Bicycles – Poised for a Comeback
ambience: bicycle riding, bell
In the United States, most people see a bicycle as a recreational vehicle, but the bike is poised to make a come-back as a means of commuting to work. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Buehler: So, countrywide, cycling still only accounts for about 1 percent of all trips.
Ralph Buehler is an Associate Professor in Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech.
Buehler: But in certain cities, such as Portland, the share of regular commuters riding a bike increased from 1 percent in 1990 to about 6 percent today. In Minneapolis, the similar trend happened, from 1 percent to about 4 percent today, even given the cold temperatures there.
Europeans have a longer history with the bicycle as a main mode of transportation.
Buehler: So, in the Netherlands today, about one-quarter of all trips in the entire country are made by bicycle. In Denmark, that’s between 16 and 18 percent, and even in a car-oriented country, like Germany, you get about 9 to 10 percent of all trips by bicycle.
So what’s keeping more Americans from riding bikes?
Buehler: There are many factors that influence people in their decision to cycle or not to cycle. A key factor for many European cities has been to provide separate bicycle infrastructure: bike lanes that’s a stripe of paint on the roadway or physically separated bicycle facilities alongside roadways. Also includes speed limits for cars low enough for bicycles to share with cars. A big factor why people report not cycling is the fear of traffic danger, and we find most people view these separate facilities more positively than cycling in traffic with cars.
In the US, about 75 percent of cyclists are males. In Europe it’s an even 50 – 50 split between men and women. We’ll hear more about bicycles in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.