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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    I think that was a great article, except that it misses the following obvious point: for cycling commuting to become more prevalent, more people have to live near work. Which means lots of people either moving house or changing jobs.
    Um, the article doesn't miss that point, the author says as much, "Most people in the U.S. today live a considerable distance from where they work, about 16 miles on average. Much to Katherine Kersten’s chagrin, we likely need to change that, but it won’t happen very fast." So therefore too narrow a focus on commuting specifically is the wrong goal.

    The author argues that the goal should be shifted from commuting in particular, which may be unfeasible for many, to utility cycling more generally. Even if work is too far to reach by bike, other trips, under say three or five miles, are perfectly feasible for many, even most, if safe, pleasant infrastructure exists for people to do it. He advocates creating a network within a neighborhood or town that will get people to school, bank, post office, shopping, eating, entertainment, etc., and connects to the next neighborhood, and the next. Then people might see the utility of using a bicycle, without having to make the leap to cycling 10+ miles to work. They might not get rid of their car, but this still has the benefit of getting cars off the street, reducing congestion, pollution, the need for parking, getting people to exercise, and so on. Getting people commute by bike is laudable, but too limited, and in many cases too difficult, a goal. Rather, make cycling safe, convenient, and useful for most people, and more people will cycle.

    At the risk of going on a New York centric tangent, last year, New York City introduced bike share, after having installed hundreds of miles of bike lanes. Bike share is limited to rides under 30 or 45 minutes (depending on rental plan), after which there are additional escalating charges. When they announced it, there was big hue and cry, "OMG, a four hour bike rental will cost $77! What can you do with just half an hour?" It turns out, quite a lot. You pick up a bike at one station, ride a mile or two, drop it off at another station, do what you went there to do, then pick up another bike if you need to, and go on your merry way. Bike share use peaked at over 44,000 rides a day, and there are almost 100,000 annual members. Bike share created thousands of cyclists simply by making cycling easy. It eliminated the need even to own a bike in order to ride a bike get around town. Bike share may or may not be useful to you for commuting, depending on where your workplace is, but it can be used for lots of other things, and whatever the destination, getting people to get there by bike is a good thing.

  2. #27
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    China?
    Yes, China.

    No, China does not do everything right. In fact I am probably the most ardent China basher; but, every once in a while even a blind squirrel finds a nut.
    As a nation we still continue to enjoy a literally unprecedented prosperity; and it is probable that only reckless speculation and disregard of legitimate business methods on the part of the business world can materially mar this prosperity. – Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message, December 3, 1906

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilfried View Post
    At the risk of going on a New York centric tangent, last year, New York City introduced bike share, after having installed hundreds of miles of bike lanes. Bike share is limited to rides under 30 or 45 minutes (depending on rental plan), after which there are additional escalating charges. When they announced it, there was big hue and cry, "OMG, a four hour bike rental will cost $77! What can you do with just half an hour?" It turns out, quite a lot. You pick up a bike at one station, ride a mile or two, drop it off at another station, do what you went there to do, then pick up another bike if you need to, and go on your merry way. Bike share use peaked at over 44,000 rides a day, and there are almost 100,000 annual members. Bike share created thousands of cyclists simply by making cycling easy. It eliminated the need even to own a bike in order to ride a bike get around town. Bike share may or may not be useful to you for commuting, depending on where your workplace is, but it can be used for lots of other things, and whatever the destination, getting people to get there by bike is a good thing.
    San Francisco recently launched a similar bike share, well, technically the "bay area bike share" but I have only used it in SF. I think the same 30 minute criticism came up in SF from many I talked to (including myself), but the reality is for simple transportation this is just fine, ASSUMING that there is a station close to both ends of your destination. That last part is the clincher - the SF network for bike share is pretty limited to a couple neighborhoods, greatly limiting where I can actually go. If they do start expanding to more parts of the city, they may well need to increase the 30 minute limit a bit to allow going between some areas. That said, even with the limited network its useful to me to run errands from work or go go meet friends for lunch or after work, or as part of a multi-modal commute on days I don't bike my full 17 mile ride (bus to a bikeshare bike).

  4. #29
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    I find it interesting that I fall in a category that this author is probably saying we shouldn't focus on getting to commute to work.

    My commute by bike is about 17 miles. Although I owned a roadbike and mountain bike, and even on pair of lycra shorts and a couple of jerseys, I was not a regular rider by any means. When I first got my road bike it got a lot of use, but then honestly it has sat and collected dust for a couple years before I started commuting.

    My wife long tried to convince me to bike to work, starting when we were dating and I actually had only a few mile ride. I always made excuses, particularly around secure bike storage and showering. My most recent job solved those two issues, but gave me a long commute. I decided to rise to the challenge. I was not in great shape when I started. There was a fair amount of gear I needed to make it safe and comfortable (admittedly some of that gear was stuff I wanted more then needed). What happened is I fell in love with it, and became mildly obsessed with gear, bikes, etc.

    One big factor is in a big city like San Francisco, driving, even from a nearby suburb, may not be very practical or cost effective due to traffic, potential tools, and high priced parking. For this reason, driving is not a economical option for me and many who work in such cities. Maybe MN is more sprawled out so parking is not such an issue. The alternative to me and many others around major metro areas is transit. Transit is fine, but unfortunately for me it is slow, so its the same time or sometimes longer then riding my bike. In situations like this, promoting commuting by bike seems like a great goal.

    For me this is in many ways more practical then running to the grocery store, as I don't feel safe locking my nice bike up outside the store. For this I am thinking of getting a less expensive bike for more local trips, but it may be a while till I have the spare funds for that.

  5. #30
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    I don't feel safe locking my nice bike up outside the store. For this I am thinking of getting a less expensive bike for more local trips, but it may be a while till I have the spare funds for that.
    This is why they invented the term "beater". Buy a used MTB off CL for $100 and it will last you forever.

  6. #31
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    This is why they invented the term "beater". Buy a used MTB off CL for $100 and it will last you forever.
    this.
    I'd say 90% of the people on here have a beater bike worth a couple hundred bucks that they feel safe locking to a tree and leaving unattended.

    Plus, sometimes your employer will be cool with you. Theft isn't a problem in my area, but I'm still allowed to roll my bike indoors and leave it in a safe place.

  7. #32
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert C View Post
    Yes, China.

    No, China does not do everything right. In fact I am probably the most ardent China basher; but, every once in a while even a blind squirrel finds a nut.
    I've gone back and forth on China bashing, and lately see the recent swing away from bicycling as transport to be a serious flaw in the "new" China.
    Freedom is free. It's included in democracy. Democracy is hard. It involves dealing rationally with people you disagree with.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    This is why they invented the term "beater". Buy a used MTB off CL for $100 and it will last you forever.
    I actually have a beater, which I do feel safe locking up or even leaving unlocked - my wife got it for me at a garage sale for $25. Unfortunately it doesn't fit me well so I don't like riding it. It also needs a lot of work but I am hesitant to put time and money into a bike that doesn't fit and I don't like to ride.

    I have looked on craigslist, but near me its hard to find anything usable for $100, and if I am spending a few hundred I could almost get a new bike on an end of season special. This is why I want to spend a little bit more for a OK used bike or new bike for this, or possibly replace my old mountain bike and repurpose that one, putting on slicks and a rack.

    One other consideration - not everyone has room for multiple bikes. I am getting to the point that getting a new bike will mean getting rid of a bike.

  9. #34
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    The author apparently lives in Shoreview which if you were familiar with it, you couldn't really argue with him, - as long he's talking about what places like Shoreview should focus on and not cities like Minneapolis, Portland, NYC. Chicago, etc.

    I lived there from 1987 until 1998. It wasn't even incorporated as a city until the 1950's or so and of course given that history it was entirely laid out with the assumption that people would be using cars to get around. When I first moved there it had most of the characteristics that people who bash suburbs like complain about. There were virtually no trails or sidewalks. There was no reason to go there other than a place to sleep. It had no real identity of its own. People didn't interact with each other much. The kids went to high school in another suburb. There are a couple large employers in the area but most people worked some place else. In fact that was the big reason we left and moved to Minneapolis. We spent virtually no time THERE and a significant amount of time driving other places.

    That's not to say it was a bad town. It had some nice natural amenities and soon after I moved in they started building a network of trails and opened a community center. A newer subdivision even put in sidewalks.
    I'm sure they've made lots of progress since I moved away but I think it makes much more sense to talk about bike commuting where people live close to where they work.

    Now, if they ever ran a light rail line out that way, then multi-modal commuting might make some sense. I would argue (though it might be less true today) that even using a bike for transportation for small trips in a place like that is still somewhat challenging since schools are often off major highways and not necessarily close to students. Same with stores. There's not that many restaurants and I don't think it has a single movie theater.

    That said, I have fond memories of riding my bike to a bagel shop there on warm Sunday mornings. I even did some bike commuting when I worked in the very North tip of Minneapolis (not downtown). And I think it's fair to say that Minneapolis wouldn't have near the number of bike commuters as it has today if it weren't for it's infrastructure, - which started out as recreational trails.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    San Francisco recently launched a similar bike share, well, technically the "bay area bike share" but I have only used it in SF. I think the same 30 minute criticism came up in SF from many I talked to (including myself), but the reality is for simple transportation this is just fine, ASSUMING that there is a station close to both ends of your destination. That last part is the clincher - the SF network for bike share is pretty limited to a couple neighborhoods, greatly limiting where I can actually go. If they do start expanding to more parts of the city, they may well need to increase the 30 minute limit a bit to allow going between some areas. That said, even with the limited network its useful to me to run errands from work or go go meet friends for lunch or after work, or as part of a multi-modal commute on days I don't bike my full 17 mile ride (bus to a bikeshare bike).
    This is one thing New York got right. The bike share foot print covers a fraction of the city, but is quite large, and includes the densest and most traveled parts of the city. Within that footprint, bike stations are everywhere, every few blocks, so you you're never more than few minutes walk from a station. 45 minutes will take you across most of the footprint, so it's more than enough for almost any utility rides.

    It's about network effects. You build a transportation system with enough nodes and interconnections, and its useful to lots of people for lots of things, and they will come. Roads and highways did it for cars; I think the author is arguing for the same thing, except on bicycle scale. A commuter plan might draw a line to, say, downtown, which might be far away, useful to a limited subset of people, and might not drive much bike use. Create a short distance web connecting lots of points, and lots of people might find it useful, and actually get on a bike. I brought up bike share because that's essentially what it did, and the local example I've actually observed. It clearly released a lot of pent up demand, and I'll bet a lot of it's demand from folks who had no idea they had any interest in riding a bike, until someone presented them with the opportunity and a reason to do it.

    Of course, what's feasible in any location depends a lot local circumstances, but I think I agree with his principle. Think beyond outside the narrow box of "commuting," and think more broadly of bicycling as transportation.

  11. #36
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilfried View Post
    This is one thing New York got right. The bike share foot print covers a fraction of the city, but is quite large, and includes the densest and most traveled parts of the city. Within that footprint, bike stations are everywhere, every few blocks, so you you're never more than few minutes walk from a station. 45 minutes will take you across most of the footprint, so it's more than enough for almost any utility rides.

    It's about network effects. You build a transportation system with enough nodes and interconnections, and its useful to lots of people for lots of things, and they will come. Roads and highways did it for cars; I think the author is arguing for the same thing, except on bicycle scale. A commuter plan might draw a line to, say, downtown, which might be far away, useful to a limited subset of people, and might not drive much bike use. Create a short distance web connecting lots of points, and lots of people might find it useful, and actually get on a bike. I brought up bike share because that's essentially what it did, and the local example I've actually observed. It clearly released a lot of pent up demand, and I'll bet a lot of it's demand from folks who had no idea they had any interest in riding a bike, until someone presented them with the opportunity and a reason to do it.

    Of course, what's feasible in any location depends a lot local circumstances, but I think I agree with his principle. Think beyond outside the narrow box of "commuting," and think more broadly of bicycling as transportation.
    I think the difference between New York and a place like Shoreview is that in New York you have lots of people and lots of destinations in a relatively small area. Though I think it's improved, the big problem in a suburb like Shoreview is zoning. Housing is in certain areas, retail and commercial are someplace else.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  12. #37
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    the problem with bike commuting is that its slow, it requires effort and its hard to do while talking on your phone and drinking your coffee while pinching the steering wheel between your thighs because both your hands are busy
    plus mickey dees does not have a bike drive up lane

  13. #38
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    One other consideration - not everyone has room for multiple bikes. I am getting to the point that getting a new bike will mean getting rid of a bike.
    Get rid of the bike that doesn't fit.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by niuoka View Post
    the problem with bike commuting is that its slow, it requires effort and its hard to do while talking on your phone and drinking your coffee while pinching the steering wheel between your thighs because both your hands are busy
    plus mickey dees does not have a bike drive up lane
    Made me smile. And cry.

    I sort of agree with the author, but in my experience, shopping (at least for groceries) is one of the hardest things to do. Your load is unpredictable in size (and almost always larger than my commuting load). You have to travel on routes you are unfamiliar with. For many, I would bet those two items would make commuting easier. You figure out a good route, and you do the same thing repeatedly with a small load. I really don't have statistics to back me up, but I wonder if the part of going somewhere unfamiliar (and the associated risk of ending up on a "bad" road) may actually be more off-putting.

  15. #40
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
    in my experience, shopping (at least for groceries) is one of the hardest things to do. Your load is unpredictable in size (and almost always larger than my commuting load). You have to travel on routes you are unfamiliar with.
    Don't most people do routine shopping at the same places? Same grocery? Same liquor? Same hardware? Seems the route should be able to be very familiar. The load is more of an issue, people in Europe have bikes designed to carry a lot more stuff or even cargo bikes. They also tend to shop more often to get fresher foods than U.S. folk and so have buy less each time.

  16. #41
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilfried View Post
    New York City introduced bike share, after having installed hundreds of miles of bike lanes. Bike share is limited to rides under 30 or 45 minutes (depending on rental plan), after which there are additional escalating charges. When they announced it, there was big hue and cry, "OMG, a four hour bike rental will cost $77! What can you do with just half an hour?" It turns out, quite a lot.
    +1 Does this indicate that shorter trips are more useful/desirable?

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    Don't most people do routine shopping at the same places?
    Yes, but it isn't as often as work. I personally don't have this problem, but I know a handful of people that always seem to get lost going to places that they don't visit routinely, like the hardware store. Shoot, my sister-in-law got lost 5 blocks from her apartment by going the wrong way after getting dropped off by a bus. Most people I know who don't bike for everything have a real fear of getting on the "wrong type" (ie busy) of roads. These two pieces combined could make it difficult/discouraging for some. Maybe I am over-thinking this...

  18. #43
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    World Domination is probably a better goal .. Dr Evil ..

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    +1 Does this indicate that shorter trips are more useful/desirable?
    It means that the system is designed for transportation from point A to point B, rather that for an afternoon jaunt around the city, and for the sort of trips of a few miles or less that most people are will to do by bike, the same sort of short trips the author of the article says should be encouraged. These are also the sorts of trips where a bike will save time and effort. For longer trips, there's the subway (or bus, taxi, or, heaven forfend, car). And now that I think about it, Minneapolis has a bike share system.

    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    I think the difference between New York and a place like Shoreview is that in New York you have lots of people and lots of destinations in a relatively small area. Though I think it's improved, the big problem in a suburb like Shoreview is zoning. Housing is in certain areas, retail and commercial are someplace else.
    This may be entirely true. Policy decisions created the car-centric communities that predominate in so many places, and it will take policy changes to create more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods. Just based on my reading here and there, "mix use" development is a major buzz word these days in city planning circles in an effort to create denser, less car-dependent communities. As a step in that direction, streets can be designed to encourage utility cycling, and reduce car-dependency. At least as the author describes it, many people live within easy biking distance of a number of amenities, at least if the facilities exist to make it safe and comfortable.

    As an aside, I did a fair bit of biking when I was kid in suburban Long Island. I couldn't drive, so if I wanted to do something without being wholly dependent on my parents, I sometimes rode my bike. I also happened to live close enough to my junior high that I walked to school (they didn't run the school bus within a certain radius from school).
    Last edited by wilfried; 02-09-14 at 12:30 AM.

  20. #45
    Junior Member RKThunder's Avatar
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    Article Was Silly

    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    Was bored after the first couple paragraphs and stopped reading. Does the guy have a point, or is it just whining?
    I agree. I found the article silly and pointless. I personally am tired of my local bike advocacy group's emphasis on improving bicycling for the single yuppies that live downtown a few blocks or a mile or two from where they work. Major improvement is needed getting to work downtown or anywhere for the vast majority of us that live over 5 miles from work. And it isn't necessarily a choice of not living close to where I work. In this economy I have had to switch jobs four times in the last ten years. Does the author of the article bike commute? Where? How far? For me, liberty is the freedom to bike commute. And if no one else wants to, that's fine with me. Just don't make the roads dangerous for me.
    Last edited by RKThunder; 02-10-14 at 11:41 AM.

  21. #46
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    I currently ride to work, or ride for fitness, more so than I ride for utility. My work commute is 31 miles round trip by bike, but I rarely do any sort of errands by bike. The big issue there, I think, is the investment needed to be able to carry anything more than a few small items on a bike. Something like an Xtracycle or cargo bike, or even a proper cargo trailer, represents and is a lot of money to most people. So even though they might have a bike, they don't want to put in the additional expense it would take to carry more and/or larger items.

    I fit into that category. My son's bike trailer that I got for $75 used finally broke some of the seat support straps, so I will probably be looking into converting that into cargo use. But until then, it's not really possible for me to do many errands by bike unless I take a backpack, which I hate riding with.

    I'm hoping to get some kind of rack and trunk bag setup one of these days...
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  22. #47
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    I'd challenge anyone to haul my typical monthly purchase from Costco on their bike, even with a trailer. My car strains under the load, and it's 10 miles from home on congested suburban roads. The average urban apartment dweller, who's food bill consists mostly of carry out, could benefit from improved cycling infrastructure for errands. For me, it's not a priority at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    Get rid of the bike that doesn't fit.
    That seems like an obvious answer, but my wife will not let me get rid of the beater unless it is to replace it with a new "beater" as she is terrified about bike theft.

  24. #49
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    this is a transparent attempt to smear bike commuters as crazy "strong and fearless" folk who enjoy riding in dangerous bike lanes while scaring children, grandmas, and the interested but concerned.

    why is he doing this?

    because he wants cycletracks everywhere:

    These are the kind of trips that people in The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and elsewhere do. Countries with very high modal shares of bicycling don’t have lots of people riding 10 miles each way to work...
    .
    In most cases, safe, segregated paths are built as part of larger road reconstruction projects or as part of new roads. We need to push for EVERY one of these to be done appropriately....
    *sigh*
    Road rash is a precious gift. Road rash is your friend. Bask in it, appreciate it, love it. Above all, learn from it. --Robert Hurst

  25. #50
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
    The big issue there, I think, is the investment needed to be able to carry anything more than a few small items on a bike. Something like an Xtracycle or cargo bike, or even a proper cargo trailer, represents and is a lot of money to most people. So even though they might have a bike, they don't want to put in the additional expense it would take to carry more and/or larger items.
    The savings from not driving could be enough to pay for a nice cargo bike or a city bike with racks and then have enough left over for a nice dinner each month or save up for a new fishing boat.

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