Is the U.S. anti bike?

Is your bike a part of your life?  Are you sure?  Where do you ride and when?

I just returned from a chilly morning ride.  Basically, I rode in a big circle. Clad in ‘riding’ clothes and ‘riding’ shoes, I rode.  I then showered so I can dress in ‘regular’ clothes and drive to work.  When I come home, if we need milk, I’ll probably drive to the convenience store to make that purchase.

Today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required) outlines the growing bike culture in Europe.  All over Europe, investments are being made to improve an already established bike infrastructure.  Why?  Well currently, places like Amsterdam whose train station holds 2000 bikes regularly see up to twice that each morning.  That’s because 40% of its residents commute by bike.  In Copenhagen, one third use two wheels to get to work.

In contrast, efforts to make the US more bike friendly tend to meet stiff opposition.  Merchants feel that any restrictions on cars will hurt business.  They desire more parking and lower meter rates.  They are currently working hard to stop Manhattan’s proposed congestion pricing system designed to reduce traffic on the island by charging people who drive down old Broadway, 5th Ave, Park Ave, etc.  at the wrong times.

So I ask again, Is cycling something you do or something you are.

I can’t answer that question.  I am so into the sport, I may be forgetting the time when I would go anywhere on a bike.  I coach lacrosse and soccer on fields about a mile from my house.  What am I teaching the kids when I tell them to pile into the car.  In fact, my daughter wants to take the bikes and I tell her that we are already late so “Not this time.” How much later will we be if we took them? Two minutes?  Is it worth it? 

Are we pro cycling and anti bike?


4 Responses to Is the U.S. anti bike?

  1. Ed says:

    Do you think biking is a popular European sport because Europeans have always biked, or do they bike because it’s a wildly popular sport?

    I think the centuries-old European tradition of biking around led to the sport…that seems obvious. America is in love with cars, and bikes aren’t likely to supplant that anytime soon. In addition, the layout of American towns and cities, in terms of work-place and homes, is based on perceived convenience by car not bike. I think biking in America will remain a leisure activity for the duration of our lifetimes, or until gas becomes so expensive that the car industry tanks.

  2. pelotonjim says:

    Tryue. Look at the popularity of NASCAR in a car-loving culture

  3. Debby says:

    Chris and I rode the NYC Five Boro Tour on Sunday, and there is definitely a difficulty in being a cyclist, even in a city with so many of them. The bike train was cancelled with no explanation, so we arrived late to the start. The conductor on the train was hostile at having so many bikes in the aisles, etc, but there was no place to put them. Cyclists bonded together to fit them anywhere they could, and helped each other climb over the seats to get around.

    The ride was interrupted for parades and other events, causing bottlenecks at many intersections. The cars on the other sides of closed off highways honked at us for causing the traffic jams I’m sure they endured. Much of the ride we walked the bikes because of congestion and what seemed to be poor planning. Now, this is a once a year event, but if this is the kind of treatment cyclists get for something “special” I can only wonder what an ordinary day of commuting must be like. In my town, there are no bike racks or places to secure your bike, and the shop owners surely won’t want us to take our bikes inside.

    There must be a way to improve cycling’s reputation with the powers that be, so that those who want to ride, can.

  4. Ed says:

    In places like Nashville and some other cities (but sadly not in backward Birmingham where I live), there are bike lanes around town and the city is generally bike friendly, or at least they are making the effort. I think the car drivers will always be hostile toward anything that slows them down to any speed below the limit plus 10mph.

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