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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    What's needed to promote bike use?

    I was reading an article today about how some cycling advocates are asking for money to improve cycling infrastructure. The bike lanes and multi-use paths are good, but are they what's needed in your community?

    Where I'm living, the biggest need is for education and promotion of cycling. (One of the bike shops in the area is already starting to work with this.) Next to that, but in a distant second place, would be proper bike parking and beyond that, I can think of just a few roads where bike lanes or adjacent bike paths are needed.
    Life is good.

  2. #2
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    Better integration of bikes and transit. Here there are bike racks on the buses with two spots, however if they are full, and the bus is half-empty, the drivers will still not allow you to bring your bicycle on board. The bus only runs four times a day from the ferry terminal to the nearest town a distance of around 20 km. Because of the distance and that it travels on a 80 kph highway with minimal stops, the bus beats cycling time wise, which can mean getting home an hour earlier when the ferries only run once per hour.

    I think more people would leave their car at home and bike if they knew they didn't have to bike two directions especially with shorter days and one of them in the dark.

  3. #3
    Grillparzer Grillparzer's Avatar
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    Education, bicycle advocacy, and developing infrastructure are essential, but I think more emphasis needs to be placed on changing our state laws, city ordinances, judicial system to make them more compatible with our growing bicycling culture. To give one example, I put two more tail lights on my commuter this afternoon. With three tail lights, a Magicshine headlight, and a reflective vest, I'm going to look like a two foot wide Boeing 747 riding down the road when I go to work tonight. However, if I'm hit by a car and killed or injured the excuse of "I didn't see him" will be considered sufficient despite my precautions. The recourses I or my family would have under these circumstances are limited under both criminal and civil law. I know there are a number of organizations lobbying for changes but they lack both popular support, even among bicyclists, and they have failed to develop a comprehensive legislative package that can be supported nationally. Getting "Idaho stops" legislation passed in one city and a "Three foot clearance" law passed some place else are steps forward, but baby steps and piecemeal ones at that.
    People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    People are so irrational that even if it makes perfect logical sense to ride a bike instead of driving a car, they won't do it. Here's the answer though: the "fixie" craze. There's no logical reason for so many people to be riding brakeless fixed gear bikes but apparently it's "cool". I still don't understand how the hipsters got so into fixed gear bikes, after all, most of them are weak, scrawny, smokers that drink too much cheap beer. You'd think they would pass out after a block or two. Or they'd find that cycling in tight pants with a heavy bag over one shoulder and a U-lock in the back pocket jabbing them in the rear sucks. But they never figure that out. So all you need to do is convince people that riding a bike for transportation is the cool thing to do. You can build infrastructure till the cows come home on two wheels and still people will get in their cars and circle around looking for parking.

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    So all you need to do is convince people that riding a bike for transportation is the cool thing to do. You can build infrastructure till the cows come home on two wheels and still people will get in their cars and circle around looking for parking.
    That's exactly why I say education and any special events are needed. When people see others are also getting on their bikes, it may catch on. And when they see it's not a huge hardship to travel by bike, it may be a mild incentive.
    Life is good.

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    I'd add effective enforcement against bike theft to the items already mentioned. Most of the people I ride with never use their bikes for transportation and I think that fear of theft is a contributing factor. The general perception is that the police place a very low priority on bike theft making it a profitable business with low risk. Some sting operations with bait bikes and going after the flea markets and other venues where stolen bikes are sold could put a major dent in the theft rate and make it more attractive to bike to stores, theaters, and other businesses.

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    In my area, we already have a lot of people who have started riding in the last 2 to 4 years. Most of these fall into three categories: utility riders, fixsters, and "serious" commuters. I think what would most benefit all three groups would be good bikeways and even bike lanes. I'm not a big fan of these facilities myself, but I think most new cyclists here would like them and increase their riding if they had them.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  8. #8
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Money talks. What's needed to promote bike use is:
    -Stop using wars to maintain cheap oil prices.
    -Tax gasoline burners for the cleanup of the mess they leave behind.
    -Tax large vehicle users for their fair share of road maintenance.
    -Stop encouraging consumerism and excess spending with expansionary monetary policies.

    Enable people to live recklessly beyond their means (socially, environmentally, physically, and economically) and that's what they'll do. Force people to do for themselves and they will use the resources have, in particular their bodies to cycle with.
    Last edited by chucky; 10-22-10 at 04:23 PM.

  9. #9
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    There's a chicken-and-egg phenomenon happening here. You would have more cyclists if you had better infrastructure. You'd have better infrastructure if you had more cyclists demanding it.

    This is probably a case for some wise old and well-connected bicycle advocates to start prodding City Hall officials. "Wake up, guys... the tide is in.""

  10. #10
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    Money talks. What's needed to promote bike use is:
    -Stop using wars to maintain cheap oil prices.
    -Tax gasoline burners for the cleanup of the mess they leave behind.
    -Tax large vehicle users for their fair share of road maintenance.
    -Stop encouraging consumerism and excess spending with expansionary monetary policies.

    Enable people to live recklessly beyond their means (socially, environmentally, physically, and economically) and that's what they'll do. Force people to do for themselves and they will use the resources have, in particular their bodies to cycle with.
    well, you have certainly taken it to the fundamental level. If people had to pay the true cost of their transportaton, I'm sure cars would be much more expensive and bikes would be much cheaper. And that would certainly do much to increase bicycle ridership everywhere.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  11. #11
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Ok here's a friendlier one:
    bike fit

    I think most people have never ridden a properly fitted bike. As a result they don't think a bike is much more than a wheelchair that needs to be balanced.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    One of the events I'd like to see once or twice a year would be a bike fit clinic and a bike safety check, held in conjunction with a bike to work day. Any bike shop doing this would get a lot of business to its doors later.
    Life is good.

  13. #13
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Done our share . . . been promoting bicycle use since the early 1970s . . . and pedaled 300,000+ miles.
    Now it's your turn.

  14. #14
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    We also need to stop sugar coating what it takes to cycle. We need to tell people about the time it takes to get used to a saddle, and stop pretending it isn’t a pain in the rear at first. Not always co-operate. Flat tires will happen and the weather might But explain that a new rider will get over it sooner or later it just takes time, unless they have a bent.

    Infrastructure, education, training and a dose of reality check will help far more than just about anything we have seen so far. To get anywhere we need to get the 96+ percent non cyclists on our side and we will never do that with an in your face advocacy type of program. IMHO.

    Yes somewhere to park and lock a bike would be nice at the local store. It would also be nice if they took bike thefts more seriously and tossed a few people in jail rather that just collect and sell recovered bike by the warehouse full.

    But till then we make converts one at a time and enjoy the activity with a few friends.

  15. #15
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    One of the events I'd like to see once or twice a year would be a bike fit clinic and a bike safety check, held in conjunction with a bike to work day. Any bike shop doing this would get a lot of business to its doors later.
    Problem is people wouldn't go to the bike fit clinic because they think "bikes are toys made to make walking more fun".

    I say a free public bike sharing program with instructions on making the bike fit. People like free stuff and they'll read the instructions if they need to in order to get the thing unlocked. Put emphasis on fit by having different sized frames even though it adds confusion and increases the chances someone has to ride the wrong size just to get people thinking "gee I wonder if I should try the other size."

    Once they try a bike that fits they will *get it*. As Sheldon Brown said,
    "Riding with the saddle too low is like walking with your knees bent (as Groucho Marx often did for comedic effect.) If you walked that way all the time, you'd also get used to that, but you'd think that half a mile was a long walk." That's exactly what most people think about cycling...that 5 miles is a long ride. They need to relearn how to ride a bike in order to understand what it's capable of.

  16. #16
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    I was reading an article today about how some cycling advocates are asking for money to improve cycling infrastructure. The bike lanes and multi-use paths are good, but are they what's needed in your community?

    Where I'm living, the biggest need is for education and promotion of cycling. (One of the bike shops in the area is already starting to work with this.) Next to that, but in a distant second place, would be proper bike parking and beyond that, I can think of just a few roads where bike lanes or adjacent bike paths are needed.
    I would not worry too much about attracting people to cycling. The most important thing I know about motivation is: people will do something that benefits them and is in their best interests or simply label cycling as being for "the other guy." Otherwise they: mouth platitudes about cycling (and don't participate themselves), ignore cyclists who do, or simply move on to something else entirely.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 10-22-10 at 07:40 PM.

  17. #17
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    That's exactly why I say education and any special events are needed. When people see others are also getting on their bikes, it may catch on. And when they see it's not a huge hardship to travel by bike, it may be a mild incentive.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head; bicycling will catch on when people see so-called "normal" people doing it in large numbers. This is pretty much what has happened here in Seattle in the last couple of years. However, I think it's important to remember that, barring a huge spike in fuel prices, bicycling will probably never become all that mainstream in North America. For many people, any level of physical exertion, no matter how moderate, is simply too much to tolerate on a daily basis. And there are social barriers in many cities that may be insurmountable. You can show up at even the nicest restaurant in Seattle dressed casually, in a bike helmet and panniers, and they will be happy to seat you. Some places will even offer to store your bike in the restaurant. I doubt that would happen in Dallas or Atlanta.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  18. #18
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    Someone to show curious people where the MUPs are located (the paths aren't always obvious), how to ride defensively on the streets, encourage folks on bikes off the sidewalks, and how to do basic maintenance (like filling the tires with air -- you'd think this was the easy part, but not for some people). An actual bike ambassador a noob can talk to about road routes, bike locking tips, and even occasional company heading onto unfamiliar routes.

    I would have loved this when I started out! A bike buddy who didn't look at me like I fell out of a tree when I had a question about filling the tire with air at the gas station. Or showed me how to get to the Don River Trail. As well as a little encouragement to ride a bit further and into unfamiliar neighborhoods.

    But no. I did this on my own. Ok, with encouragement from BF! But heck, I kind of landed here by accident. I wasn't familiar with online forums before visiting this site.

    But finding the way onto the streets was my initiative. As was learning how to change a flat. And finding out the different routes in the city as well as venturing onto them all on my lonesome.

    Basically if I knew somebody who was approachable and positive about an obese woman riding a bike, it would have helped tremendously. And I would have avoided that incident with the washed out trail. Yeah, I'd have liked that. Ditto leaving a different trail and learning not every major, busy arterial road has a sidewalk and I'd end up pushing my bike up hill on the road shoulder. Would've liked to avoid that misadventure.

    Luckily I'm curious and fairly courageous (or stupid, but let's not nitpick) and I was eager to figure out bike riding full time so I went head first into it. Not everyone is like me (my mother is probably wishing didn't encourage my curious nature when I was growing up) so it would be great if more people acted like bike ambassadors for the uninitiated. I think that would help more people use bikes more often.


  19. #19
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I think you've hit the nail on the head; bicycling will catch on when people see so-called "normal" people doing it in large numbers.
    Also if media would cover celebrities riding their bikes, that would make it more acceptable.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  20. #20
    Lost on the road of life
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    I would've thought the lack of car parking everywhere I go would've taken care of this by now...

    When I used to live in Northern California, I'd see people idling in their cars in the parking lot waiting for a space or stacked up at the entrance to the parking lot. I could swing by on my bike, lock to a pole or tree, go in, get what I need, be back on bike and on the road while many of them were still idling. I wonder if any of them ever noticed and said to themselves, "Wouldn't that be nice? I wonder if I could...?"

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamboopiper View Post
    I would've thought the lack of car parking everywhere I go would've taken care of this by now...

    When I used to live in Northern California, I'd see people idling in their cars in the parking lot waiting for a space or stacked up at the entrance to the parking lot. I could swing by on my bike, lock to a pole or tree, go in, get what I need, be back on bike and on the road while many of them were still idling. I wonder if any of them ever noticed and said to themselves, "Wouldn't that be nice? I wonder if I could...?"
    This was an interesting read on the subject: http://gulfnews.com/life-style/motor...lives-1.701778

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillparzer View Post
    ...The recourses I or my family would have under these circumstances are limited under both criminal and civil law.
    What do you believe is limited under civil law in that situation?

    I am not aware of any legislation that limits civil awards for general drivers and their insurance companies. Of course the insurance company is only on the hook for whatever, the policy holders policy says, but the driver is liable for whatever the jury/judge awards above and beyond what the insurance company covers...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    Money talks. What's needed to promote bike use is:
    -Stop using wars to maintain cheap oil prices.
    -Tax gasoline burners for the cleanup of the mess they leave behind.
    -Tax large vehicle users for their fair share of road maintenance.
    -Stop encouraging consumerism and excess spending with expansionary monetary policies.

    Enable people to live recklessly beyond their means (socially, environmentally, physically, and economically) and that's what they'll do. Force people to do for themselves and they will use the resources have, in particular their bodies to cycle with.
    +1

    Honestly, a much larger chunk of the US population will have to be much poorer before people start ditching cars. They are considered such a necessity that we have let the quality of almost everything else in our lives suffer for the sake of automobile ownership. We eat crappy food that we can get cheaply without leaving our cars.

    I've always recognized and resented the huge ongoing cost of owning a car. I still sort of technically have one now, a $500 car that I am fortunate to be able to rely on due to a mechanic husband. But I drive it as little as possible. Even with a free car, I don't want to spend money on insurance and gas. Are you kidding? That's money I could use for trips and bike parts!

    Luckily (?) our current culture cannot survive. If enough people wise up to the real costs of this lifestyle, the change will be painless. If not, something big will happen to force the change.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    If people ditch their cars for financial reasons, we would see a marked increase in bike use. But later, when prosperity returns, the bikes would be abandoned once again because they would be seen as the transportation of the poor.
    Life is good.

  25. #25
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    If you want to see more bicycle/mass transit use in the USA,raise the price of gasoline to the prices seen in most of the rest of the world.

    When people have to spend $150.00-$200.00 for 20 gallons of gas,they'll consider mass transit/bicycles.Until then,nothing is going to change.

    If the US had half a brain,they would raise the taxes on gasoline and use the money to build mass transit.Of course that won't happen,the powers that be will raise the tax,then piss it off on some pet project.
    Last edited by Booger1; 10-27-10 at 12:47 PM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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