The United States has seen quite the bike boom over the last decade or so, and it doesnâ€™t look to be slowing down anytime soon. According to the Christian Science Monitor, bike commuting grew by 47% nationwide between 2000 and 2011. Unsurprisingly, it was Portland, Oregon that took the lead with 250% growth, followed by Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and New York City.
Still, only 1% of Americans are biking on the regular, compared to 26% of people in the Netherlands, 10% of Germans, and 19% of the Danish population. The growth in the United States is of course still positive, and a great indication that there will be widespread public support as more cities begin to integrate cycling into the transportation grid.
One of the biggest struggles is going to be creating a grid that allows bikes and cars to more efficiently share the road. As the CSM article mentions, there are a lot of issues between the two groups that make cycling incredibly dangerous for both parties. Bike lanes are relatively â€œnewâ€, so some new cyclists may not think to use them, and drivers may think it doubles as a parking space as well.
Iâ€™ve experienced the tension from both ends. Itâ€™s incredibly frightening when some girl on her cell phone makes a right turn on red without looking and doesnâ€™t see you on your bike, and itâ€™s just as frightening to pull out of a parking garage and almost hit a cyclist because they donâ€™t feel the need to look before zooming past the door at lightning speed.
The biggest benefit to more bike riders is that there will be more of a reason to invest in bike sharing programs like New York Cityâ€™s recently launched Citibike, which will hopefully get more people out of their cars and onto a bike for their commute. Fewer cars, less fumes, more exercise. What have we got to lose?
Do you think we will see a boom in bike sharing programs across the United States?
Image CC licensed by Dennis Crowley: Citibike in New York City.