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Old 08-19-09, 01:06 AM   #1
chomish
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Why is biking not as popular in US as in other countries?

Living in NYC i always wondered why biking doesnt seem as poplular here in the US as in other cities outside the country.

I travel alot, and in some of the big cities ive been to outside the US, it seems as if everybody rides around in bikes, or scooters.

Some of these cities arent even half as crowded as NYC is, and everybody comes and goes on there bike.

Whats some of your opinions on this??
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Old 08-19-09, 02:10 AM   #2
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I've often speculated on that. I do notice that cycling is an everyday thing in Denmark and the Netherlands than the US, so I suspect that more people ride when there are fewer hills. It's certainly more popular in Albuquerque, than here, which is about 180 miles NW of Alb. On the other hand, UNM is located in Albuquerque, so there may be a college/young people of dubious prosperity thing going on.

Maybe other countries grew up with the idea of dense population, prompting more crowded cities and less populated farming areas. That would put people closer to jobs and shopping than the US. On similar lines, most of Europe has much better public transportation. This too, might be due to having more destinations per mile, so to speak.

In other words, I don't know, but it is an interesting subject.
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Old 08-19-09, 02:31 AM   #3
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Simple. North Americans are in love with the automobile.
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Old 08-19-09, 02:51 AM   #4
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What cities are you talking about? Every city/nation/culture has a different view of the bicycle.
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Old 08-19-09, 02:52 AM   #5
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Infrastructure is part of the problem here. Amsterdam is incredible, paths, lanes, and motorists that respect cyclists as well as cyclists that respect motorists. I've ridden in Paris,surprisingly I do not find it particularly bicycle friendly, however I believe the French countryside to be great, but I can not say so first hand. One additional factor is that even now the price of gas is still a fraction of what it is in Europe.
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Old 08-19-09, 03:05 AM   #6
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depends where you live in the U.S.
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Old 08-19-09, 04:09 AM   #7
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I live in LA and the average commute to and from work sometimes spans 30+ miles one way for many. Add in lazy people, hectic schedules, things to do and finish with every minute, and that the roads and the need to go places with dates and show off to the ladies, cars are favored around here =P
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Old 08-19-09, 04:19 AM   #8
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Simple. North Americans are in love with the automobile.
Yeah. Don't know so much about NYC but here in the midwest the cities have been designed around auto use. Everything is relatively spread out and connected by high speed, high traffic roads. Travel anyway but by automobile is so rare that the infrastructure isn't designed for it. Just crossing those roads anyway but in an automobile can be intimidating.
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Old 08-19-09, 04:29 AM   #9
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>>> Why is biking not as popular in US as in other countries?

Longer average distances to destinations. . .automobile-centric culture. . .insufficient infrastructure support. . .driver antagonism. . .legal ambivalence.
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Old 08-19-09, 04:30 AM   #10
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Difference in culture and choices made on a national level 50 years ago.

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Old 08-19-09, 05:31 AM   #11
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Cheap gas
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Old 08-19-09, 06:16 AM   #12
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Just out of curiosity asking as a European, is there or has there been any campaigns to get people on bikes in the U.S.A or individual states?

I know of campaigns in the UK & Spain to encourage people to ride bikes, in the UK you can even get a discounted bike if you use it to ride to work.

One thing for sure, the big global companys are not going to encourage folks to ride bikes, no mega money in that.


edit - Unashamedly copied this line from the bottom of one of "seagulplayer's" posts, "Working to dispel the common myth that all grown men that ride a bicycle are just drunks that can’t afford a moped…" maybe this is an attitude we don't see much in Europe?

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Old 08-19-09, 06:57 AM   #13
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Just out of curiosity asking as a European, is there or has there been any campaigns to get people on bikes in the U.S.A or individual states?

I know of campaigns in the UK & Spain to encourage people to ride bikes, in the UK you can even get a discounted bike if you use it to ride to work.

One thing for sure, the big global companys are not going to encourage folks to ride bikes, no mega money in that.


edit - Unashamedly copied this line from the bottom of one of "seagulplayer's" posts, "Working to dispel the common myth that all grown men that ride a bicycle are just drunks that can’t afford a moped…" maybe this is an attitude we don't see much in Europe?
What city am i talking about? I would say just about every civilized city out there, seems to be more on bikes than the U.S.
I think one of the reasons for this, as one of u said, is in the way the countries took shape.

Sometimes i feel as if there isnt any push in attempting to get more on bikes. And some of the laws passed at times, makes me feel as if they dont want u to ride your bike.

Another great example is also the scooter, which seems like in some countries, there are more roaming the streets than actual cars!!!!

Weird, but it seems as though the almighty oil companies mite have something to do with this as well!!

I think here in the U.S., 95% of people that own a bike, own them for exercising, and recreational use.
Now outside of the U.S., to many, its their main means of transportation. Its like their car.

Last edited by chomish; 08-19-09 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 08-19-09, 07:21 AM   #14
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I think here in the U.S., 95% of people that own a bike, own them for exercising, and recreational use.
Now outside of the U.S., to many, its their main means of transportation. Its like their car.
It's a bit general for me to talk about "Europe", as it has such different cultures in each country, but I'd guess you'll find a small percentage of people who's only transport is a bicycle, but I'd guess more who's only transport is a scooter or motorbike.
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Old 08-19-09, 07:46 AM   #15
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LOL. Didnt mean it in that way, and a bit stupid in just throwing out random numbers.

Just trying to point out the importance of the bicycle in some countries outside the U.S.
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Old 08-19-09, 08:47 AM   #16
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Two words: Urban Sprawl.
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Old 08-19-09, 09:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
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Living in NYC i always wondered why biking doesnt seem as poplular here in the US as in other cities outside the country.

I travel alot, and in some of the big cities ive been to outside the US, it seems as if everybody rides around in bikes, or scooters.

Some of these cities arent even half as crowded as NYC is, and everybody comes and goes on there bike.

Whats some of your opinions on this??
Your question is best answered not by opinions, but by city to city comparisons. Name the cities and go from there.
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Old 08-19-09, 09:33 AM   #18
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General Motors was allowed to kill public transit and the railroads. We have been "willingly" forced to become an automobile addicted culture by those who profit from same.

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Old 08-19-09, 10:18 AM   #19
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I agree with westcoast peddler and retro grouch. thanks to Henry Ford we americans love our autos. and since WW2 and the devleopment of 'surban communities' ie Levittown things are too spread out to run mutiple errands on bike.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:02 PM   #20
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Combination of reasons IMO, most mentioned already.

Urban sprawl
Cheap gas
The Model T
Lousy support infrastructure
Climate and terrain in many cities
General American dislike of exercise

BTW wahoonc I think that the culture and national decisions go back more than 50 years. Bikes in America have been considered kids toys by most since at least WW1.

From then until after WW2 there were few adult bikes even available to the consumer who might have wanted one. The Brits started exporting bikes to the U.S. after WW2 in quantity and then Schwinn introduced the Varsity. Schwinn's earlier atempts at adult bikes with derailleurs, including the early Paramounts, were all money losers from what I have read.

In Europe incomes averaged lower, cars and gas were more expensive and cities were more compact. The bike became the working peoples transport by default. That or public transportation.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:10 PM   #21
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A bicycle is a tool, as is the automobile. For most people a bicycle is only useful if they need to transport themselves somewhere within 3 mi. If you want people to use a bicycle high density living is the only way. Zoning laws in the US prevent high density living. Education and even police policy also discourage bicycles.

There are actually wussy-fied public schools in the US that forbid use of anything except the yellow school bus as transportation. There is a good target for bicycle activists.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:14 PM   #22
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I agree with westcoast peddler and retro grouch. thanks to Henry Ford we americans love our autos. and since WW2 and the devleopment of 'surban communities' ie Levittown things are too spread out to run mutiple errands on bike.
The earliest of these "Levittowns", including Levittown itself were built on the assumption that dad took the one family car to work and left mom and the kids at home to walk and/or bike to the store, etc. The earliest versions of these types of communities were actually quite bikeable. Subsequent development has largely killed such conveniences, however. For instance, I live in an older (pre-Levit) community on Long Island. The more recently built supermarkets and shopping centers are within a few miles of me and concentrated into one area, which would seemingly make biking or walking errands very easy. However the roads needed to access these places are now so car-packed and extremely hostile that its difficult and dangerous to access these places without a car, so as a result, no one bikes there and the local businesses have no motivation to set up bike parking, etc. This negative feedback process, initiated by cheap cars and gas, has exterminated the concept of utilitarian biking to all but the poorest.

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Old 08-19-09, 12:15 PM   #23
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After WWII there was a determined (and successful) effort in the United States to redefine personal transportation as primarily automobile transportation. Immense amounts of money were spent on developing the infrastructure to support this effort, and now many people literally cannot think of personal transportation in any other way.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:18 PM   #24
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Real estate development patterns in the US are determined by laws and bureaucrative imperatives not consumer preferences. Levittown was as much a product of NYC real estate and other policies as the evil auto industry. Please read the Power Broker by Carro.
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Old 08-19-09, 01:49 PM   #25
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Its America - you put away the toys when you get your drivers license.
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