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Will this be the year?

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Will this be the year?

Old 02-24-12, 03:56 PM
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Will this be the year?

Gas prices are soaring to the point where gasoline is starting to look like a luxury item. Politics has brought Health Care back to the forefront.

Will these two items do anything to increase the number of daily cyclists in the U.S.?

I'm not here to discuss the cost of gas and Health Care. This post is not politicaly motivated. I'm not prepared to start that war here and now. I'm just wondering if these two issues, these two realities, might bring more people to ride bicycles. I wonder if there is a drift towards more bicycle usage in my area what the positive or negative results to my own cycling experience might be.

Will the thought of dropping $100 into the gas tank on a weekly or biweekly basis get folks motivated enough to pedal more and drive less? I have personally seen a distinct decrease of motorized traffic since the first foray into the $4 per gallon arena a few years back. I think much of the decrease can be attributed to smarter resource usage such as combining errands to decrease auto trips.

How has this affected me, the 50+ cyclist? For one thing the roads being less congested makes my cycling more enjoyable. I also suspect that more of the motorists that I do encounter may be splitting their transportation needs between cars and bikes. I expect that part time cylists driving cars would have more respect for cyclists on the road which would also enhance my cycling experience. Of course I have no data to confirm any of this beyond my personal observations.

With Health Care in the daily news how can one not spend some time considering what their own health status is? I often wonder if such thoughts will cause some folks to turn to cycling as a way to perhaps improve their health.

I continue to wonder, could this be the year that bicycle usage actually increases enough to be noticable? Is it possible that my area roadways might actually become even more pleasant?

I'm I alone in these wonderings? Has anyone else seen any positive cycling trends recently and have they had any influence on your own cycling experience?
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Old 02-24-12, 04:02 PM
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It certainly can't hurt. I know a neighbor who is thinking about it.
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Old 02-24-12, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cranky old dude
Gas prices are soaring to the point where gasoline is starting to look like a luxury item. Politics has brought Health Care back to the forefront.

Will these two items do anything to increase the number of daily cyclists in the U.S.?

I'm not here to discuss the cost of gas and Health Care. This post is not politicaly motivated. I'm not prepared to start that war here and now. I'm just wondering if these two issues, these two realities, might bring more people to ride bicycles. I wonder if there is a drift towards more bicycle usage in my area what the positive or negative results to my own cycling experience might be.

Will the thought of dropping $100 into the gas tank on a weekly or biweekly basis get folks motivated enough to pedal more and drive less? I have personally seen a distinct decrease of motorized traffic since the first foray into the $4 per gallon arena a few years back. I think much of the decrease can be attributed to smarter resource usage such as combining errands to decrease auto trips.

How has this affected me, the 50+ cyclist? For one thing the roads being less congested makes my cycling more enjoyable. I also suspect that more of the motorists that I do encounter may be splitting their transportation needs between cars and bikes. I expect that part time cylists driving cars would have more respect for cyclists on the road which would also enhance my cycling experience. Of course I have no data to confirm any of this beyond my personal observations.

With Health Care in the daily news how can one not spend some time considering what their own health status is? I often wonder if such thoughts will cause some folks to turn to cycling as a way to perhaps improve their health.

I continue to wonder, could this be the year that bicycle usage actually increases enough to be noticable? Is it possible that my area roadways might actually become even more pleasant?

I'm I alone in these wonderings? Has anyone else seen any positive cycling trends recently and have they had any influence on your own cycling experience?
Remember the '70s? Back then I really got into cycling... I had a drivers license, but I really enjoyed cycling and I couldn't keep my old car running and just gave up on it and went car free. About that time the nation was going to odd/even days for gas availability... something having to do with your license plates and the day of the week... I don't remember the exact situation... but it boiled down to only being able to get gas on certain days... if you could get it. There were long lines everywhere. I actually rather chuckled inside as I rode my trusty steel steed past those long lines of motorists waiting for gas. I just knew I was doing the right thing, and it was only a matter of time before everyone caught on.

My first thought was after odd/even gas days, the nation would restrict driving... the national speed limit was already lowered to 55MPH... how much longer before we had odd/even driving days? I waited patiently. I just knew we would go to some national no drive day situation at least one day a week.

Well the rest is history. OPEC opened the spigot, gas became available, gas went up in price, but no one seemed to care much... then SUVs came along... including that behemoth the HUMMER. People were flat out ignoring the rising cost of gas or the lessons of the '70s.

Now we've supposedly reached peak oil... the resource is limited... but folks just keep on buying gas. Hybrids have been invented, so too have electric cars. I suspect that in the not too distant future, we will see more and more alternative energy vehicles... but not much reduction in the sheer numbers of vehicles on the road. We may even go to robot drive vehicles and some sort of lease system. But no matter what, the genie is out of the bottle... motor vehicles in some fashion are here to stay.

The roads may become safer in the future with robot cars that strictly obey the rules... but no matter what, we will still have "cars." At least until someone figures out matter transmission.

Beam me up Scottie...
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Old 02-24-12, 04:25 PM
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Will the thought of dropping $100 into the gas tank on a weekly or biweekly basis get folks motivated enough to pedal more and drive less?

I don't think so, except perhaps the younger generation. People will complain to high heaven, cut back on their travel and even carpool but most people are more likely to consider it necessary for their lifestyle than to change modes.

High unemployment seems to have that effect.
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Old 02-24-12, 04:25 PM
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As you may recall, cranky, a couple of years ago gas was over $5 in our town. Didn't amount to much other than griping then. Not sure what's different now.
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Old 02-24-12, 04:26 PM
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I saw a lot more bikes on the road here when prices hit about $4/gal, but most of them were waiting with their owners at the bus stops. If things go according to plan at work I can begin commuting this summer. The task will be in convincing my wife it's not too dangerous. My fear is not related to safety, but becoming bored with a routine.
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Old 02-24-12, 04:33 PM
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Cycling or driving is getting into discussion more and more over here. You are either for cyclists or against. And I do mean cyclists. The greener- healthier side of cycling comes to the fore and on the other side is the disruption caused by Cycles and cars using the same bit of asphalt and the bad riding habits of cyclists.

I have got fed up with listening to the arguments now as it seems to be the extremists that seem to get their views listened to. There does not seem to be a faction where the two can live alongside each other.

Diesel over here is 1.43 a litre- That is around $10 a gallon. Hasn't made a great deal of difference on the number of cars on the road but I do see a lot more cyclists on the dryer- warmer mornings on their Commute to work.

One point I heard and it relates to Holland where cyclists rule the roads. With the number of bikes on the roads- Car drivers are aware of cyclists and this has led to a big reduction in accidents involving cycles. Over here in the UK- the cyclists that stick in my mind are the ones that run red lights- the ones that use a very busy road instead of the cycle path that runs alongside the road- and the serious groups of Club riders that cause no harm- ride safely and still get stick from the motorists.

5 more weeks and I will be joining the carless cyclists. I hope I will enjoy it but I do wonder how long I will be able to enjoy it before I am forced off the road by a Car driver that is out to get me.

Cost of fuel is not going to get people out of their cars. You are not going to get more using cycles for commuting till the roads are made safer for them. So Status Quo will continue.
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Old 02-24-12, 04:53 PM
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I snapped at several College kids yesterday I saw riding their bikes while I was cycling. "You're on the wrong side of the road!," I exclaimed. They were going against traffic. It really annoys me when people do this--I've seen young and older both being guilty.
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Old 02-24-12, 05:01 PM
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We usually put more miles on our tandem and single than we do on our 15-year-old one-and-only car.
Most Americans will ***** but they'll not get their lazy butts out of that cars except to get more gas.

Remember the 70s gas crunch and the odd-even number for getting gas. Pedaled right past those gas stations and smiled.
Still smiling . . .
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Old 02-24-12, 05:06 PM
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A couple of years ago when gas got around $4 per gallon, I saw many more people riding bikes to work and taking the commuter train. Lots of newbies on bikes who looked like they hadn't ridden in years. Sadly, when the price of gas dropped back down, so did the number of people I saw biking and taking the train.
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Old 02-24-12, 05:17 PM
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If the predictions in the USA for gas prices come true this summer, you'll see an increase again in cyclists and public transit--hopefully carpooling as well.
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Old 02-24-12, 05:42 PM
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Gas price isn't going to affect the amount I ride. It's just going to be an increased expense for me. The minute increase in bike ridership, reduction of miles traveled by car etc. aren't worth what it's going to cost me.
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Old 02-24-12, 06:02 PM
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It's a good discussion. During the last gas spike I thought there was less traffic out. As much as I love big old pick-ups, they were a bit less numerous then. I don't care for them when I'm out cycling.

I don't think you'll see a big surge in cycling as a result of this. It won't effect my commuting. The money I save on a commute is nominal, even when gas prices sky-rocket.

OTOH, I think the ongoing shift of healthcare costs to healthcare consumers is serving as a wake-up call. Being obese and out of shape is EXPENSIVE, and unless you can shift the costs and responsibility off on someone else, you just have to get off your butt and do something about it.

That's a big reason why I cycle. I'm too cheap to get sick.
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Old 02-24-12, 06:29 PM
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Undoubtedly it will sway a few more people who otherwise wouldn't bother. It won't make a tremendous change I don't think. Last gas spike I noticed a slight decrease in traffic. A slight lowering of average speed on interstates. Slightly fewer hulking SUV's and pickups most being replaced by older smaller or just smaller vehicles (though not so small).

More noticeable were people trying out motorcycles and more so scooters for very local trips.

My guess is the reaction will be smaller this time as people have gotten used to somewhat higher prices in the interim. I also think people powered transport will be the last option after smaller cars, fewer trips, and scooters. One reason is so many are not fit to use a bike. Some have been so unfit, and become so large for so long they couldn't if they wanted to. Many who might manage will despair at being able to do so. (I say this as someone who weighed over 300 lbs 4 years ago and weigh 185 now). Now I loved biking earlier in life, just let myself get busy with other things. Finally returned to it, but that doesn't happen often. No secret to it, mostly just decided I was going to make it happen.
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Old 02-24-12, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikey Mikey
I snapped at several College kids yesterday I saw riding their bikes while I was cycling. "You're on the wrong side of the road!," I exclaimed. They were going against traffic. It really annoys me when people do this--I've seen young and older both being guilty.
Don't go over to England, they're all on the wrong side.
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Old 02-24-12, 08:10 PM
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@gear,

I lived in England from age 13 to 18. We lived "on the economy," off base with the british(father stationed at RAF Alconbury--I also was born in England, RAF Sculthorpe(only there 6 months that time)). Never got a license in the UK, but when we returned stateside, I had to constantly remember to drive on the right side...never made the error of driving on the left in the states, but I had to think about it until it became second nature.

Well, I hope more use cycling or walking for short shopping trips. I often will use the bike just to pick up a prescription or go to the bank instead of using the car.
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Old 02-24-12, 09:32 PM
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I think the effects will be longer term; people looking to live closer to work and possibly considering rent vs. buy to provide flexibility as job changes occur. Of course living closer will create greater opportunity to cycle to work. I live in CA and long distance commuters must really be feeling the pinch. We used to put 25K miles on each of two cars and that has dropped significantly since I started working out of my house.
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Old 02-24-12, 10:07 PM
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When fuel got above 4.25 here in 2008 there was a noticeable increase in bicycles and, especially, scooters and motorcycles. And there was a noticeable decrease in automobile traffic. It was a great summer.

With the similar, though shorter-lived, spike last summer I didn't notice a repeat. A pity. But maybe that was due only to the fact that it went down to about 3.50 or so pretty quickly.

I root for the price of gas to go up. (though I don't say it very much. You'll make enemies that way.) I might say that I feel lucky to be able to feel this way. But luck has nothing to do with it. I've earned it and I'm proud of that.

My only worry is that high fuel prices will hurt the economy. My answer is that we should even subsidize the cost of commercial, and especially agricultural, fuel use if that's what it takes. The "other shoe", then, would be very high cost of fuel for personal use.

It wouldn't bother me one bit.

And my co-workers and neighbors and such are perfectly welcome to ask my advice on how to cope.
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Old 02-25-12, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Bikey Mikey
I snapped at several College kids yesterday I saw riding their bikes while I was cycling. "You're on the wrong side of the road!," I exclaimed. They were going against traffic. It really annoys me when people do this--I've seen young and older both being guilty.
Those are the "amateurs" and it's pure ignorance. Happens around here from time to time. It's really fun when they're coming right at you.
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Old 02-25-12, 06:05 AM
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There have been some stories on local TV about an expected "boom" in cycling due to gas prices. I'll believe it when I see it. American life has been fashioned around the automobile to the extent that most people need a car. I don't see any big changes anytime soon.
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Old 02-25-12, 07:23 AM
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I think some people will get off the couch
and get on the bike for a try at this.
This is when they are vulnerable ,
and we can make them just like us .
Can't think of a better fate for them .
Healthier, happier .
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Old 02-25-12, 08:02 AM
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cod, If the previous periods of higher than normal fuel prices, or lower than normal fuel availability are a guide (in my area) there will be more folks on motorcycles... and more accidents involving motorcycles/scooters. Just a result of the suburban, rather than urban housing coupled with poor bicycle use road planning prevalent until recently. BTW, motorcycles in Texas have traditionally been exempt from the odd/even scheme. I do see more people riding bicycles, but mainly for recreation. Personally my bicycle riding is unlikely to change, but the motorcycle may see more frequent hot/cold cycles than in the past. Also on a personal note, while the domestic auto makers are bringing to the US market vehicles they once sold only in Europe (a good thing) I won't be dumping my present car for new one unless it's crashed to an early death, despite it's medicore fuel mileage.

Health care in the US is a train wreck. I don't really understand why (which usually leads to politics and I have a soap box set aside for that subject alone that I won't bring out). Personal health awareness and care has been improving for many years, in particular with the 'older generation'. While my daughters fuss over their children's physical activity, health and diet, I fear they're still in the minority.

Brad
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Old 02-25-12, 08:11 AM
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I think it all boils down to how much oil is left? How much gas will India and China use ten years from now? How much pollution will we accept to squeeze traces of oil from rock and sand? My son is an engineer for an oil company and he tells me they're not worried. Many Americans are willing to put up an oil rig in their back yard if necessary to keep driving their car three blocks to the grocery store. A society based on increased consumption of a limited resource has predictable results eventually. Until we make a conscious choice in city / road planning like they did in the Netherlands, to most Americans, bicycles will always be either a toy or a sport, ... not a transportation alternative.
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Old 02-25-12, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bradtx
cod, If the previous periods of higher than normal fuel prices, or lower than normal fuel availability are a guide (in my area) there will be more folks on motorcycles... and more accidents involving motorcycles/scooters.

Brad
I remember all too well the "explosion" of motorcycle riders. It wasn't just about fuel economy though. It was a bunch of 50 yo Boomers who were successful lawyers, accountants, execs, etc. who wanted to recapture their youth by indulging in the Harley-Davidson "lifestyle." It wasn't too long afterward that the motorcycle accident stats started bulging in the over 50 category rather than the traditional 17-22 yo demographic.
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Old 02-25-12, 09:04 AM
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Lots of good points brought up in this thread so far, and we've managed to keep it non political.

Perhaps in some parts of the country there is not a noticable decrease in automobile usage, but according to this article we as a country are using far less gasoline than we used to. Assuming this article is accurate I suspect that a change of some sort is beginning to occur.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/angry-...efineries.html

In my household I now track gasoline usage in an effort to be able to project and budget my needs for the year. I have all but mothballed our old conversion van and abandoned our dreams of cross country trips wrapped in its comfort and luxury with my bike safely stowed inside. Instead I've purchased a hitch rack and installed a class 2 hitch on my wife's '96 Camry. Any traveling we do will be either by train or in the Camry with the bike on the back, and even those trips have been indefinately postponed. Of course, everyone's finances differ.

I still wonder if this is the year or perhaps the change has already started and I missed it?

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