Although the US is a long way from Europe in terms of bicycle use, it has made progress in recent years — especially in cities.
The Christian Science Monitor is reporting in its July 1 issue:
• Commuting by bicycle was up 47 percent in the US from 2000 to 2011.
• 18 new cities will set up bike-sharing networks in the US this year--a 50 percent increase over 2012.
• Some cities have made relatively more progress. In Portland, Oregon, bicycle commuting has risen 250 percent from 2000-2011, while it has gained 166 percent in Washington, DC, and 140 percent in Anchorage, Alaska.
• Biking fatalities as a percentage of overall traffic deaths have risen, but only because traffic fatalities as a whole have dropped. Bicycle fatalities peaked in 2005 at 786 nationwide, even as the number of bicyclists on the road has risen.
The wave of bicycling is being driven by public policy in cities, the Monitor reports. One reason is that investing in bicycling increases mobility without breaking the bank.
Long Beach, California, has invested heavily in bicycling, including a new bicycle renting system with 250 locations, bicycle lanes, bike racks, and special traffic lights that sense riders. The entire system cost $25 million, "most of it paid for by a federal grants." Compare that to highways or interchanges that cost hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and New York's new subway line, the first phase of which costs $4.45 billion.
Bicycling is being supported largely in urban places like Portland, New York City, Seattle, Long Beach, and Boulder, Colorado. It goes hand in hand with walkability. The growing bicycling industry, like the car-share industry, has an interest in supporting walkable places. At some point, the current wave of bicycling will be limited by the number of walkable communities in the US, if the rise in walkability does not keep pace with the rise in the bicycle and car-share industries.
Image credit: Cyclists look out from the Marquam Bridge in Portland, Ore., during an annual ‘bridge pedal’ event that takes riders over 10 spans in the city. Rick Bowmer/AP/File
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