Reader Contribution by Alison Green
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As motorcyclists, we form only a tiny minority of road users and women comprise a small but growing segment of this family. As a woman rider, I consider the upswing in female ridership a good thing – most of the time!  Sadly I have become increasingly aware that not all is smiles and happiness within the circle. There is an increasing number of women out there who are riding for all of the wrong reasons, and this is creating a serious negative ripple effect.

I have been involved with the Canada Safety Council’s ‘Gearing Up’ program for a number of years. For me this has been more of a learning experience than a teaching position, and I thoroughly enjoy the students and the program.  The students are predominantly willing, motivated, and eager and interaction and participation in discussions is generally lively.

To generalize, the percentage of female students has been rising steadily over the past few years. We now expect somewhere north of 40% of our students not to be male. This is a good thing – except for those unfortunate few ladies who are taking the course for someone else!

For a few women the motivation to get into motorcycling is being provided externally from their partners. When this happens, everything goes sideways right from the start. The students who have been pushed to enrol are nervous, unhappy, frightened and un-receptive. Their concern is to please the partner – not to learn or to enjoy the experience. Fear is a good motivator if one is being chased by a bear – but it doesn’t work well for acquiring the skills to ride a motorcycle! Bad nerves and pouting and anger and much repetition of “I just can’t do this” inevitably result. We have had female students confess quietly to an instructor that their partner has purchased a brand new bike for them – usually of a rather large displacement – and that they are terrified that it will get dropped or scratched. Many also become the unwilling recipients of their partner’s hand-me-down bikes – usually also large and unwieldy. They tell us that they are quite comfortable riding pillion and have no desire to assume control of a heavy, expensive machine. This is not a recipe for success when it comes to actually riding solo – on any size or model.

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