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  1. #1
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Are bicycles finally gaining broad acceptance?

    As a car free person, and as a person who likes bikes for their own sake, I tend to pay attention to the numbers of other bicyclists that I see. Lately, I've noticed a very significant increase in the number of bicycles I see around town. On rides where I was the only cyclist in sight a year ago, I now see a dozen or more other riders. A couple of my coworkers now commute by bike on a daily basis, which never happened before. More significantly, bike racks that used to be totally empty are now totally full; on a few occasions, I've even had trouble fiinding a decent spot to lock up my bike. In particular, I see a lot more fixies, which surprises me, since there are a lot of BIG hills around here.. My impression is that there has been a sudden surge of bicycle use in my town. Is this merely a result of a fevered imagination? Is it unique to Seattle, perhaps a result of cultural diffusion from Portland not too far to the south? What's happening where you live?
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  2. #2
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    First response, off-topic. I'm sorry

    W00t! You gotta get me some hard evidence of this to convince my Mom to let me sell my car when I move up to Seattle!

    Anyway, as for Orange County, I haven't really seen any significant increase in bike riders, but I do see a little more of the utilitarian Wal-Mart junker riders on the sidewalks.

  3. #3
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    The number of cyclists seen on the roads strikes me as similar to a couple of years ago. General population growth could contribute to a rise in the number of cyclists in terms of raw numbers.

    It definitely takes a bit more $$$$$ to immerse yourself in cycling these days. A kid working at a grocery would only be able to afford a mid-level ride these days, unless he or she gets financial help from parents. Years ago, I was able to purchase a top-of-the-line bike entirely from money earned in jobs as a teenager. Many people seen riding don't seem to be doing it as a sole source of transportation but instead as a form of fitness and/or a sport they love. Gasoline would need to be in the double-digits for people to stop driving to business appointments, medical treatments, groceries, home construction projects, etc., etc.
    Last edited by Blue Jays; 03-22-07 at 01:00 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I don't see that much of an increase in the mid west at least. I say it will take at least 5 dollars a gallon to turn around bike acceptance in the US.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jays
    It definitely takes a bit more $$$$$ to immerse yourself in the sport these days. A kid working at a grocery would only be able to afford a mid-level ride these days, unless he or she gets financial help from parents. Years ago, I was able to purchase a top-of-the-line bike entirely from money earned in jobs as a teenager.
    no offense but that attitude is what keeps more people from riding, there's lots of kids here in Brooklyn who ride any kind of old bike, swap bikes, fix bikes, rebuild bikes, weld them together to make them super high, and generally bike all over for little to no money

    I think all the emphasis on biking as a "sport" is very unhealthy for bike culture in general, nothing against those who want to pursue it as a sport, but to most people it seems like it's only a sport, as opposed to casual recreation/leisure, transportation alternative, etc...

  6. #6
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    Hi ekitel-

    I'm not offended at all. I agree with you. Pressures today demand that people need to be more creative if they want to ride something they like. In my youth I never had to weld my own bicycle...I worked long hard hours in restaurants, retail stores, and the cinema and I was able to purchase a sweet Italian racing bike on my own. That scenario is unlikely to happen these days and people need to seek other paths if they wish to REALLY ride.

    ~ Blue Jays ~

  7. #7
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I was able to purchase a top-of-the-line bike entirely from money earned in jobs as a teenager.
    Top of the line bikes have gotten better. At least from a racer's perspective. Ultra-expensive bikes offer little in terms of transportation usefulness that you don't get from a $200 bike with some cheap accessories added.

    It's still possible in most of the USA to buy a bike that will be great for transportation purposes for no more than $100 -- sometimes, in some locations, it's only $5.

    In Montreal when i was there, there always seemed to be good-quality old road bikes going for $20 CAD.
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  8. #8
    Dare to be weird!
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    Around here the occasional cyclists come out in force in the Spring. Having said that, I think there's also been a consistent year over year increasing trend for cycling in my part of Austin. There are a handful of people I see out quite often in my neighborhood.
    Last edited by Platy; 03-22-07 at 07:03 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    The amount of technology / performance you can get for the dollar is much better than a generation ago.

    I got my Motobecane Grand Touring in 1978 as a teenager for $260. Ten speeds, downtube shifters. Rat-trap pedals.

    That $260 has inflated to $811.50 in 2007 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I think you can get a better ride for $811.50 today than my Motobecane.

    Now, you are pointing to another issue, which is that the real earning power of non-college graduates has slipped behind the rate of inflation. That is true.

    But don't blame the bike market for that. We get better bikes for the money than ever before.



    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jays
    It definitely takes a bit more $$$$$ to immerse yourself in cycling these days. A kid working at a grocery would only be able to afford a mid-level ride these days, unless he or she gets financial help from parents. Years ago, I was able to purchase a top-of-the-line bike entirely from money earned in jobs as a teenager.
    Peter Wang, LCI
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  10. #10
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    The amount of technology / performance you can get for the dollar is much better than a generation ago.

    I got my Motobecane Grand Touring in 1978 as a teenager for $260. Ten speeds, downtube shifters. Rat-trap pedals.

    That $260 has inflated to $811.50 in 2007 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I think you can get a better ride for $811.50 today than my Motobecane.

    Now, you are pointing to another issue, which is that the real earning power of non-college graduates has slipped behind the rate of inflation. That is true.

    But don't blame the bike market for that. We get better bikes for the money than ever before.
    Hear Hear

    I hear/read people moaning about the lack of a "suitable" commuter, why they want one like the old Raleigh their dad/grandpa had...when you suggest something like a Breezer they moan and groan about how expensive they are. Guess what adjusted for inflation they are about the same price as the Raleighs were in their time. And I think the Breezer is in some ways is a better bike.

    I also agree that lower end wages have not kept up, and some middle wages too. For an example, my wife is in the airline industry, with the last round of wage concessions and bankruptcies she has been pushed back almost 12 years in constant dollars in terms of pay. And the airline industry is not the only one to have done it either. Most of your service industry jobs pay on the low end of the scale and they have not kept up with inflation either.

    Aaron
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  11. #11
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Nice letter to the editor in the paper today:

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepu...urlets221.html

    Al

  12. #12
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    I'd hesitate to use the word "broad" to describe what's happening here. But the commuter numbers have significantly increased (even the year-rounders) here. It seems every time I'm at a party, I'm talking to someone who's started commuting year round.

    Broad acceptance is still decades away however.
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  13. #13
    1. e4 Nf6 Alekhine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerewa
    Top of the line bikes have gotten better. At least from a racer's perspective. Ultra-expensive bikes offer little in terms of transportation usefulness that you don't get from a $200 bike with some cheap accessories added.
    To some extent. It really depends on what you want out of your bike, and there are ultra-expensive bikes that have nothing to do with racing, of course. My $3500 Mercian tourer - which isn't a racing bike at all but purposely a heavyweight tank built with 531 ST heavy gauge steel - functions as a "high-performance" (in its way) commuting/touring/shopping machine that fits me beautifully and needs minimal maintenance due to its design, and I'm quite sure that I got lots of bang for my buck out of almost every buck spent on it, including the $1000 Rohloff hub, the full benefits of which cannot be found for less (except used on eBay).

    You don't need to spend that much at all to get a great bike that does more or less the same things, but it's not all just about racing, as far as ultra-expensive usefulness is concerned. I have Phil Wood, Chris King, and Paul components on my bike (as well as others), and the reliability factor of all the sealed-bearing stuff is wonderful.

    I admittedly got bling-happy with a few bits of componentry on my bike though, most notably the Brooks B17 Champion Special with Ti rails, which I bought solely for aesthetic reasons because it was the only B17 they offer in antique brown.



    For those looking for great tourers, ultralight bikes, racers, etcetera at a great price, go used! Steel frames from almost any era can be wonderful machines and can be built quite light.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Comparing my '69 Schwinn Varsity to my '06 Trek, there's lightyears of difference between the two. The notorious stem mounted shifters on my Schwinn (originally I bought for $97, and that's roughly $500 today) needed constant tightening or they would shift on their own, and usually not the gear you were planning for. I must have bought a large share of stocks in some shifting cable company somewhere, since it seemed thay I was always replacing broken shift cables as well. My '06 has been very low maintenance in comparison to the Schwinn, just basic chain cleaning , brake adjustments , one freewheel and couple of tire replacements have been all thats needed. I have put a lot of miles on the Schwinn in the time I owned it , but I have put far more miles on the Trek in the same time period due to ease of riding, lower maintenance, and better availabilty for upgraded/spare parts. Another plus for today's rider is the internet bike maintenance forums, product comparisons, and online cycling stores, which is far better than the old trial and error/ live with what you have/buying only what your LBS has to offer method.
    Last edited by dynodonn; 03-22-07 at 12:09 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Snow_canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Nice letter to the editor in the paper today:

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepu...urlets221.html

    Al

    ROFL, right off that page is this link.

  16. #16
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Hear Hear

    I hear/read people moaning about the lack of a "suitable" commuter, why they want one like the old Raleigh their dad/grandpa had...when you suggest something like a Breezer they moan and groan about how expensive they are. Guess what adjusted for inflation they are about the same price as the Raleighs were in their time. And I think the Breezer is in some ways is a better bike.

    I also agree that lower end wages have not kept up, and some middle wages too. For an example, my wife is in the airline industry, with the last round of wage concessions and bankruptcies she has been pushed back almost 12 years in constant dollars in terms of pay. And the airline industry is not the only one to have done it either. Most of your service industry jobs pay on the low end of the scale and they have not kept up with inflation either.

    Aaron
    I agree with you, wahoonc. My oldest presently owned bike is my old Raleigh made Phillips. The newer commuter type bikes are similar in most ways (excluding technological improvements) except for the price. Even with the awareness of inflation, still people give me that blank, vacant stare of disbelief when I tell them the price of my newer bikes at today's prices. I also think that the take home paycheck of the middle income (the poor and lower working class are already there on bikes) will push more people onto a bike of some sort. Add the price of gas/petrol and the Tipping Point will occur sooner rather than later.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 03-22-07 at 01:21 PM.

  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snow_canuck
    ROFL, right off that page is this link.
    Should papers not accept advertising from cars dealers if they publish letters about the benefits of bus and bike?

    Its a random ad that is not there when I look, I saw real estate, cell phone ads.

    Al

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jays
    Hi ekitel-
    That scenario is unlikely to happen these days and people need to seek other paths if they wish to REALLY ride.

    ~ Blue Jays ~
    implying that in order to REALLY ride you need a high performance racing bike and try to go as fast as you can? what you're saying is it's more expensive to get into serious sport riding, and what I was saying that people often don't realize there are other alternatives to have fun, live car free, and REALLY ride without spending big bucks
    Last edited by ekitel; 03-22-07 at 03:49 PM.

  19. #19
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    Wow, I didn't realize that inflation went up that much

    Anyway, yeah, I agree with wahoonc about the Breezers. They are very nice bikes considering what is STOCK on the models: rear rack, fenders, internal gear hubs, a wheel dynamo powered headlight instead of a battery powered one? Man, those are very expensive items if you got them all individually and combined them for a bike! I wonder why people moan and groan about how expensive they are if those people want something like the old Raleigh 3-speeds? Those things weren't sold at department stores, were they?

    folder fanatic, I think the main reason people are surprised by the cost of "real" LBS bicycles is because you can get something from Wal-Mart for about $100.

  20. #20
    Senior Member EnigManiac's Avatar
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    As a guy who always enjoyed cycling and rode every so often before selling my car to a recycler and embracing the car-free lifestyle years ago, I pay attention to the number of cyclists I see as well. It's hard to determine in a city like Toronto where---at least in the downtown core where there has always been a vibrant cycling-positive culture---because there are 90,000 year-round cyclists and approximately 900,000 seasonal cyclists. Over the past two years, however, I have noticed an increase in cyclists. Part of it is due to the increasing cost of gas and the congested roads and the other reason (I believe) is because of the number of cyclists they see on the roads. I know over the past few years I have convinced at least three friends who either drove or used public transportation to take up biking and they are committed now to riding almost everywhere.

    The more of us that get out there on our bikes, the safer the roads become and the more people we encourage to try it too.
    The slow down is accelerating

  21. #21
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fat_bike_nut
    ....I think the main reason people are surprised by the cost of "real" LBS bicycles is because you can get something from Wal-Mart for about $100.
    It's funny how some people get sticker shock at bike prices at the LBS, and think nothing of paying 5 to 10 times that for a car. I know that not everyone can afford a $1500 bike, or if they could, would want to pay that much for a bike, but by car standards that is a bargain especially if it is ridden daily.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnigManiac
    The more of us that get out there on our bikes, the safer the roads become and the more people we encourage to try it too.
    Exactly! More bicycle riders out on the roads makes it look more accessible and safer to people wanting to give it a try but are too afraid to! It's not intimidating when you're not the only one doing it

  23. #23
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jays
    Hi ekitel-

    I'm not offended at all. I agree with you. Pressures today demand that people need to be more creative if they want to ride something they like. In my youth I never had to weld my own bicycle...I worked long hard hours in restaurants, retail stores, and the cinema and I was able to purchase a sweet Italian racing bike on my own. That scenario is unlikely to happen these days and people need to seek other paths if they wish to REALLY ride.

    ~ Blue Jays ~

    Really ride? I've been commuting to work for 15 years on second hand steel bike bought for $200 each. Am I not a real rider? If I crash on ice do I not bleed?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn
    It's funny how some people get sticker shock at bike prices at the LBS, and think nothing of paying 5 to 10 times that for a car. I know that not everyone can afford a $1500 bike, or if they could, would want to pay that much for a bike, but by car standards that is a bargain especially if it is ridden daily.
    Well, the problem is, people want to keep their cars too. And if you can afford a car, you can afford some of the most expensive bikes too, unless you are already paying for a car. Plus, bicycles are viewed as either toys or a sport. Recreational vehicles are not used everyday. Not a utility vehicle. Nope. When people generally think of utility vehicles, we (colloquially speaking) think of something along the lines of a truck, or SUV, or station wagon, you know?

  25. #25
    Senior Member Snow_canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Should papers not accept advertising from cars dealers if they publish letters about the benefits of bus and bike?

    Its a random ad that is not there when I look, I saw real estate, cell phone ads.

    Al
    It was more about the irony of it all.

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