Take a look at this interesting info-graphic that shows, among other things, the differences between the numbers of bicycle commuters by gender. The idea is that one measure of bicycle friendliness is the low ratio of male to female bicyclists.
Why do women commute by bicycle in smaller numbers than men? Is the lower ratio an indication of safety issues that women have with bicycling in traffic? Do we have any proof that a lower ratio is a function of safety? Could cultural or economic issues also play a role? The article in Scientific American (linked above) raises all these questions. I don’t think the answer is as simple as women need bicycling infrastructure to feel safe. I suspect they primarily need a culture that privileges bicycling and/or a culture than treats road users as people rather than objects.
An anecdote and observation: My wife works at home, so she has no commute (unless you count the walk from the kitchen to her desk). But she does ride a bicycle for many trips away from home — when the weather is nice. She navigates the entire Springfield urban core, but is usually not keen on traveling outside that area except to go to church or to the farmer’s market at the mall. (Geez…can we please get that thing moved downtown? A mall parking lot is just soooo not an appropriate venue). So how do you count her in the ratio for Missouri? Well, she doesn’t count. Neither does my daughter who rides to school. Neither do female college students who ride to various destinations other than jobs.
What about utility bicycling? Why is it always about commuting? What would the female-to-male ration look like from a utility perspective? Are we hurting our cause by ignoring (what I think is) a sizable number of participants?