Time for a Revolution!
King Karl's post from the other day got me thinking as I followed the comment thread;
7:02 PMposted at
I think that for commuting to be the next be thing, it will need a combination of things: 1) tax breaks/incentives for people to ride to work and/or employers to promote/support bike commuters 2) local communtities to support/promote the bike commuting - especially in smaller towns and the midwest and finally (and not necessarily my favorite but it has worked for hybrids) celebrities getting behind the movement.
To which I replied-
Tim Jackson- Masi Guy posted at 8:13 PM
Al- good points. However, the main thing we need more than anything else?
Ready? Million dollar answer to all the problems right here;
We need more/ better bike paths. No matter of incentives will bring people out of the cars just to do battle with other people still sitting in their cars. If they feel that they are in danger, they won't ride. Most cities have little to no infrastructure to support cycling as a form of transportation.'
look at Portland, arguably the most bike friendly city in the US and they still have major concerns due to bike-friendly infrastructure. Just go to BikePortland.Org and read some of the threads there. Best bike city in the US and they still recognize a need for better bike paths, etc. And that's in Portland. Go to any other city and it is exponentially worse.
IB Rich Kelly got the thought rolling here- we need to support the folks who advocate for the cycling community and we need to get involved locally to improve conditions for average commuters or it will never, ever hit that critical mass that we need to really make a long lasting impact and effect change.
This is great stuff for another post...
And here we are...
I know that our new contributor Phil Gomes will have lots of ideas about all of this and he chimed in on the comments already. Phil's been behind this kind of thing for some time now. I have some thoughts about all of this as well... of course, or I wouldn't be here right now.
Here in the US, as in many countries, there simply isn't the infrastructure in place to support average folks becoming commuters. It just doesn't exist consistently on a city, county, state, regional or national level. Some places do a fine job of working with the cycling community and provide safe routes and lanes/ paths for cyclists, but they are exceptions and not the norm at all. We have to work to support a dramatic shift in thinking about bicycle commuting not just for the consumers who will be riding the bikes, but also for the folks who control the money that can provide the needed infrastructure.
The future health of the cycling industry is very closely pinned to bicycle commuting becoming a viable means for people to get back and forth to home, work and school. The way we live is so different now though and people are living farther and farther away from where they work. We have to help these folks by either providing safe routes for them or by having public/ mass transportation set up that accommodates bicyclists with bike racks and lockers. Roads are congested with cars these days, in most places it seems, and few new cyclists feel comfortable jumping into traffic. Sure, those of us who have been riding for years might not have a problem with it and might even wonder why there is such a fuss about cars, but we are not the future consumers and the key holders of the industry's future- it's the folks who don't already ride or don't think of commuting by bicycle. We have to help create a better riding environment for them.
Every time gas prices jump, some folks within the industry jump up and down and proclaim that the promised boom is now here... and then that boom turns in to a short spike (if anything) and fades away. Sustainable growth in the bike industry is not dependent on gas prices alone. Until US gas prices hit $10.00 per gallon, people are not going to get out of their cars and put their lives at risk to ride a bike to work, the store or school. It is false hope to believe that gas alone can save us.
So, before we start proclaiming that product innovation or gas prices are going to bring the "boom" we all desperately want to see in this wonderful business, we need to donate time and/ or money to our favorite bicycle advocacy group/s- whether it happens to be IMBA, Bikes Belong, your local bike-friendly congressperson or the radicals at Critical Mass.
The future of our industry is in their hands; are you/ we giving them the tools they need to win the fight for us?
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser
Posted by Tim Jackson at 11:20 PM