The SMH ran an article today based on a study by a US academic called Sydney: the city that hates bikes.
I was going to bag the article to hell, but before doing so, I thought I should read the study itself.
The study turned out to be a good read - and whilst it mentions agro driving in Sydney as being one factor in discouraging cycling, I got the feeling that this was not the point the author was trying to make. The study is in fact utterly non-sensational, and looks at a whole range of factors such as weather, population density, geography, public transport and bike infrastructure. Trust the bloody SMH to cherry pick one sensational paragraph and splash it over the front page (which they did).
Here's an interesting graph from the study, which compares the percentage of female cyclists by suburb with the cycling to work mode share. To me, it indicates a strong relationship between mode share and female participation in cycling. If women feel safe, more of them will ride - and then you get a "safety in numbers" factor kicking in, so more people ride. When I started commuting, women made up 5% or less of bike commuters. However, they've been steadily increasing over the last few years, and they must be up to 20% at least on my route. According to this graph, that is a good thing - the virtuous cycle has kicked in. So the best way to increase cycling numbers is to make women feel safer. We can make them feel safer by issuing potential women cyclists with a handgun, giving them some training, and encouraging them to open fire on angry motorists at the slightest provocation. It's for the best.