Are girls at an obstacle in terms of mobility?

The shape of the mobility infrastructure in our cities today was largely determined by the reconstruction after World War II. The primary focus was on the car, says mobility expert Katia Dell. She has worked in the transportation and logistics industry for 15 years and deals with change in mobility in podcasts and books. The focus on the car also meant that “breadwinner commuting” took precedence for a long time—the men’s commute to and from work, which they traditionally took by car. In contrast, according to Dale, women primarily took “unseen, unpaid paths.”

Less women use the car

At the same time, the classic division of tasks ensured that women tended to have paths in which they had to combine many different activities. The mobility expert explains that tasks such as bringing children to day care, going to work, or caring for relatives rarely can be combined in linear ways. Diehl says that the classic structure of local public transport (ÖPNV) in large German cities, which usually runs “radially from the center to the suburbs” and lacks cross connections, does not benefit women. The local public transport system in Munich is organized in exactly the same way.

The figures also show that car dominance in cities is of little use to women, because women walk four to five percent more than men. And while men use the car for about half of all trips, only about 37 percent are women. Older women in particular often do not have a driver’s license: in the 70+ age group, the difference is a whopping 20 percent – no wonder – because until 1958 women still had to ask permission from their husbands if they wanted one. driver’s license.

a little security

But here it is not only women who are neglected when it comes to planning city commuting, because another aspect is safety. Julian Krause is a traffic planner who has been dealing with the topic of male-oriented traffic planning for several decades. “What concerns women in particular is the issue of social security and personal safety – that is, the fear of transfers and theft in public,” she says. As a result, women avoided certain routes around town, especially in the evenings.

Inaccessibility as an obstacle

It is also evident elsewhere that mobility structures are geared towards male needs. Because in the absence of accessibility in public transport, it not only makes life more difficult for people with physical disabilities, but also for parents with prams. For example, 29-year-old mother Konstanz Krebs is alarmed by the obstacles she encounters when traveling with a pram on public transport in Munich: “The last time I was at Rotkreuzplatz and went down to the closed floor, but not to the platforms. There was no elevator. Or an escalator down, and then I had to ask people to help me carry the stroller down. That was a stupid moment.”

Possibility improvements

According to mobility expert Katia Del and traffic planner Julian Krause, one reason for male-centric traffic planning is that for a long time it has been men who have held key positions in politics and business and “of course they plan the way that is right for them”. However, as role models change, the problems described no longer affect only women.

Krause also emphasizes this: “Young people do more care work and then of course they are surprised when they drive the pram, because the barriers haven’t gone down or there are no crossing points or there are no zebra crossings. Then they also bring that into planning.” In general, in the context of the mobility transformation, the question of how to redesign our cities has become an increasing focus. Much will change in the future, because women are leaders when it comes to sustainable transportation behaviour, according to Krause.

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