The United States has seen quite the bike boom over the last decade or so, and it doesn’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 “new”, so some new cyclists may not think to use them, and drivers may think it doubles as a parking space as well.
I’ve experienced the tension from both ends. It’s incredibly frightening when some girl on her cell phone makes a right turn on red without looking and doesn’t see you on your bike, and it’s just as frightening to pull out of a parking garage and almost hit a cyclist because they don’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 City’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.