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Will the COVID bike boom help us get cycling infrastructure in the US?

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Will the COVID bike boom help us get cycling infrastructure in the US?

Old 12-18-20, 05:10 PM
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Will the COVID bike boom help us get cycling infrastructure in the US?

It's pretty great to see so many people on bikes. I'm pleased to have the feeling that shops are making a little money too.

But will this COVID boom be able to push us farther in terms of protected lanes, bike paths, etc?

I certainly hope so, but going by the 70s boom maybe not.

I made a short documentary about it: https://vimeo.com/486935852

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Old 12-18-20, 05:40 PM
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No faster than its already being created.
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Old 12-18-20, 05:45 PM
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Will the COVID bike boom help us get cycling infrastructure in the US?

I doubt it. Once people can get back into the Gyms or back to work/school full time it will die down again. Sad because I have liked what has happened
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Old 12-18-20, 05:49 PM
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I sorta concur with vacyclist. Not all is good for cycling in this pandemic. A LBS near me had to go out of business because they couldn’t get parts to repair bikes.

Dan
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Old 12-18-20, 05:57 PM
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No, people have short memories.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:10 PM
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No it won't help infrastructure at all. In fact, it will probably harm it.

The "bike boom" is good for manufacturers, LBS's, and others-like all those people with bikes left in their garages for 4 years bringing 'em out and selling for 175% of what they normally get-since they will all make more money.

But it's been bad for other business sectors and in particular governments are having to make due with a lot less funding from a decrease in tax base.

Since almost all cycling infrastructure comes from city/state/county budgets and for the foreseeable future those are and will continually be decreasing. You're looking at a lot less infrastructure.

How the Coronavirus Will Harm State and City Budgets

Pandemic Brings Fresh Challenges for City Budgeting

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-a...local-budgets/

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-fr...ocal-revenues/

States Continue to Face Large Shortfalls Due to COVID-19 Effects

Cycling infrastructure will more than likely get "cut" from many cities budgets.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:36 PM
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The crazy thing about all this to me is all the years of working on bicycle advocacy I thought the barriers to getting people on bikes were stuff like, being embarrassed, not feeling fit enough, not knowing where to go... that sort of thing.

It feels to me like the "real" competitors of cycling were, in fact, bars and sports.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:39 PM
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Probably not. This was good for a short bit for the industry and now shops are closing or having to furlough employees. Most of the cyclists that have been created from this don't give a crap about cycling really they are in it to get exercise and once this whole thing gets figured out and we find a new normal and they can get into gyms and back to work and all of that the bikes will sit in basements and garages.

Exercise is not a bad thing but it does little to help the infrastructure unless people are actually invested in it and this is a passing fad for some people. It has been nice having fewer cars on the road but it hasn't changed drivers at all, they are generally all still the same, maybe a touch more compassion because some of them are now occasional riders but once it is all over and we are blocking their path on roads they spent a billion dollars in taxes on that somehow we didn't pay for and completely ruined with our 15-60lb bikes they will go back to the same.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:42 PM
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Come summer when roughly half for the USA will have got the vaccine... bikes will be forgotten. So it's a big no.



anyone know if "mayor Pete" is a avid cyclist or not... there is your only hope since he's got that cabinet position.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
]and we are blocking their path on roads they spent a billion dollars in taxes on that somehow we didn't pay for
I feel that one.

I promise I pay the same tax you do, driver. And I own a car too. I'm just not in it *right now.*
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Old 12-18-20, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jhodgson View Post
I feel that one.

I promise I pay the same tax you do, driver. And I own a car too. I'm just not in it *right now.*
They don't care. I had someone argue that with me and I was like "dude I pay the same taxes but my vehicles weighs a whole lot less so I do less damage and I don't really require as many and as wide lanes for my little bike" He was not having it. I don't get it, if I could pay fewer taxes for roads you don't think I would already. Those potholes have caused me flats I have had to fix myself with my own damn money (it wasn't much they are tubes but still the principle) yet I didn't cause those potholes I simply couldn't even with my more ample derričre and ZIPP toroidal bulge at the front in the stomach region heck even on a heavy e-bike I still couldn't do much damage compared to a car or SUV.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:01 PM
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If the number of bicycle riders doubled next week it wouldn't do anything to get more infrastructure. Wanting more places to ride bicycles is nice and all but it takes a literal ton of money to build it. That money will have to come from the tax payer and that is simply not going to happen until the economic effects of the demic are long past.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:03 PM
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No.

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Old 12-18-20, 07:07 PM
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There is nothing wrong with cycling infrastructure in the US. As bicycles can ride most places cars can drive, America has more roadways available for cycling than nearly any other country. What America needs is to properly educate car drivers on sharing the road. Simply putting a couple extra questions in a written drivers license test would go a long way to making roads safer for cyclists.

I live in Japan, where drivers are reminded over and over again about driving safely around pedestrians and cyclists. When I first renewed my license here I had to watch a corny driver safety movie about a driver playing with his phone and accidentally hitting a cyclist, and then all the hell he had to go through afterwards as a result.

America has the most lax driving rules of any country. The driving and written tests are so simple that a 15-year-old can pass them. Here in Japan tests are difficult. The written test has some 200 questions, many of which are tricky, most people do not pass on their first attempt. The driving test is even more difficult, and no one passes on their first attempt. Then there is the cost, which runs about $3000 for driving schools and fees. No one under 18 can get a license in Japan. But the result is that the roads in Japan are far safer than those in America, and drivers make way for bicycles.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:19 PM
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I think bike shops are out of bikes because manufacturers cut back, not because everyone is riding.

I saw some more bikes on the road when the lockdown first hit, but not so much now. And the majority were on the sidewalk even when there were bicycle lanes---so in a way i don't count those as "cyclists" (not in an elitist way, but they are sort of bicycle riders .... not people who are going to campaign for bike lanes. because they don't want to be on the road with cars.

I don't think the number of people who are passionate about riding has increased much at all. I don't think the number of people riding for utility has increased at all. Maybe it is specific to my location, but i don't see a lot more people riding, and no more on the orads, or pulling up to teh bike racks at the supermarket, for instance.

On a more positive not i do see more of the ongoing road-building projects---mostly widening existing roads---including bike lanes, and often well0designed bike lanes---but assume all those plans were finalized a few years ago.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
There is nothing wrong with cycling infrastructure in the US. As bicycles can ride most places cars can drive, America has more roadways available for cycling than nearly any other country. What America needs is to properly educate car drivers on sharing the road. Simply putting a couple extra questions in a written drivers license test would go a long way to making roads safer for cyclists.

I live in Japan, where drivers are reminded over and over again about driving safely around pedestrians and cyclists. When I first renewed my license here I had to watch a corny driver safety movie about a driver playing with his phone and accidentally hitting a cyclist, and then all the hell he had to go through afterwards as a result.

America has the most lax driving rules of any country. The driving and written tests are so simple that a 15-year-old can pass them. Here in Japan tests are difficult. The written test has some 200 questions, many of which are tricky, most people do not pass on their first attempt. The driving test is even more difficult, and no one passes on their first attempt. Then there is the cost, which runs about $3000 for driving schools and fees. No one under 18 can get a license in Japan. But the result is that the roads in Japan are far safer than those in America, and drivers make way for bicycles.
I'm with you on most of that. But Japan and the US are not the same places financially. The US auto lobby is unbelievably powerful here... or at least, was.

Then again, Japan is roughly the size of a large US state. They don't need to move around to survive like we do (or did) and stuff like heavy rail makes a lot more sense. They don't have room to park anything bigger than a kei car. We do.

I completely agree that US driving tests should be harder. I think they should be ongoing as well. We take a crazy easy test *once* and then never again.

That said, in terms of rows to hoe in the US I'll take working on increased infrastructure over working for greater automotive regulation every time. The former has a glimmer of possibility and a modicum of result. The latter, in my view, not so much.

There's nothing wrong, objectively, with the ability to move around the US on a bike, but you will get hit by a driver. I know I have, multiple times. I assume just about everyone here is the same.

So yeah, you're right. It's not the infrastructure, per se, but I don't think overhauling the US licensing process will ever happen. Some protected bike lanes might.
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Old 12-18-20, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
There is nothing wrong with cycling infrastructure in the US. As bicycles can ride most places cars can drive, America has more roadways available for cycling than nearly any other country. What America needs is to properly educate car drivers on sharing the road. Simply putting a couple extra questions in a written drivers license test would go a long way to making roads safer for cyclists.

I live in Japan, where drivers are reminded over and over again about driving safely around pedestrians and cyclists.
A lot of those roads you mention being available for cyclists simply aren't realistic for a huge % of people who consider themselves cyclists, so they for sure aren't realistic for those who would take up cycling if not for traffic..

Yeah there are 4 million miles of paved roads, but that doesnt mean there are 4 million miles of good cycling because those roads weren't designed for use by anything but cars.
its as simple as that.


Educating drivers certainly helps, i totally agree. But even with fully aware drivers, a massive amount of roads in the US just aren't designed for cycling and are therefore not ideal.
Simply having roads /= good cycling infrastructure.
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Old 12-18-20, 09:25 PM
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I think the answer is that if you want to see more new dedicated cyclists, you need to address their expectations that their lanes are separate from auto lanes. Because that's the reasoning I hear every time I bring up the subject. People at least say they would ride to work etc if they felt safer. Which is kind of saying that if the infrastructure were already there, they would simply use it. Horse before the cart, ironically.

I think the micro bike boom was merely a response to being told to distance from other people. An outdoor activity "The State" couldn't order people not to do. Unless you live in Michigan. Then, well...
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Old 12-18-20, 09:30 PM
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Without veering off into a post that would be left standing only in the Politics and Religion subforum, let's just say that the days of large-scale infrastructure programs in the US are likely over. For about 40 years, we've seen a more-or-less steadily rising deficit and debt, and this has been used as an excuse (by the same party that has exploded the debt, ironically) to stop spending that would benefit all but the military and the moneyed classes. Something like bicycle transportation infrastructure has got no chance.
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Old 12-18-20, 09:35 PM
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Nope. If anything the pandemic has created an economic crisis that will hinder development of cycling-friendly infrastructure, and possibly delay it indefinitely.

My hometown is generally cycling-friendly or at least neutral, but I'm sensing a lot more impatience among drivers on familiar routes that used to seem safer. Folks are very irritable, drivers honking at each other over the slightest thing, speeding and swerving recklessly without any need.

Some of that is the usual year-end "holiday" seasonal stress. People already tended to be impatient and irritable as Christmas approaches. The economic slowdown, political stress and ongoing pandemic concerns have combined to make bike rides sketchy in some places.

I've switched to riding late at night more often this year to avoid traffic. And rather than cycling to stores for errands, I'm walking more and carrying stuff home. Even that is dangerous. Every intersection is like Death Race 2000. Intersections were already danger zones because drivers ignore pedestrian walk signals and turn left on flashing yellow and right on red without yielding to pedestrians. Many drivers interpret "yield" to mean "pedestrians have to get out of MY way."

I don't expect to see any emphasis on cycling infrastructure for at least a couple more years. Although some projects were already funded before the pandemic and construction has been going on as usual in some local areas this year.
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Old 12-18-20, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jhodgson View Post
I'm with you on most of that. But Japan and the US are not the same places financially. The US auto lobby is unbelievably powerful here... or at least, was.

Then again, Japan is roughly the size of a large US state. They don't need to move around to survive like we do (or did) and stuff like heavy rail makes a lot more sense. They don't have room to park anything bigger than a kei car. We do.

I completely agree that US driving tests should be harder. I think they should be ongoing as well. We take a crazy easy test *once* and then never again.

That said, in terms of rows to hoe in the US I'll take working on increased infrastructure over working for greater automotive regulation every time. The former has a glimmer of possibility and a modicum of result. The latter, in my view, not so much.

There's nothing wrong, objectively, with the ability to move around the US on a bike, but you will get hit by a driver. I know I have, multiple times. I assume just about everyone here is the same.

So yeah, you're right. It's not the infrastructure, per se, but I don't think overhauling the US licensing process will ever happen. Some protected bike lanes might.
I encountered way more trucks in Japan than I did in the USA, mostly because they still take the old narrow roads because they don't want to pay tolls on the expressways. Beautiful old road wiggling along the coast, through tunnels and suchlike, clogged stupid with trucks while a nearly empty expressway is in sight. Bloody annoying. But still OK because if they hit a cyclist they go to jail. Not a lot of heavy rail there however, coastal shipping replaces that , especially around the inland sea.
But mostly the difference is the strict liability laws, might is not right, even cyclists can go to jail for hitting a pedestrian.
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Old 12-18-20, 11:25 PM
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I think the simple answer is that municipalities will have to get their finances sorted out post-covid before thinking about any infrastructure projects, be it roads or bike lanes. With that said, I think it's going to take a while, maybe years, before people are really comfortable in some crowded facilities such as buses and trains, and gyms. A certain segment of the population who are working remotely will look into doing so permanently, and may adjust their living arrangements to favor localities that support more pleasant outdoor activities. I'm not planning on going back to the office any time soon.
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Old 12-19-20, 01:02 AM
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What if cycling has doubled? Two times a small number is still a small number. Here in California’s elbow cycling is already popular, but the guy above who said it competes with sports (either watched or played) and not cars is dead on the money. Bikes are individual sporting goods. I haven’t checked but I bet sales of deer rifles and kayaks are way up too.
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Old 12-19-20, 04:33 AM
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Maelochs hit the nail on the head (12-18-20 06:19pm post #15) when he mentioned that the New Bicycle Riders from this 2020 Covid-19 PANDEMIC's BICYCLE BOOM do not want to be riding on streets/roads with even moderate automobile traffic. I might be wrong but I believe that this huge bicycle boom population will maintain at least 1/4 of their recreational riding after the Pandemic situation likely resolves in early 2022 if the majority of the population takes the vaccine(s) as it becomes available to them.

What I believe that you will likely see as a long-term byproduct of these "New Bicycle Riders of 2020" is they will likely campaign for vehicle traffic free Areas where people can leisurely ride bicycles without the hassle & risk of riding on trafficked roads/streets. This is going to work against Road cyclists that want Share The Road and first class improvements and enforcement such that road/street conditions significantly improve for "CYCLISTS". What I think you will see over the next decade or fifteen years is a concerted effort to build separate low-speed greenways and bicycle-multi use paths/narrow roads within large municipal parks and ex-railway(former railroad lines) routes. That is where I believe that you will see any allocated local/state/federal funds going to improve cycling in your municipality, assuming that there is enough budget after all other projects that are deemed essential & immediate priorities for the city are funded and underway.
I do think that because of all these "New Bicycle Riders of 2020", you will see the priority status for such "auto traffic free Bicycle/multi use paths-park roads" will rise somewhat from way down on the list of Quality of Life longterm community improvement projects to nearer to the top of the list. As you know, the gears of progress in local goverment and municipal projects often move painfully slow from initial plan to groundbreaking to completion, as funding and changes in members of the county commissioners, and mayor changes over the eight to twenty years it often takes to see fruition of such a Quality of Life improvement in any town. Economic downturns, recessions, natural disasters such as Hurricanes, Floods, Ice Storms, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Blizzards, Wildfires, often force municipalities to shelve or delay or otherwise re-purpose the allocated budget to something more important until things normalize enough. This could take years. Then there are local politics and "favored pet projects" as well as changing opinion of the majority of the taxpayers on what is deemed essential and what is Fat or "pork" that can be trimmed from this years and or next years budget.............................and so it goes................................ every real property owner or homeowner in any town/city knows that there is a 'LIMIT' on what these the contributing members of the local town/city can and will accept in the way of their property taxes. You can bet that your local county commission meetings will see much more massive public attendance and vocal outraged citizens in the event that the milage rate and their local property taxes rise to levels that most of these contributing members-productive property owning taxpayers that make up the largest portion of that city's tax base, find unacceptable and outrageous. Yet, you often see issues caused by corruption and financial incompetance in local goverment from not only departments but the chief stewards such as city manager, tax commissioner, mayor, county commissioners, department heads who sometimes waste much more and occasionally become criminals too. The city funds could get so depleted that only gets discovered two or three years later when a large scope audit discovers the tip of the iceberg.
The thing to realize here is that a huge number of ordinary humans in your community have taken to Bicycle Riding in 2020 and Creating This Bicycle Boom in the era of Covid-19. This number of people outnumbers the "CYCLISTS" in your community. These ordinary newcomers, these "BICYCLE RIDERS" have no allegiance or ties to the roadie "CYCLISTS" that sport the jersey & padded shorts attire and the specific non BSO machinery. This is not to say that a very small percentage of these newcomer BICYCLE RIDERS will adopt the ways of and join the society of CYCLISTS with their road going manners and colorful attire, and more purpose built upscale machinery. I do believe that the legacy of the mass newcomer BICYCLE RIDERS during this Covid-19 era Bike Boom is gonna have long-term implications for the advancement of Bicycling Without Automobile Traffic, rather than Cycling on trafficked roads/streets. This may hurt the public adoption of 'SHARE THE ROAD' as these new BICYCLE RIDERS seem to prefer segregation and don't seem as sympathetic towards the 'SHARE THE ROAD' philosophy. It is hard to tell for sure since it may just be that the 2020 boom BICYCLE RIDERS are more risk averse that they don't find it safe enough to ride on busy streets/roads and they don't enjoy riding such streets/roads because they deem it too unsafe-dangerous to ride there..................& many of them, possibly most of them, may actually believe that bicycles don't belong on those streets/roads ...(automobile traffic & bicycles shouldn't mix...........................after all these folks are all automobile/pickup/SUV/sportscar/motorhome owners-drivers and just their behavior, the unwillingness to ride on trafficked streets leads one to believe that they do share the philosophy of the majority of automobile/SUV/pickup..etc Drivers on the road today that Cyclists have no business riding on roads............silly adults and nutcases-dumbasses that want to commute slowly on a bike should buy and drive a car, or stop getting DUI convictions and losing their drivers license.......Get Off the f@#%ing road with that stupid bicycle as you're old enough to have a drivers license, you stupid moron, you're holding up traffic, the roads are made for cars....... ----------WE HAVE ALL HEARD THE VOCAL a-HOLES THAT BEEP THE HORN AND GIVE US THE MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE-----------------------------------------------------------------------well my guess is that some if not most of these 2020 Covid-19 boom BICYCLE RIDERS were more in that crowd before getting on a bicycle again in 2020, than of the share the road belief. UNLESS THIS MINDSET CHANGES, YOU WILL CONTINUE TO SEE A CONCERTED PUSH FOR SEGREGATION AND THE ANTI SHARE THE ROAD MENTALLITY WILL CONTINUE, IF NOT GROW. I do think these 2020 boom Bicycle Riders will continue leisurely after the Covid-19 Pandemic resolves sometime in early 2022. Why do I think so? Well, because of the the long extended period of time ( 9months) that these folks so far have continued to ride a bicycle for amusement/recreation/enjoyment/exercise that I do believe some 25% will continue to use their bikes as I think the family outing, low impact exercise and the fact that it is easy enough to do once one gets acclimated to leisurely riding for fun. It is also low cost assuming one obtains a basic bicycle and provides minimal care for it. Lets face certain facts and that is typical American couch potatoes don't like exercise or maintaining an acceptable waist line, but now that many have had fun and joy on bikes during 2020 because of a lack of other entertainment choices, etc, that some will continue because it is easy enough and low impact and above all, it can be fun, and if you do ride leisurely regularly, it will probably beneficial in improving your health immediately if you're a couch potato. One does not have to ride fast or ride very far to benefit from bicycle riding. One does not need a fancy bike as any old or inexpensive new Walmart bike will do. One just needs to ride some often enough to benefit. One does not need to be a bikeforums member riding a "proper" bicycle from a LBS.................., there are many Walmartians riding many happy miles in 2020 on their new under-rated, better than you'd think BSO specials. These are the folks that have comprised the majority of the 2020 Bicycle Boom BICYCLE RIDERS. This is good as more folks enjoying riding bicycles is always great. Like the Sly sang, ...different strokes for different folks........
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Old 12-19-20, 06:46 AM
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Kapusta
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Unfortunately, the COVID bike boom also came with the COVID recession that decimated state and local budgets.

Right now I think our city is going to be more interested is housing and feeding people and helping businesses pick up the pieces than building cycling infrastructure.

Of course, there is a possibility of a Federal infrastructure program, but we’ll have to see how the Georgia Senate election goes to see if that is even remotely possible.
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