Friday, June 27, 2008

Is Britain really getting on its bike?

Image of bicyclist in London
From The Independent (UK), 06.27.08:

The Big Question: Is Britain really getting on its bike and turning into a nation of cyclists?
Why are we asking this now?

Because cycling's time has come--or so it seems from a flurry of initiatives sweeping the country as politicians and planners wake up to what is increasingly seen as the transport of the future.

Gordon Brown has now adopted the cause, yesterday pledging his support for a festival of cycling in Newham in east London next year--the latest in a number of big cycling events associated with the capital, all of which reinforce the message that the activity has a central role to play in people's lives. "The place of cycling in our society is set to grow, and I am committed to doing everything possible to encourage that," the Prime Minister said.

And are people really taking to their bikes?

The picture is somewhat mixed. They certainly are in London, where a combination of circumstances has led to an astonishing 91 per cent increase in the amount of cycling since 2000. There was surge in uptake following the terrorist attacks of 7 July 2005, but the trend was already upward, a response to the increasing congestion of London's streets, the discomfort and unpredictable journey times on public transport, and the realisation that cycling was both the healthy and environmentally responsible option. A steady if not dramatic improvement in cycling infrastructure in the capital has also encouraged people on to two wheels.

Nationally, the situation is rather different. The latest figures from the Department for Transport show that the overall number of cycle trips has fallen slightly, down from an average of 17 trips per person in 2000 to 16 in 2006. The average cyclist made six trips a week by bicycle in 2006, spending just under two hours in the saddle and covering 14 miles. But within this rather static overall picture, there are clear signs that where towns make a big effort to encourage cycling, the public will respond. (Read more.)
Inspiring article from "across the pond," detailing the national conversation underway in the U.K. on bicycling. It indicates the low mode share for bicycling presently, far below the rates seen in other European countries, such as the Netherlands and Denmark. And details many recent innovations, such as those initiated in London and the development of "demonstration towns" where transport policy is shifted to encourage bicycling.

Imagine if the President of the U.S. spoke so enthusiastically about bicycling for transportation. There are hints that one candidate might be receptive to shifting transportation policies toward bikes. I have no hope the present administration intends anything other than continued oil dependence.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Massive rise in London cyclists, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Times of London acknowledges "the stick", Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Get on your bikes, the green Prince of Wales tells staff, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Massachusetts: Bicycle shops reap windfall


From the Brockton Enterprise (MA), 06.27.08:

Bicycle shops reap windfall from soaring gasoline prices
WHITMAN—The Bike Barn in Whitman has seen a serious spike in business recently as people driven by high gas prices come in to fix up old mountain bikes they’ve neglected over the years.

Owner Kevin Chichlowski said commuters are scrambling to find a cheaper way to get to work as gas hovers around $4 a gallon. “What’s fashionable right now is to ride a bike to the commuter rail (station),” he said. “Anyone with an old mountain bike is getting it cleaned up and ready for the road.”

Many local bicycle shop owners say they’ve had their busiest spring in history. People are dusting off their 20-year-old Schwinns and Raleighs, generating increased tune-up work. And sales of new bikes are inching up, with many buyers choosing hybrids that combine elements of mountain and road bikes.

Even with the high gas prices, (Joe Travis of Travis Cycle in Taunton) doesn’t see this as a culture shift yet. “These are just the early thinkers right now,” he said. “I think we’re probably a dollar or two a gallon away before we see the kind of shift we’re talking about.” (Read more.)
This story (surging business at bike shops) is getting a little stale. I'd really like to see a few new angles: Who's buying the bikes? Were high gas prices the only motivation? What other barriers did they have to bicycle commuting? What are the challenges on their route that policy makers might want to address? What kinds of things might make commuting by bike easier for them (parking, showers, bike lanes, etc.)?

I'm a Massachusetts native, from Boston's South Shore, near Brockton. I'm pleased to see growing interest in bicycling there, because cars have long dominated. And, early in my career, I was a stringer for the Brockton Enterprise. So, of course I have to post this article. But I would like to see the media discourse broaden, and begin to challenge local transportation priorities that favor automobiles.

Visit: Energy required (but no fossil fuels), News Record (Gillette, WY)
Visit Pedal power surges, Ipswich Chronicle (MA)
Visit: Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Visit: Massachusetts: Bike shops on a roll, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Massachusetts: Bicycling surges, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Massachusetts: bike commuting's myriad benefits, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Florida: Cyclists flocking to trains

Image of Tri-Rail train car in Florida
From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Broward County), 06.24.08:

More people are bringing bicycles along on their mass transit commutes
Brad Whidden figures he saves $65 a month on gas by riding his bike and taking the train to work in Fort Lauderdale. The 44-year-old emergency medical technician...says the exercise and environmental benefits also are good, even if leaving his car at home adds an hour and a half to his commute.

"I don't have to sit in traffic; my car doesn't have to sit in the sun," said Whidden, who started riding his bike about 30 miles a week to work a few months ago.

Whidden is part of a growing number of cyclists that Tri-Rail and bus officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties have noticed coming aboard recently. Fuel costs are a big reason, Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold said. "Where you used to see two to three bikes in a [rail] car, now you see six to seven," Arnold said.

Ralph Cunningham, 55, started riding his bike to work in Boca Raton years ago to stay healthy. On weekdays, Cunningham bikes eight miles and rides Tri-Rail to the church where he works in maintenance and food service.

Cunningham said the number of bike commuters on Tri-Rail jumped around the time gas prices hit $3 a gallon. "Sometimes it's hard to get on here now," he said. (Read more.)
Encouraging article from Florida, showing the growth in multi-modal travel isn't limited to rail lines I'm familiar with such as California's Caltrain or Capitol Corridor. The article features several Flash videos, and comments from bike shops about the shift in consumer demands for more commuting accessories.

When you speak to your Congressperson this election year, also demand better transit funding--especially passenger rail--in addition to more money for bike facilities.

Images: Web capture.
Visit: Florida Bicycle Association
Visit: National Association of Railroad Passengers
Visit: Florida: Bicycles more popular, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Miami getting friendlier for cyclists, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Make Miami a bicycle friendly city, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Monday, June 23, 2008

Slow news day: Bike blogger profiled

Image of bicyclist Paul Dorn
From the Davis Enterprise (CA), 06.23.08:

Commuter cycle
Bike guru’s Web site offers tips on daily trips

It was a distaste for sitting in traffic that got Paul Dorn on a bicycle. Commuting from his house to his job in San Francisco took two Muni transfers and about 90 minutes.

These days, people are disgusted by gas vehicles because they pollute, contribute to obesity and the big ones can take two credit cards just to fill up. Luckily for those who have had it up to here, Dorn not only wanted to learn to commute by bicycle, but also to learn how to design a Web site.

In 1997, he launched Paul Dorn’s Bike Commute Tips, a Web site that has seen its traffic triple in the past year. Typing “bike commute” into Google.com brings Dorn’s site up fourth. “Bike commuting” shows it in the first slot.

“All I wanted was to say ‘Hey, Mom, I’ve got a Web site,’ ” he said. “That was exciting 10, 12 years ago. Then it started to get picked up.” Now, he fields questions and comments from people all over the world who are trying to make it as bike commuters in less hospitable places than Davis or Sacramento.


“I’ve been cycling for four years in Nashville, TN (possibly the US’s most unfriendly biking community),” wrote one reader. “I’ve begun to commute to work. I really have appreciated reading your tips and blog.”

USA Today contacted Dorn for a comment on rising gas prices for a story in May, and the U.S. News and World Report tracked him down for a quote just a week or so ago.

Dorn lives near Sacramento’s Midtown and rides his bicycle and public transportation to his job at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center every day, even on most of the cold, dark winter days.

“I could bike both ways since I work at a health club and there’s a shower, but inevitably I forget socks,” he said. Dorn, who was a member of the San Francisco Bike Coalition when Critical Mass was born, now advocates for more bike-friendly cities and for great bike cities to get better.

“I point to Davis on my blog frequently as an example of a community that has been very wise in investing in bicycling infrastructure,” he said. “What Davis has demonstrated is that if you build it, they will come.”

Nonetheless, he said, “Davis can’t afford to rest on its laurels. I would like to see Davis continue to be a pioneer.”
Until this year, Davis was the only platinum level Bicycle Friendly Community in the U.S. Covering a city with one of the highest bicycling mode shares in the country, the Davis Enterprise does a commendable job reporting on bikes and giving space to bicyclists on its op-ed pages. This is the entire story and two photos; content on the Enterprise website is only available to subscribers.

(I don't consider myself a "guru." There are at least 100 people in Davis alone who know more about bicycling than I do. What I've done is to use the web to help keep bike commuters inspired and informed.)

Images: Sue Cockrell/Davis Enterprise. Bike blogger Paul Dorn; stickers on Dorn's bicycle.
Visit: Cycling in Bike-Friendly Davis
Visit: Davis retains platinum status as bike capital, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Davis commemorates 50 years of bicycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Watch out Davis, your monopoly on platinum may end, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
For the record: I am a former visual art critic for the Davis Enterprise.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Up yours Big Oil, I'll bicycle

Image of customer Alberta Casto at The Bike Shop
From the Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, OH), 06.18.08:

Bicycle sales rising to offset cost at pump
Business is booming at local bicycle shops as more and more residents are opting to peddle instead of pump. "As soon as gasoline hit $4 per gallon, that was the tipping point," said Mike Chappell, owner of The Bike Shop in Lancaster.

Sales of adult bicycles are up 50 percent to 60 percent compared to this same time in 2007. Repairs also have increased 20 percent to 25 percent. "People are saying, 'Those SOBs (at the oil companies) can suck down their gasoline. I'll ride a bike,' " Chappell said.

The majority of the bicycles sold were commuter bikes such as the Giant Cypress, a lightweight hybrid bicycle designed for use on paved paths and roads. "For commuting, it's a good choice," Chappell said.

The model is so popular it sells out each week. "I can't keep them on the floor. They're sold before they come in," said Chappell, who had just two left in stock Monday afternoon. (Read more.)
A story from Ohio further demonstrating the flight of gas price refugees to bike shops. I couldn't resist that "those SOBs" comment.

Image: Eagle-Gazette. Customer Alberta Casto at The Bike Shop.
Visit: High gas prices have people seeking other ways to get around town, Telegraph (North Platte, NE)
Visit: Bikes made for commuting are hot!, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bikes made for commuting are hot!

Image of a Breezer Villager bicycle
From U.S. News & World Report, 06.21.08:

Comfy New Commuter Bikes for Getting Around Town
Neither age nor inexperience need be a barrier to biking

If $4-a-gallon gas has you looking for relief, consider: A concerted effort is underway to attract casual bike riders into the fold. The lure is a range of new commuting bikes that promise to make everyday travel by bicycle as comfortable and fashionable as it is cheap...

In a country where most grown-ups regard bicycles as kid stuff, there are plenty of signs that attitudes are beginning to shift. Bike stores and manufacturers across the nation are reporting significant upticks lately in sales. "They're selling out of all the commuting bikes--all bikes, by the way--that they can get their hands on," says Bill Fields, a consultant who has followed the bicycle industry for decades and anticipates a 20 percent bump in the "comfort bike" category, which includes commuting bikes, by year's end.

Though old hat in many European and Asian countries, commuter bikes, which run generally between $400 and $800, are foreign to many Americans. A cousin to the mountain bike in the sense that it puts riders in an upright position, as opposed to the aerodynamic crouch of the racing or road bike, the commuter bike is more comfortable than either type of sport bike. Its tires tend to be large but smooth and perform better than rugged mountain bike tires on pavement; its wide seat distributes pressure more evenly than the narrow seats on sport bikes; and its ergonomically designed handlebars are curved back slightly for comfort.

Most commuter bikes come with lights and bells, a basket or rack on the back for a briefcase or groceries, and mud flaps and an enclosed chain guard to protect clothes from grease or tears. Some even come with pedal-powered electrical generators that operate lights. (Read more.)
Great article on the increased availability of bicycles made for commuting. Led (dragged?) by pioneers Joe Breeze (Breezer Bikes) and John Burke (Trek), the bicycle industry is waking up to the huge potential for sales of commuting bikes. Even seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has become a prominent advocate for bicycle commuting.

Image: Breezer Villager.
Visit: Commuter bikes in vogue, Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Visit: Suggestions for Buying a Bike, Bike Commuting Tips
Visit: Get comfortable on a new bike, Bike Commuting Tips Blog
Visit: Buying a bike: New or used?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Massachusetts: Bike shops on a roll

Paul Anderson, owner of Anderson Bicycle in Quincy, Massachusetts
From Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), 06.21.08:

A dollar drain for motorists has translated into a windfall for bicycle shops as gas prices force more commuters out of their cars and onto two-wheelers.

Many local bicycle shop owners say they’ve had their busiest spring in history. People are dusting off their 20-year-old Schwinns and Raleighs, generating increased tune-up work. And sales of new bikes are inching up, with many buyers choosing hybrids that combine elements of mountain and road bikes.

“I thought the tipping point was going to be $4 a gallon,” said Jim Quinn, owner of the Bicycle Link in Weymouth. “What’s noticeable is we’re getting a lot more bikes out of the shed with the cobwebs.”

Paul Anderson, owner of Anderson Bicycle in Quincy, has new customers coming in daily to buy a new bike or asking him to refurbish an old bike. Anderson said repairs are up nearly 50 percent over last year. “They’re getting them out of the shed and tuning them up,” Anderson said. (Read more.)
Interesting article from Boston's South Shore suburbs, featuring comments from several local bike shops and the National Bicycle Dealers Association. More evidence of the favorable trend, and that the bike industry is waking up to the market potential of cycling commuters. (For the record, early in my post-collegiate career, I was a stringer for the Patriot Ledger.)

Image: Patriot Ledger. Paul Anderson, owner of Anderson Bicycle.
Visit: Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Visit: Massachusetts: Bicycle shops reap windfall, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: More Mainers Are Choosing To Bike To Work, WCSH-TV
Visit: Massachusetts: Bicycling surges, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Massachusetts: bike commuting's myriad benefits, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bike station needed at MBTA, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Toronto: Cycling and the cinema

Image of Critical Mass in Toronto
From the National Post (Toronto, Ontario) 06.21.08:

Q & A with Celeste Koon: Cycling and the cinema
(National Post): Do you take an interest in cycling as less of a physical activity and more of a community-based form of environmental and social activism?

(Celeste Koon): I am interested in cycling in so many different ways! Not only are cyclists a whole community on their own, but cycling itself is all about exploration of communities. On a bike, you are not restricted to highways and major roadways, so you can discover the city’s little pockets, from the more obvious Annex and Kensington Market to discovering the best gelato in Little Italy or riding through a street celebration in Little India.

The cycling community is a united force with similar ideals for a more sustainable and livable future. Toronto is a young city — its history is now, and we are part of it. The doc (Pedal Power: Critical Mass Toronto) is deeply concerned with the structuring of a more sustainable and communal Toronto. We are living in an era where positive change is an achievable goal, and Pedal Power shows that a sustainable future will be a beautiful one.

And of course, cycling is a great form of physical activity that keeps your blood pumping and gives you a sense of adventure. (Read more.)
Interview with young Toronto filmmaker Celeste Koon, who presented her new film Pedal Power: Critical Mass Toronto at this weekend's Bicycle Film Festival.

In a post a couple years ago, The unbearable dearth of cinematic cycling, I lamented the lack of bicycle presence in mainstream media, especially films. Thanks to record fuel prices, that is starting to change as news media discover the latent demand for bicycling. And the internet provides an opportunity to represent our side of the traffic and cultural equation, as with the fantastic work of the talented folks at StreetFilms.org.

Winning respect for bicycling requires more than painted stripes on pavement. Greater numbers of bicyclists are helping to increase respect on the street. And greater presence in the cultural discourse is also necessary. It's encouraging to see young filmmakers making a contribution to bicycling.

Image: Web Capture. Toronto Critical Mass.
Visit: The unbearable dearth of cinematic cycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bicycling against car culture, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Zen and the Art of Bike Commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Found money: The bike commuting bonus

Image of coins near a bicyle tire on the street
Yesterday on my bike commute I found two quarters on the street, which I stopped and pocketed. As I write on my Bike Commute Tips website, I frequently find money in the street during my daily commute. Mostly coins, occasionally some bills. Once in San Francisco I found a wad of bills that totaled $463, which I banked after unsuccessful attempts to return it (posted flyers, Craigslist ad.) I don't stop for pennies, but depending on traffic and my haste, I'll stop for nickels, dimes, quarters.

How about you? What treasures have you found in the street during your bike commute?

Image: Paul Dorn.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chicago: More commuters choose to pedal

Image of crowded bike rack at Metra station
From the Chicago Tribune, 06.14.08:

More commuters choose to pedal right past pumps
When Chris Glynn's Ford Explorer was totaled in an accident last year, his first thought was to replace it with another Ford, or maybe a Honda, for daily commutes and trips to the store. But after browsing car lots and watching the numbers at the gas station roll higher and higher, he turned to a different option: his bicycle.

"Given the way gas prices were going, the way traffic is, the difficulty of parking, I realized a car just wasn't that cost-effective," said Glynn, 41, a 5th-grade teacher in Bucktown. "So I never got around to buying another car."

To judge by the packs of cyclists streaming down Milwaukee Avenue every morning, the overstuffed bike racks at suburban train stations and the cash registers of area bike shops, many in the Chicago area appear to be choosing life in the bike lane this summer.

Bike shop owners around the region say business is booming, including sales of commuter-style bikes and accessories—baskets, racks and attire-protecting fenders—that suggest uses that are as much functional as fun. Requests for service are also up. (Read more.)
Great report from Chicago, where last week's Bicycle Commuter Challenge attracted 8,000 new commuters at 350 companies, an increase from last year's 205 participants. Bike lanes are crowded, bike shop sales are booming, and bike racks at the region's Metra transit stations are overflowing.

The Tribune website features several related stories, including a helpful bicycle commuting how-to, based on insights from local cyclists.

Image: Chicago Tribune.
Visit: Chicagoland Bicycle Federation
Visit: Elburn promoting biking to train station, The Beacon News
Visit: Chicago: Commuter Challenge promotes bicycling, Bike Commuting Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Los Angeles: Make bicycling a priority

Image of Orange Line Bike Path in Los Angeles
From the Los Angeles Times, 06.15.08:

Another run at biking in L.A.
With traffic congestion worsening and gasoline prices continuing to rise, it's no longer necessary to stage an event to show that the bicycle is a serious transit option. Dozens of newspaper articles and blogs report that an increasing number of commuters across the country are leaving their cars in the garage and using other forms of transportation, especially bicycles, to get to the store, school, bus or rail stop, even to work...

Unfortunately, the increased interest in the bicycle as a commuting option exceeds the city's capacity to handle it. L.A.'s bike-riding infrastructure--bike lanes and dedicated bike boulevards--is abysmal and compares poorly with those in cities such as Portland, according to a recent Urban and Environmental Policy Institute study, a research and advocacy organization based at Occidental College. For instance, about 6% of Portland's 3,949 miles of street lanes are for bikes, compared with just 0.6% of L.A.'s 28,000 miles of street lanes.

For a bicycle to become a viable mode of travel in L.A., we need to do a number of things. First, we need to build more bikeways, create more bike lanes on surface streets and install more bike racks near transit stops. Transportation planners need to more fully integrate biking with public transit. (Read more.)
Important op-ed by Robert Gottlieb, author of Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City. LA has been making slow progress to encourage bicycling in recent years. A significant shift in bicycling mode share in LA would be a huge sign of a tipping point away from cars in the U.S.

Image: Web capture. Orange Line Bike Path in Los Angeles
Visit: L.A. measures aimed at aiding bicycle=riding commuters, Los Angeles Daily News
Visit: Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Visit: C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange)
Visit: Bikes in the city: Cycle safe with C.I.C.L.E., Los Angeles Times
Visit: Bicycling "arrives" in car-crazy Los Angeles, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: LA: Bikeway, not highway, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bicycling hazardous in Los Angeles, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

New Haven: Bike commuting catches on

mage of bicylists near Sherman's Alley in New Haven, CT
From WTNH-TV (New Haven), 06.13.08:

Getting to work with pedal power
Biking to work has already become popular among people trying to go green, but with gas prices going sky-high, people are doing it to save some green.

Alienne Morrione of Bridgeport is a modern day multi-tasker. "Now you can get your exercise and your commute and save money and save the environment all in one shot," she said. Morrione, does it all during her daily bike commute between her home in Bridgeport and job in New Haven.

"I use this bag, which can contain a full suit, it has four hangers, it keeps them perfectly pressed. When it's long you put them in," Morrione said while describing her bag. "The sides contain everything you have for your tools for the bike in case I get a flat."

"There's two kinds of green, your wallet and the environment, and both of them are really important," said Morrione. That's why she said she'll take two wheels over four any day. (Read more, includes video.)
Interesting report from New Haven, which celebrated Bike to Work Day on June 13. One commuter shows off her bicycling garment bag, an important accessory for bike commuters who need suits. A spokesperson for a local bike shop says commuting accessories are flying of the store's shelves.

Another commuter uses a folding bike combined with the train: "A few times a week people are like, 'oh that's so cool. You just fold that up,'" she said.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Elm City Cycling
Visit: 2008 Knog Neat Dog Rackless Pannier/Garment Bag Black
Visit: Connecticut cyclists fight for train access, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Connecticut bike commuters on tee vee, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bike-Sharing Gets Smart

Image of SmartBike station in Washington DC
From Time, 06.12.08

Bike-Sharing Gets Smart
With gas prices skyrocketing and carbon-footprint consciousness going mainstream, more and more cities are betting that Americans are finally ready to make biking part of their daily commute. Denver and Minneapolis will also kick off bike-sharing programs this summer, and Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Seattle, and Arlington, Va., are in talks to launch their versions within the next year or so.

Why the renewed interest? One word: Vélib. Paris launched the Vélib program a year ago, and while très cheap (its name is French shorthand for "free bike"), it's actually not free. Although places like Copenhagen, Lyons (sic) and Barcelona are big on bike-sharing, the City of Lights boasts the crème de la crème, with 20,600 bikes and about 1,450 stations--four times the number of Parisian metro stops. It's hard to walk more than two blocks without running into a bike rack, which helps explain why the program has already yielded a 5% drop in car traffic. Paris has also removed lots of parking spots to make way for bike stations. (Read more.)
Great article in an important national news outlet, on the growing interest in bike-sharing in many North American cities. Planners in Minneapolis and Denver will offer pilot bike-sharing programs during the Republican and Democratic national conventions, a great opportunity to showcase how technology (key-card locking systems and anti-theft GPS tracking devices) makes mass bike-sharing more practical than past "Yellow Bike" type programs.

Denver mayor John Hickenlooper is among the enthusiasts for bike-sharing, according to this article, having added 850 miles of bike lanes to city streets. "Whatever it takes. I want to get people excited about biking so that it becomes part of our social currency."

Image: Web capture.
Visit: SmartBike
Visit: Downtown Denver starts new bike-loan program, Examiner.com
Visit: Citywide Bicycle Sharing Program Launched Today, BikeDenver
Visit: As oil prices soar, for-hire bikes make US debut, Agence France-Presse
Visit: The Bike-sharing Blog
Visit: More love for Paris Vélib, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bikes beat gas pumps, again.

Image of bicyclist taking a cell phone call, standing on the sidewalk next to his bike
From Reuters, 06.12.08:

U.S. cities promote bicycling as gas prices soar
U.S. cities that have long promoted bicycle use by commuters are now seeing a steady rise in the popularity of pedal power as gasoline prices soar. Campaigns originally designed to cut down on traffic and pollution are now paying off for people looking for an option to driving with national gas prices averaging a record $4 per gallon.

People in cities such as Chicago, Washington and Portland, Oregon, can take advantage of bicycle lanes, bike-friendly transit systems and bike-parking locations built in recent years. "Twelve years ago, I would bike down to City Hall and often it was a lonely ride," said Ben Gomberg, Chicago's bicycle program coordinator. "Today, there are often 17 or 18 riders stopped at the intersections." (Read more.)
The story remains the same: "People are pulling away from gas pumps and into the bike shop." Record fuel prices are dominating the news these days, and many media outlets are discovering bicycles as an alternative to driving. This wire service story examines those cities that have previously created supportive bicycle infrastructure, and how those facilities are now paying off and crowding with new riders.

Will this trend toward bicycles (and transit) continue? Can bicyclists be complacent and simply watch our numbers swell? Not at all. Some suggest that the recent rapid gas price escalation is largely due to commodity speculation and oil company price gouging. Gas prices could moderate in the short term--even if the long term trend is toward diminishing supplies and increasing cost. (The whole emerging China and India motoring class in their cheap Tatas thing...)

Bicyclists have a media spotlight right now. We should capitalize on this attention to promote our fun, healthy and efficient commute mode. Just riding everyday is a big part, being an inspiration and model to our colleagues, a presence to motorists. And supporting bicycle advocacy organizations is another big part. If you're not a member already, join the League of American Bicyclists now. With your support, maybe LAB and its allies might finally pass the long-overdue Bicycle Commuter Act.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: High gas prices drive movement toward bicycling, KSBY-TV (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Visit: Gas Prices and New Bike Path Have People Biking to Work, KTVL-TV (Medford, OR)
Visit: Visalians turn to two wheels to save on fuel costs, Times-Delta (Visalia, CA)
Visit: Will rising fuel prices force more pedaling?, St. Tammany News (LA)
Visit: Rolling with pump prices: Other sets of wheels looking better, Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, CO
Visit: U.S. cities encourage bicycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Employers: Embrace bicycle commuting

Image of stylish woman on bicycle
From the Idaho Statesman, 06.11.08:

Our View: Workers, employers: Embrace bicycling
If rising gasoline prices are crimping your budget, you might find relief--and better health--by bicycling to work.

The best way to reduce local gasoline use is to reduce commutes to work in vehicles that burn the stuff. Bicycling up to 10 miles "is a very do-able commute," said Mark McNeese, the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Idaho Transportation Department.

Ask your employer to support you. Your company may have to cough up some money to pay for improvements like secure bicycle storage. But there's a business argument for getting you out of your car and onto your bike. Your employer could get a healthier, more productive and less financially stressed employee. If enough people join you, we'll all get cleaner air, less traffic congestion, and a better quality of life. (Read more.)
A supportive employer can really enhance the appeal of commuting by bicycle. Two great articles this week point the way for employers: this supportive editorial from Idaho; and a television report on Children's Hospital in Seattle. The hospital is encouraging employees to bike commute by providing secure bike parking, showers and lockers, a cash incentive, and free emergency cab rides. From KING-TV (Seattle):
Children's short term goal is to get at least 10% of its employees bicycling to work... Next month, employees who pledge to ride to work twice a week will be given a free bike. "These bikes will come with fenders, lights and a rack and a helmet so that the employee has everything they need for a bicycle commute," said Barbara Culp, Children's Hospital bicycle program. (Read more, includes video.)
This "puff piece" about Seattle Children's Hospital suggests the institution is promoting bikes to improve health and the environment. Maybe. I suspect it's more about traffic mitigation. Hospitals are major traffic generators, and neighbors are often contentious about the congestion and frequent screaming ambulances.

Children's Hospital should be commended for embracing bicycling. And this traffic mitigation approach might strengthen your own case with your employer to better support bicycling, especially if it's an organization that generates significant traffic. Employers can save on parking provision, and more bicycling employees will open vehicle spaces for customer parking. And, as Children's Hospital demonstrates, encouraging bicycling can generate favorable publicity.

How bike-friendly is your workplace? What strategies have you used to encourage your employer to embrace bike commuting?

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Bike commuters find employers that smooth path, Crain's Chicago Business
Visit: Children's Hospital reshapes daily commute, MyNorthwest.com
Visit: Commuting by Bike: Good for individuals, good for business, Lexington Business (KY)
Visit: Encourage Businesses and Employers. League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Bike to Work: Employer's Guide, Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Visit: Employer's Bike Guide, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Visit: How to Make Your Business Bike-Friendly, Bike Arlington
Visit: Pharma corp encourages bike commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Brewer is bike-friendly employer, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Google (Europe) gifts bikes to staff, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Businesses show transportation vision, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tacoma: Reporter pedals for Bike to Work Month

Arts writer Rosemary Ponnekanti pedals on way to assignment.
From the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), 06.09.08:

The Bicycle Diaries: Reporter took the pedal challenge during May
Arts reporter Rosemary Ponnekanti took on the City of Tacoma’s Bike to Work month challenge during May--and lived to tell about it.


May was the City of Tacoma’s Bike to Work Month, so I decided to step up to the plate (or rather, the pedal). Yes, I rode my bike to work at The News Tribune for the whole month...And hey, it was fun! Car doors, yes; sweat, yes; rain, yes – but on the whole, this relapsed cyclist is now inspired to get back on the bike. Here’s the story of my personal Bike to Work month...

WEDNESDAY, MAY 21

Cool Moment You Don’t Get in a Car No. 1: Smelling the lilac blooming next to the road as you pass. In the rain, of course.

FRIDAY, MAY 30

Well, the end of my personal Bike to Work Month. Now what? I’m totally convinced that cycling is the way to go to work: fresh air, exercise, no gas expense, being at one with the universe...I’m now fully initiated into Northwest cycling, and can open pit zips in my jacket, dodge raindrops and drink coffee while cycling. (Actually, I’m making it up about the coffee. But I wish I wasn’t.)

Here’s my wish list for Tacoma, with ideas stolen from bike-friendly cities elsewhere.

1. Bike lanes that link to each other, and represent real commuting routes. (Amsterdam)
2. Bike racks outside all major businesses and public spaces. (Amsterdam)
3. Stands of free “borrow-a-bikes” around the city. (Paris, Barcelona)
4. Tough fines for drivers who sideswipe around corners. (Amsterdam)
5. A waterfront bike path, linking downtown, parks and beaches. (Melbourne) (Read more.)
The coverage continues for Bike to Work Month. This first-person account of bicycle commuting isn't particularly remarkable (and it will be a good day when a person bicycling to work isn't "remarkable".) Except for the writer's conclusion for what Tacoma needs to become more bicycle friendly: lanes, racks, paths. Not a hint of a demand from this novice bike commuter for bicyclist education.

Image: News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). Arts writer Rosemary Ponnekanti pedals on way to assignment.
Visit: Bicycle Alliance of Washington
Visit: Washington state bike commuter profiled, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Cold-weather cycling in Washington, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Florida: Bicycles more popular

Peggy Strickland walks her bike through the showroom at the Lakeland Automall.
From The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), 06.08.08:

With Increasing Gas Prices, Bicycles Quickly Becoming More Popular
Gas prices...played a role in Peggy Strickland's decision to start biking to work daily.

"I wanted to not have a car," Strickland said. Strickland, 52, commutes from her home...to Lakeland AutoMall five days a week. She rides 12 miles round-trip, making the trip longer than necessary "just to get some riding time in. I find it very relaxing."

Strickland has commuted to work on her bike for about two years. Because she works at a car dealership, she wondered how people would feel about it, she said. "Maybe it was a silly reservation, but (I felt like I was) kind of ditching my car for my bike," she said...

Everyone commutes in the Smith household, whether it's to school or work. Wanda Smith rides with their son William, 7, to Highlands Grove Elementary, and she began commuting to her job at FITniche at Lakeside Village in early May.

The bike riding served as a way to expend some of William's energy before the school day started. He previously attended private school and was accused of having attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

After lots of money and testing, only to find that William was "all boy," Wanda Smith said she began walking, running and riding bikes to school with him to help burn some early-morning energy. Now he's a straight-A student who doesn't get in trouble.

A combination of factors helped push the family to bicycle commuting, Wanda Smith said. "My husband and I are very defiant by nature," she said, laughing. "They can raise (gas) prices all they want, but we don't have to pay them." (Read more.)
Interesting article from Florida, featuring conversations with several bike shop employees and local bike commuters, including a woman who works at an automall. Another sign that we're approaching the tipping point?

Image: The Ledger (Lakeland, FL). Peggy Strickland walks her bike through the showroom at the Lakeland Automall.
Visit: Florida Bicycle Association
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Nonagenarian rides 56-year-old bike

Image of 92-year-old bicyclist Fred Mathes
From the Fresno Bee, 06.03.08:

Classic Schwinn cruiser: At 92, Fred Mathes still rides 56-year-old three-speed
Fred Mathes rides his bike to the post office (which in this neighborhood is inside the local video store), to the local diner, and out through the open fields.

He's 92. His bicycle--a black, still-shiny, three-speed Schwinn--is 56.

Mathes feels no need for a newer bicycle. "Did you hear about the centipede who fell in a ditch?" he asks. "He couldn't get up. He was too exhausted trying to figure out what foot to put first. Same thing with a bike. Who needs 18 gears?"

For his 80th birthday he rode to Oxnard, Calif.--some 380 miles. For his 90th birthday he went for a 40-mile bike ride to Friant Dam and back. He hasn't made plans yet for his next birthday bicycle ride in October, but Friant is in the running because he likes to have lunch at the Dam Diner...His typical out-and-about ride is 14 miles.

He does not favor Lycra or cycling shoes. His riding clothes are whatever he happens to be wearing, usually a pair of trousers (he rolls up one pant leg), a long-sleeved western shirt and a stylish cotton hat from Italy.

As for bicycling, he's loved it since he was a 10-year-old riding around the Maywood area of Los Angeles on a bike borrowed from his cousin. "It was fun, fun, just exhilarating," he says. "Still is."

He says bicycling is about "the breeze in your face, the exercise, and the constant change of scenery. It's the frosting on the cake. Plus it doesn't wear out your knees and hips." (Read more.)
Talk about old school. How could I resist sharing this very entertaining article from last week? Truly an inspiration to aging Boomers like myself, as well as a strong endorsement of practical bicycling (no lycra, excessive gearing, etc.)

In his presentation, Cycling for Everyone, the bike academic John Pucher suggests the need to make streets friendly enough that everyone feels comfortable to bicycle, including seniors. He presents examples of bike riding trends among aging residents of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, where it's very common for older people to travel by bike. It will be a good day--a tipping point?--when senior citizens on bicycles aren't exceptional individuals, but the norm.

Image: Fresno Bee. 92-year-old bicyclist Fred Mathes.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bike commuting: Reaching the tipping point?


When it comes to bicycling, are we approaching a favorable tipping point?

A recent Bike Commute Tips Blog post on the surge in bicycling in Massachusetts prompted a comment from a reader:

All these stories about high gas prices getting people back on their bikes...It makes me wonder, is all of this a momentary blip? Or are these stories...chronicling a sea change? Is it possible that we are at a tipping point in American culture, where the idea that bikes are a viable means of transportation becomes mainstream? One thing is sure: people's attitudes are changing, and we are at a unique and exciting time in our history.
Another reader commented that $4 a gallon gas isn't a tipping point, as motorists can adapt to improve efficiency by buying smaller cars or hybrids, and the collapse of SUV sales is one sign this is happening.

Have we reached a tipping point?

I agree that higher gas prices alone--even the much prayed for $10 a gallon--aren't enough to break America's auto addiction. Proactive advocacy by bicyclists will still be necessary. The media and policy makers are paying attention, bicyclists are being heard and we are making our case. Which makes this moment an exciting one for alternative transportation advocates.

Transit demand is also surging, and this presents an opportunity for bicycle activists. I've always believed that bicyclists succeed when they build coalitions with transit, environmental, and community advocates. We can help foster bicycle commuting by joining with transit advocates to call for improved transit, while simultaneously demanding improved bike access.

This opportunity is illustrated by a recent article in San Jose Mercury News, 'Large shifts in behavior' during commutes create new problems:
Transit ridership is up across the Bay Area, but riders say parking at Caltrain and BART lots is so jammed that you have to arrive before 6:30 a.m. to find a free spot. More drivers appear to be leaving their cars at home and bicycling to transit, but bike racks are filling up on local buses and Caltrain, and some riders are being left behind.
Many of these rapidly crowding transit agencies might be tempted to reduce bicycle capacity to make more space for passengers. Bike advocates need to join transit advocates to demand more frequent service to relieve overcrowding and more dedicated bike parking facilities such as the Palo Alto Bikestation or Warm Planet Bikes.

We should also challenge free vehicle parking at transit stations, and urge fees that could be used to improve transit service. To me, this would be the tipping point: Seeing public support for raising the cost of driving to support alternatives. We're not there yet. But there is clearly a favorable trend--which I trace back to the passage of ISTEA in 1991--which bicycling advocates need to exploit.

What would you consider the tipping point?

Visit: Americans Driving At Historic Lows: Eleven Billion Fewer Vehicle Miles Traveled in March 2008 Over Previous March, U.S. Department of Transportation
Visit: GM Mulls Dumping Iconic, Gas-Guzzling Hummer Brand, CNN
Visit: Will We Ever Get Out of Our Cars, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bicycling against car culture, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Shreveport: The sign says to bike!


From the Shreveport Times, 06.07.08:

More ways than cars to get around town
Cars and trucks and SUVs aren't the only options of transport in a time when my weekly gas budget is more expensive than my grocery budget. Carpooling with friends, riding the painted Sportran buses or riding a bike are several alternate forms of transportation to use that could cut down on the number of trips by car.

I'm not alone in finding other ways to save on gas. Ian Webb, owner of River City Cycling & Fitness, and Gene Eddy, general manager of SporTran, both told me the number of people riding bikes and buses has increased. Eddy said ridership on the buses has increased by seven percent this year, and Webb said May was his best month ever, selling 95 bicycles, one-third of those commuter bikes...

So if you don't want to decide between paying for groceries, prescriptions or gas, take the bus or a bike. (Read more.)
There's a very interesting nugget in this op-ed by a Louisiana Tech intern. A bike shop owner in Shreveport is selling signs--presumably like the one pictured here--to send a message to "Share the Road."

The bike industry might take a cue from this. Mass distributed yard signs promoting bicycling at this gas price crunch might do far more than a 100 full-page ads in Bicycling Magazine to get people to consider using a bike for more of their travel needs. Billboards along congested roads might be even better.

In terms of visibility, bicycle commuters ourselves have always been the best communication to gas-strapped motorists--providing inspiration, encouragement, and example.

Image: Shreveport Times. Ian Webb, owner of River City Cycling & Fitness.
Visit: Bicycling against car culture, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Colorado Springs: Praying for $10 gal. gas


From the Colorado Springs Gazette, 06.06.08:

Cyclists push for bike-friendly city
Al Brody is praying for $10 a gallon gas. No, Al is not crazy. He's sane. He's bright. He seems like a nice guy.

But he's a diehard bicyclist and a tireless advocate for the two-wheeled community who thinks fundamental changes in the way we get from here to there won't occur until we face European-level gas prices. Brody's views are timely, since June is Bike Month in Colorado Springs.

Brody, chairman of the Pikes Peak Area Bike Coalition, has been working on bicycle issues for six years and has seen some movement in making Colorado Springs a place where people might actually be able to use a bike to commute to work. "Incrementally, at a glacial pace, we are getting there," he said this week. "I see progress, but not huge progress." (Read more.)
Interesting article from Colorado Springs, recently named as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community. The article cites excise tax figures which show more new bicycles are sold in the county (El Paso, Colorado) than cars, which should support local efforts to encourage greater improvement.

As one might expect, the "praying for $10 a gallon gas" incited much vituperation from defensive motorists on the Gazette's comment page. Understanding that Colorado Springs is among other things, a hotbed of evangelical Christianity, this "praying" comment inspired a thought: Which do Americans worship more? Their "supreme being/creator" or their automobile?

Consider the total time most Americans dedicate to "God" (church attendance, scripture reading, praying) compared to the total time dedicated to the car (driving, fixing, fueling, cleaning, paying). Which is really more important? Which inspires greater anxiety, that there might not be a God, or that gas prices might exceed $10 a gallon?

Image: Yehuda Moon.
Visit: Traffic rules, room to ride contentious bike issues, Colorado Springs Gazette
Visit: Colorado Springs challenging for bicycling?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
Full disclaimer: I'm a long time, well, let's just say irreverent secular humanist. Though the miraculous 2004 World Series win by my beloved Boston Red Sox did inspire some brief reconsideration of my non-believer status.

Madison: Bike Commuter of the Year


From the Isthmus (Madison, WI), 06.06.08:

The Madison Bike Commuter of the Year for 2008 is Terri Felton, who bikes to work between Madison and Waunakee through sun, rain, snow, and wind through all twelve months of the year. (Read more.)
Inspiring video and article, on a woman in Wisconsin who rides year round. Excerpt from her bicycling summary: "Coldest temperature recorded: -6°." Six below!?! She certainly puts this California bike commuter to shame. (I bike everyday, but am often found on the train for a big chunk of the trip in inclement weather...he sheepishly admits.)

Visit: New Initiative to Encourage Bicycling, NBC15.com
Visit: Snowy Bicycle Commute, YouTube
Visit: Warmth excites bicyclists in Wisconsin, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Winter cold no obstacle to bike commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Getting comfortable on a bike

Image of a bicyclist being fitted on a bike
From the Oregonian (Portland), 06.05.08:

Proper fit, warmup keys to preventing cycling aches
To any cyclist who's had aches in the neck, back or hands, there's help: proper fit and warm-up exercises.

About 85 percent of more than 500 recreational cyclists involved in a Department of Kinesiology study at California State University (Northridge) reported one or more injuries from what doctors call "overuse." The most common complaints involved pain in the neck, knees, groin and buttocks, hands and back.

All this suffering from riding a bike?

It might seem like sacrilege to bring up the dark side of cycling here in Portland--the city with the nation's highest percentage of bike commuters--but aches and pains are not exactly new to some of those who ride year-round.

As fair-weather riders return to the bike lanes, and as more folks take to their bikes as the cost of gasoline rises, it's a good time to learn how to bike better and avoid the most frequent injuries.

Before the moaning begins, though, the virtues of cycling:

You save money by commuting on two wheels. You reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet. You burn calories, build cardiovascular strength, improve endurance, tone muscles and increase your overall fitness, reducing your chances of obesity and heart disease. (Read more.)
A very helpful overview of bicycling comfort, including useful stretching and fitting suggestions. I frequently get inquiries regarding bicycling comfort from readers of my Bike Commute Tips site, including the dreaded "sore butt syndrome."

Image: The Oregonian.
Visit: Get comfortable on a new bike, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Buying a Bike: new or used?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sacramento: Bicycling gaining big

Image of bicyclist in Sacramento
From the Sacramento Bee, 06.04.08:

Bicycling in region rolls up big gains
For years, cycling advocates have been trying with limited success to spread the word that the bicycle was one answer to many of our commuting headaches. People caught on, but no one was suggesting that old-fashioned pedal power had transformed the landscape.

This year, it's different. Unprecedented gas prices and a host of other variables, including the temporary closure of Interstate 5, mainstream awareness of our carbon footprint, ever-increasing emphasis on fitness and newfound support from employers, have created a groundswell of bicycle commuting in the Sacramento area.

What might come of it remains to be seen. Tuesday, the second full commuting day of the I-5 closure, found cyclists of all kinds going to and from work. It seemed practically European out there. (Read more.)
Great article by the Sacramento Bee's bicycle commuting journalist Blair Anthony Robertson.

In a state with three hugely charismatic shining cities--Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego (sorry San Jose, you're a great city, but...)--it's easy to overlook Sacramento. But in bicycling terms, Sacramento matters, big time. Here's why.

Sacramento is, of course, the capital of California, the sixth largest economy in the world. It's a company town, and the company is state government. Decisions are made in Sacramento about the allocation of billions of dollars in public resources. And the decision makers are not the transient legislators or our commuting Gubernator, but legislative analysts, agency directors, policy directors, planners, bureaucrats, journalists, lobbyists, and other assorted state government functionaries.

These are the permanent Sacramento residents who actually shape the state's policy. And where California leads, generally the nation and often the world follow. Bicycling enhancements in Sacramento are observed by, lived by, traveled on, enjoyed by, and inspired by these folks, who determine California's transportation, health, environment, and education policies.

The Big Tomato is still a city where motoring dominates. But it is also an outstanding and under-appreciated bicycling city--already among the Top 10 in the U.S and a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community. And it can only be a good thing when bicycling flourishes in Sacramento.

Image: Sacramento Bee.
Visit: Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates
Visit: Sacramento logs a million plus, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Sacramento celebrates bicycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Sacramento: Cycle City?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Biking Journalist: Interview with Blair Robertson, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Massachusetts: Bicycling surges

Image of bicyclists at Boston Critical Mass
From WHDH-TV, Boston, 06.01.08:

As gas prices soar, so does interest in bicycling in Mass.
BOSTON--Drivers clear a lane, bicyclists are taking to the road in record numbers in Massachusetts.

In Cambridge ridership has soared 70 percent in five years, the MBTA is launching a "Bike Coach" to let riders bring their bicycles to beaches this summer and across the state bicycle shops are struggling to keep up with demand.

With gas prices hovering near $4 a gallon, the surge shows no signs of slowing.

During a recent bike-to-work week, activists hoped to get Massachusetts riders to pledge 50,000 commuter biking miles. Instead they got 125,000 pledged miles -- more than half the distance to the moon.

For bicycling enthusiasts--once a subculture of bike messengers, car haters, cash-poor students and eco-activists--it's beginning to feel like a tipping point. "People are coming back to the cycle in a big way," said Shane Jordan of the nonprofit Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. "There's a whole lot more people out on the street around this time than there were last year."

Cities and town are adapting in big and small ways. In Lexington, near the popular 11-mile Minuteman Bikeway, activists installed a half-dozen new bicycle racks in April for the crush of bicyclists. On a recent Saturday every spot was taken, with extra bikes locked to sign posts and parking meters. "I couldn't believe how many people were out there," said Stewart Kennedy, head of the local bicycle advisory committee. "It's getting into the zeitgeist that it's cool." (Read more.)
Great news from my native state of Massachusetts. (Need I mention my enthusiasm for the Boston Red Sox?) Exciting things are happening in the Bay State, including moves to improve transit access (including a new "bike cage" at an MBTA stop), install bike racks, create bike maps, and even a quiet interest in a possible Paris Velib style bike-sharing program.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: More Boston commuters are taking to their bicycles, Boston Globe
Visit: Boston's bike lanes nearly set for riders, Boston Globe
Visit: Confessions of a new bike commuter, Brookline TAB
Visit: Moving Boston to two wheels, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Boston mayor pushes bikes, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bike station needed at MBTA?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Worcester: Pedal to the metal, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Martha's Vinyard: Bike commuting is fun, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site