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What would you do to increase bicycle ridership in the US?

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What would you do to increase bicycle ridership in the US?

Old 04-16-15, 10:59 AM
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genec
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What would you do to increase bicycle ridership in the US?

Simple question... what would you do or what suggestions would you make to increase cycling modal share in the US.

Toss in your ideas. What is going to get people biking more.

According to a recent census, some 29% of the population lives within 5 miles of their place of work... if about 1/3 of those folks took up cycling to get to work, that could be as much as a 10% modal share for commuting.

Something around 40+% of all workers have no more than a 12 mile commute.

So how do we get more folks riding bikes for their commutes?

Any and all ideas... what the heck. Anything but status quo... which has only lead to less than 2% modal share in most places. (there are some exceptional cities that have much more than 2% modal share for cycling... could those cities be examples for other cities?)
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Old 04-16-15, 12:26 PM
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The thing is, "status quo" has been slow but steady improvements, things take time, trying to push cycling too hard will likely backfire and cause resentment. Every thread on the subject of infrastructure brings strong objections to everything from VC to Dutch style infrastructure, there's no cohesive plan that everyone will support.
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Old 04-16-15, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Simple question... what would you do or what suggestions would you make to increase cycling modal share in the US.

Toss in your ideas. What is going to get people biking more.

According to a recent census, some 29% of the population lives within 5 miles of their place of work... if about 1/3 of those folks took up cycling to get to work, that could be as much as a 10% modal share for commuting.

Something around 40+% of all workers have no more than a 12 mile commute.

So how do we get more folks riding bikes for their commutes?

Any and all ideas... what the heck. Anything but status quo... which has only lead to less than 2% modal share in most places. (there are some exceptional cities that have much more than 2% modal share for cycling... could those cities be examples for other cities?)
It is not a given that individuals on BF have any particular issue with the current ("status quo") modal share of bicycles.

You are asking for a "solution" without stating what the problem with status quo modal share is or why it needs to be "fixed" by an increased bicycle share.
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Old 04-16-15, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Simple question... what would you do or what suggestions would you make to increase cycling modal share in the US.
Easy: ban cars.

More difficult: steadily increase costs for car ownership and operation until it makes economic sense for anyone not making $whatever to investigate alt-transportation, which will increase bike share. Tiered licensing works well in some European countries, but is not politically feasible in the USA...

Better question: what could we be doing different now to increase bike modal share without causing political turmoil? Common sense and "educating the public" isn't cutting it...
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Old 04-16-15, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
So how do we get more folks riding bikes for their commutes?
Why would I want that? I am a fairly fast cyclist. Back in the day when few others commuted by bicycle I would have all of the gaps in gridlocked auto traffic to myself. Now that utilitarian cycling is increasing by leaps and bounds in my city I often find myself bottled up by slower cyclists occupying my gaps and putting me at greater risk.

It was far better for me when fewer people were cycling to work. I have no desire to increase the number of commuter cyclists in my city and in my way.
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Old 04-16-15, 02:36 PM
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Raise gas prices.
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Old 04-16-15, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GP View Post
Raise gas prices.
People will starve their children before they give up their cars due to high gas prices. They may drive a little less, vacation closer to home, but they will NOT ride a bicycle to work in significant numbers due to high fuel prices.
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Old 04-16-15, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Something around 40+% of all workers have no more than a 12 mile commute.
Mine is 93 RT.
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Old 04-16-15, 02:47 PM
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VC folks won't agree that it's a good thing, but good paths, bikeways, and even well done stripped lanes will increase ridership. Although I can't tell for sure if that's the reason, I've seen a increase in those things happening followed by increasing usage in Minnesota. And then more folks cycling cause more folks to think about cycling.

I think there's also a component of culture change ("green thinking"/hipster culture/desire for fitness) in this, but at least in the Twin Cities there's been a fair supply of that for decades, but the easily observable increase in folks seen riding bikes has ramped up in this decade once the path/bikeways/lanes stuff got better.

So that's the "one thing" I see, although there's no reason not to have other things along with it.

The next thing, something I haven't seen, but it might help accelerate ridership, would be a Henry Ford/Grant Peterson type to come along. I see lots of utility biking in my rides (because I'm more or less doing the same thing, maybe I'm looking for it) and there's a lot of folks in my neck of woods on BSOs. A good $150-200 hybrid-like bike available a big box stores might help more mass transit and clunker drivers to think about biking. Lots of us know how well an old hard-tail mountain bike, even one with lots of usage on it, can serve as a urban bike. But the unlimited supply isn't there for the person just trying to find a bike they can justify on their budget.
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Old 04-16-15, 02:49 PM
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IMHO

this is hard one.

My basic answer first instead of last: All of us who like bikes need to lead by commuting and doing errands on bikes where what is comfortable.....it might be bike specifict for a 15 mile commute or shorts/pants and a shirt for an errand. We need to encourage people we know

My feeling is that an increase will only come when for an average person (not a bike fans like us) like us find in more convenient to use a bike than to drive.

What makes it more convenient?

There is no one solution, but some mix of: Socially acceptable, easier to park, safe place to park bike, cheaper, rider is comfortable with the ride, see other riders often, bikes that are appropriate for the ride and considered not too expensive. this is a start not every thing.

Most of what can be done is governmental other is gloal

Road diets: I see a lot more riders in a downtown area that has a trial road diet than before the diet. This is with bike lanes by the door zone. Clearly even with that more riders are comfortable

Infrastructure: what is appropriate for the location. Personally I think bike lanes give a big bang for the buck. I would rather see 100 block of bike lanes to 10 blocks for segregated lanes.

Bike parking: more and safer. this could be a sell for a business


car parking: less and more expensive. change zoning to not require as many parking spots for a business, require companies to charge for parking


Socially acceptable: the more people you see like you the more you are ok with something. goes with seeing more riders

way higher car costs, registration, cost per mile, gas etc.

this is just a flavor of things, but more people riding begets better parking, infrastructure which begets more riders which begets more focus on simple bikes, etc

just my dream....but it goes down to lead by example, ride, help people ride.

I am commuting tomorrow after a week of not able to due to wierd meetings
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Old 04-16-15, 02:56 PM
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Cheap e-bikes would go a long way in increasing ridership. Especially if we had ubiquitous biking infrastructure.
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Old 04-16-15, 04:10 PM
  #12  
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Not that it would be politically feasible, but various measures would decrease the convenience and increase the cost of driving to where bicycling would be more attractive to that portion of the population that might be considering it today but hasn't made the commitment yet:
e.g. lower and enforce speed limits in urban and residential areas, reduce/eliminate 'free' parking, stop road widening projects, 'traffic calming' measures such as circles, planters/bulbouts, etc., car-free urban shopping areas, carbon taxes.
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Old 04-16-15, 04:26 PM
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I'll stick with the one solution that has worked in the one place it was tried in the US: Zero-tolerance enforcement of traffic laws. Davis, CA put this in place in the '70s and got bikes to outnumber cars. It abandoned it in the mid-'80s and saw the use of bikes plummet (unfortunately, there were other things happening that likely contributed to the decline from bike heaven to simply better than other places).

Before you dismiss this, think about it. First of all, it pays for itself with the fines generated so we don't run into issues with the anti-tax folks. As an added bonus, criminals tend to stand out amongst drivers who have been trained to obey the law, so solving crimes gets easier. One other thing: cars are often considered to be faster than bikes. While they have higher top-end speeds, in most urban and even many suburban settings this higher top-end would be negated by being forced to obey the law. It takes longer to come to a complete stop than most people think (likely because they have never done it). If we add in a few well-done bike paths that don't have silly intersection issues, we can create cities in which travelling by bike is the fastest way to go for most people.
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Old 04-16-15, 07:07 PM
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Make it harder to find car parking. One of the things driving the increase in bike commuting where I live is that the town's major employer has a seven year wait list for free parking.
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Old 04-16-15, 07:14 PM
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We live about a half mile from my wife's work. Doesn't even have to leave the subdivision. She's been driving it for 40 years. My suggestion would be worth squat!
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Old 04-16-15, 07:21 PM
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I would create bike lanes first . There are roads around here that are obvious favorites for cyclists. However, without separate lanes. Encourage companies to offer incentives for alternative transportation to work. I.e., give them $$ towards a new bike.
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Old 04-16-15, 09:55 PM
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Offer free welfare and unlimited McDonalds combo meals to all bicycle riders?
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Old 04-17-15, 06:37 AM
  #18  
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Ah ha some interesting and original ideas... including "free fuel;" nice touch.

Carry on folks... both the humorous and the real.

I used to tell folks that on a bike, my mileage was about 70 miles or so on one cheeseburger.
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Old 04-17-15, 06:45 AM
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BTW I always find it somewhat amusing that there are the inevitable naysayers... those that insist that this or that cannot be done or won't be accepted... which is quite interesting in of itself... due to the history of America and what we often call a "can do" spirit.
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Old 04-17-15, 07:10 AM
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Yes, but is not having more people cycling better for yourself and others in the long run? Your commute may be hampered but with the increased prevalence of cyclists you are, I would presume, less likely to get hit by a car. Those that drive cars may become more accustomed to cyclists. But, I am not from New Orleans and do not know everyday living there.
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Old 04-17-15, 07:11 AM
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Combine what "steve" said about making parking harder to find. You could do that by using up parking on one side of the streets by making the parking area well marked bike lanes. And then strictly enforce those lanes.
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Old 04-17-15, 07:22 AM
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Make all interstates toll roads for non-commercial motorized vehicles, and put a per hour fee on all parking spaces. In both cases, use funds to repair roads and build multi-use and multimodal, affordable infrastructure.
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Old 04-17-15, 07:25 AM
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I don't see an increase in bicycle commuting percentages in US until there is a tipping point of getting to work by bicycle is far faster than driving, and with minimal or no contact with automobiles, especially with the distance parameters set in the OP. As of now, most of US road infrastructure favors the automobile, and in reducing motorized traffic commute times, usually at the expense of other means of travel.
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Old 04-17-15, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
It is not a given that individuals on BF have any particular issue with the current ("status quo") modal share of bicycles.
You are asking for a "solution" without stating what the problem with status quo modal share is or why it needs to be "fixed" by an increased bicycle share.
+1 the "dream" of human powered horse travel still seems to run deep with the true believer's. But after more than 100 years of modern bicycles and the promotion of a "bicycle solution"..... it my be safe to assume... "building it" does NOT mean they will come.

Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
Easy: ban cars.
........ steadily increase costs for car ownership and operation .......... works well in some European countries, but is not politically feasible in the USA...
The old tyrannical ideas of using a military or police force on the public might work. But mostly such ideas are imposed on the gullible by over-looking the fact that revolutions happen everywhere. Free people are no-longer free when "rulers" can simply decide to "ban" products deemed unpopular by a select group.

Not every problem has a solution. The "golden age" of bicycling is long past. Although bicycles may always be with us in some way at some level.... the dream of an age of human powered (horse replacement) travel.... has been gone for decades. The last large market-place of bicycle usage is discarding their Flying Pigeon's.... for compact family cars.

So How do I increase bicycle ridership in the US? By opposing the strongman-government revolutionaries that are actively putting cyclist (and other groups) in opposition to the general public. And I share with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family the true enjoyment I experience when cycling. AND... I point out that I (for one) do not support even one penny of cycling infrastructure cost to any non-cyclist. NO ONE... that I know wants a government supported or tax funded hobby.

It is my belief that much more government spending on what most people accept as a hobby/sport... will make cycling about as socially popular...as public smoking.
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Old 04-17-15, 08:07 AM
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Yeah, we should raise prices on everything & make life more difficult for the average person. Are you listening to yourselves? This is silliness.
The fact it that a nice bicycle is expensive. Clothing is expensive. We're expected to live a tight schedule & show up to work looking & smelling pretty. If you want more people on two wheels between the house & job, maybe companies should give incentives to employees & offer a safe place to store a bicycle. Relax on the dress codes "a bit" & encourage healthy living. Hell, i'm working for a very environmentally & employee friendly company. One who tries to be a great employer & they only "put a bike rack out, in the summer". Seriously???? I'm looking for a cheap reliable commuter. I'm not leaving one of my precious bikes out alone to be vandalized or worse.....
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