High Ridership and Support of Competition
I ran across this article in VeloNews: http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/...in-2015_310198
The quote that caught my eye was this comment by Christian Prudhomme, race director of the Tour De France:
The Netherlands is currently accepted by many, perhaps most, cycling advocates as the reigning bike capital of the world. If it isn't, then it is at least in the top three nations for enthusiastic use of bicycles.
This year 85 percent of French people watched at least one stage of the Tour De France. That number was surpassed by only one country; I imagine you’ve worked out that it was the Netherlands, who had almost 86 percent. In fact, 85.7 percent of Dutch people watched at least one stage of the Tour.
The combination of reasonably high levels of bike use and a high level of interest in competitive cycling jogged my memory. When I moved to Davis, CA in 1980, the then self-proclaimed bicycling capital of the world, we had a similar phenomena. Sure, bikes outnumbered cars on our roadways by a whopping margin. But there was also this little ride that was, and still is, put on every May called the Davis Double Century. Back then it was quasi-competitive, in that there was a mass start and the first person across the line was considered the "winner", although it was not a sanctioned race and was simply a ride on open roads. But consider this: the population of the city was 36,640. Approximately 2000 riders rode the DC, of which at least half were local. Also, there were at least another 500 local people volunteering to put the ride on. Thus at least 4% of the city population either rode this local double century or volunteered to help put the ride on, and it could have been more than 6% since these estimates were minimums.
The DC was more than just a cycling event. A common question to be asked around town all winter was, "Are you riding the DC this year?" Many riders rode the DC without having ridden a century first. It was just part of the culture.
Now, here's my question. Assuming there is some relationship between performance cycling and high levels of utilitarian cycling (granted, I haven't made much of a case), does one cause the other and, if so, which one comes first? Or, perhaps, both are necessary to have a vibrant cycling community that achieves high levels of bike use.