New Recruits: May is just around the corner, and so the creeper approaches: National Bike to Work Month! And, like every fun-loving, zero-emissions, two-wheeled, “coffee + eggs = bike fuel”, transportation cyclist, I always wonder if this year’s Bike to Work Month will bring new commuter faces beyond the month of May. Yes Velodactyls, this is what keeps me up at night (either that or the heaping tablespoons of Nutella I shoved in my face post-dinner).
How can we get more people to commute by bike? May 2012 will be a barrage of Bike to Work Week challenges, workshops, rallies, and bikey SWAG, as local bike organizations shotgun their way through possible Spring recruits. Our own star staff writer Elizabeth posed the question in 2010: We all know bike commuting is the best thing since the Jammy Shuffle, so why aren’t more people doing it? I gotta admit, I’m on bike commuting like a woman on smack, so I surely don’t know the answer!
Minority Report: As the minority, commuter cyclists face the same puzzled looks from co-workers, semi-sweet concerned lectures from loved ones, and blatant stares of calf envy (hello Mr. Officer, I’m up HERE) as we think to ourselves – if only you’d know the glories of the dark side, you’d be out of excuses and on a bike too! Nevertheless, we’ve had some progress. Last year, this Atlantic Cities article reported increased bike ridership across the U.S. (If you like colorful graphs, you should definitely click the link to this article).
Converting to bicycle commuting is all the rage in U.S. cities, if the proliferation of blogs devoted to the topic is any indication. But we wanted to know: Just how big have increases in the percentage of bike commuters been in specific cities? Are there regional differences? Cities where bike commuting isn’t catching on at all? We surveyed 55 major U.S. cities to see if we could find the answer. While there are stark differences across individual cities, taken as a group these metros saw an average increase in their percentage of regular bicycle commuters of 70 percent between 2000 and 2009.
The chart-laden article concluded that Portland had the highest percentage of trips taken by bike at 5.8% with a 222% increase from 2000 to 2009 (Don’t make me graph battle you, Portland.) I can say for my office, the percentage of riders has increased since I started three years ago from 1 out of 16 to 6 out of 16! HUZZAH!
So, we all agree we need more bike commuters on the road to alleviate traffic congestion, stress, obesity, arthritis, pollution, drugs, guns, high fructose corn syrup, and other bad stuff (we can solve world peace with transportation cycling, right!!?)
My question today is what got you pedaling? We weren’t all born on fetus-sized bikes so it had to start somewhere! A lot of bike commuters have shared our first bicycle memories, but what converted you to utility cycling? Was it a Bike to Work Month challenge, an enthusiastic bike-loving friend, a hand-me-down bike, a car in the shop, or an inspirational blog on bike commuting (hint, hint!)? Safety in numbers means that bike commuters need more bike commuters! So, muse along with us and share your thoughts!
~Happy Friday Bike Commuters.