Several months ago, I made a casual observation. I noted that when riding my bicycle, most of the females I passed going in the opposite direction gave no response to my nods, waves or 'good mornings.' My initial response was to think that I simply hadn't really been paying attention, and the odds of a person, regardless of gender, responding to my hellos had to be more equal. So, I started paying better attention to those I was greeting.
I should note, that not every male cyclist heading in the opposite direction acknowledged me either, but the percentage who made some kind of attempt to offer a reply - or even initiate a greeting - was far higher than the females.
Soon, I started paying attention to the cyclists I passed on roads in town. If I casually waved or smiled at a rider, regardless of gender, the person on a bike was far more likely to respond in some fashion. However, I also realized that many of the transportation cyclists I was passing were male, which may have skewed this as any sort of valid theory/test/observation (not that any of this has any real or accurate measurement, as it's simply one persons experience). But, overall I did come to realize that the females I did pass seemed far more likely to offer a greeting when cycling for transportation.
Why does any of this matter? You may be asking yourself. I asked it of myself too when I started obsessing over this idea that seemed ridiculous. In the grand scheme of life, perhaps it doesn't make much of a difference, but I couldn't help but wonder about the cause or the motivation for the females on two wheels to all but ignore other riders on the road.
Random thoughts regarding this theory I was making started to develop. Perhaps those on a bike in town were moving at a slower pace and simply more aware of those around them? They weren't necessarily focused on getting a certain speed or rhythm to their riding and perhaps this plays a larger role than I would think. Maybe the female cyclists who were in training mode get harassed by male cyclists and have made it a policy to pay strict attention to what is directly in front of them, rather than glancing around them? It is entirely possible that this is a matter of geography and other locations in the country and world don't experience this same phenomena, or it could be that it is entirely just luck of the draw and I seem to happen past riders who choose not to greet other cyclists on the roads.
Though somewhat a different issue with possibly different answers, I have found that if I'm stopped on the side of the road, most male cyclists will ask if I have everything I need or if I require assistance, whereas it is pretty rare that a female will ask the same question(s) when passing. This scenario is perhaps a bit trickier to get into based on gender, and pretty much any observation made for either greetings or break-downs would require a lot of assumption-based theory, but I do find it interesting.
Obviously, I don't have any accurate findings to make purely on cycling by another person, but I am curious if anyone has experienced something similar, or to the contrary, or if you have any thoughts on why this could be taking place? Perhaps this is all just happenstance? Although it is certainly no skin off my nose if a cyclist doesn't respond, I am curious as to why there appears to be such a vast difference in response based on a riders gender. Could it be that there are simply more male cyclists and it just appears that more of them respond because there are higher numbers? Even given the higher percentage of males, it still seems that there are very few females responding. I love to see other women out on the roads and I suppose I simply have found this situation a bit curious and am trying to make a bit of sense of it. If you have a moment to respond, I'd be curious to know if you personally greet other cyclists, respond to others' hellos, or if you've observed anything in regard to passing other riders?