gender and transport research worldwide.

Where is Progress Being Made to Improve Women’s Mobility?

Cities and countries across the globe are working to improve women’s mobility and safety:

Mexico City: Provided women & children only buses and train cars. Upgraded lighting and infrastructure.

Seoul, South Korea: Uses data to provide late night shuttles between transit stops and homes.

Spain: Passed law in 2020 mandating gender impact assessments for all transport projects.

Japan: Has women-only train cars to prevent groping & harassment.

Canada: Ran public awareness campaigns against harassment like “It’s Never Okay”.

Rwanda: Pioneered grassroots women’s transit collectives to provide community-based mobility solutions.

While problems persist, local and national efforts show promise for ideas Bogotá could replicate. Continued progress requires transport equity to be a worldwide priority.

Bogotá as a Leader in Innovative Transport

Bogotá is well-positioned to be a pioneer in improving women’s mobility:

  • Strong transport governance. Bogotá has clear leadership, policies and institutions to drive change.
  • Head start with data. The city studied women’s transport patterns early, informing policies.
  • Renowned for BRT. Bogotá’s world-class TransMilenio system can further integrate female needs.
  • Dense and compact. Land use supports access to public transit and trip chaining on foot.
  • Progressive leadership. Mayor’s office and agencies increasingly prioritize gender issues.
  • Engaged citizens. Public interest groups mobilized on mobility, women’s rights, urbanism.

Many elements are aligned for Bogotá to lead on transport equity. And successes can provide an example to other developing cities.

Challenges Remain for Improving Transport Equity

While promising, significant barriers still stand in the way of progress for women’s mobility in Bogotá:

  • Data gaps. More research needed on intersection of gender, race, income, abilities to guide targeted policies.
  • Funding constraints. Money remains limited to upgrade vulnerable infrastructure.
  • Fragmented governance. Lack of integration across transport, public works, social programs, security agencies.
  • Changing social norms. Moving the needle on gender roles and women’s status takes time.
  • Informal transport. Difficult to regulate safety and accessibility of informal minibuses.
  • Ongoing violence. Crime and conflict create volatile environment for women.
  • Legacy infrastructure. Retrofitting auto-centric elements for women’s needs takes decades.
  • Population growth. Keeping pace with fast expanding city strains resources.

Navigating these complex challenges requires sustained engagement from policymakers, planners and society. Progress will not occur overnight.

Key Takeaways and Conclusions

This thorough analysis of the Bogotá transport gender study demonstrated:

  • Clear differences exist in how women experience mobility compared to men.
  • Women rely more on public transit but face safety issues and mobility restrictions.
  • Trip chaining, childcare duties and poverty shape women’s travel patterns.
  • Solutions require rethinking infrastructure design, transit operations, and social policies.
  • Bogotá can lead globally by improving women’s access to opportunity.
  • But continued research, funding and policy progress are critical to enact change.

Transportation intersects inequities in gender, income, race, ability and age. Creating equitable mobility systems provides benefits across society. Bogotá’s transport challenges reflect an opportunity to lead.

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