Sunday, March 30, 2008

Warmth excites bicyclists in Wisconsin

Bicyclist in Madison, Wisconsin
From the Capitol Times (Madison, WI), 03.30.08:

Bikers gear up as spring is upon us
Along with the first tentative rays of spring sun, flocks of fair-weather bikers are coming out of hibernation. Madisonians are hauling out their bikes for tune-ups, greasing up the chains and stretching out the spandex.

"We've had a big rush as soon as the first day of warm weather," said Eric Lyngaas, a salesman at Willy Street Bikes. "The first warm weekend hits, we get inundated with repairs, and our service department has been extremely busy. It's been pretty backed up in general."

Bike store employees cite a combination of escalating gas prices, an increase in the range and affordability of bikes, and an overall spread of bike culture as key factors in the increasingly wide spectrum of people using bikes for recreation and commuting.

"For a long time the bike industry has been ruled by competitive road-riding professionals, now it's more accessible to everyone and more a part of the culture," said Taylor Struwe, pulling a metallic blue cruiser from the rack for a customer to test drive. "With higher gas prices, people are just gonna ride two wheels. It's enjoyable, it's good exercise, minimal maintenance and far more economical than cars."

(Luke Clark of Machinery Row Bicycles)...noted that people are experimenting with trading in their four-wheeled transport for two. "A lot of people come in and say, 'We're looking to go from a three car to a one car family, we want two good commuter bikes.' Those types come out in fairer weather," Clark said. "There's a trend of people getting out of their cars." (Read more.)
With the approach of spring, thoughts turn to bicycling (and baseball, of course.) This article is another example of the storyline this year on bikes: higher fuel prices are causing more people to consider bike commuting. And an interesting comments section, with the usual back-and-forth between drivers ("bikes belong on sidewalks") and bicyclists, and a lengthy flame war among the pedaling contingent over the merits of a local bike shop. As a veteran of numerous flame wars on the SFBike listserve, I know that nobody can split hairs with as much venom as bicyclists.

Image: Rob Lambert.
Visit: Wisconsin’s commuters parking cars in favor of bikes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit: Fuel prices creating bike commuters, Wisconsin Radio Network
Visit: Is bicycling a possibility for commuting in Madison?, Madison Leader
Visit: Bikers ready to roll, Sheboygan Press
Visit: Winter cold no obstacle to bike commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

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