Nationwide, there has been a significant growth in the number of people riding bicycles for both recreation and commuting over the past decade. The number of recreational bicycle riders has steadily increased, but it is in the area of urban commuting where the upward trend is most noticeable.
According to a Bike League study of the American cities where cycling is growing fastest, Portland, Oregon has been leading the way in recent years. In Portland, approximately 1% of those commuting to work did so by bicycle in 2000. By 2012 the number of those commuting by bicycle had increased fourfold, an increase to 6%. Other cities that have shown marked increases in bicycle commuting in recent years are Washington DC, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and as of late, Minneapolis and Seattle.
Smaller cities leading the way include Berkeley and Davis in California, Boulder, Colorado, and Eugene, Oregon. Nearly 20% of the commuters in Davis bicycle to and from work. In Eugene, the percentage is smaller but Eugene's population is much larger, as is the total number of commuters. Eugene has been a leading advocate of using bicycles as a primary means of transportation for years.
Even the most bicycle-friendly American cities still have some distance to go to catch up with several of the leading bicycling cities in Europe such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where roughly half the population use bicycles to commute, run errands, or simply to move about. In these two cities, approximately half the cyclists are women.
The bicycling trend in the USA is nevertheless definitely headed upward. This is a good sign in that bicycling is an inexpensive means of transportation, aside from the initial purchase of a bicycle. Bicycles are relatively low maintenance, they do not pollute, and bicycling is good for the heart. The main negative is the issue of safety, especially in urban areas that are not yet bicycle-friendly.
The Benefits of Bicycle Riding
As briefly mentioned above, bicycle riding has a number of good points, with safety most likely being the main issue of potential concern. As careful as cyclists might be, they are somewhat at the mercy of the inattentive or careless motorist, especially areas devoid of dedicated bicycle paths or bike lanes.
In some urban and suburban areas commuting by bicycle can actually save time. In other areas, commuting by automobile makes more sense. The weather is of course a factor as well. Along the northern tier of states, bicycling is not always practical, and in some cases not possible, due to snow, ice, wind or rain.
When it does make even a little sense to bike to where you need to go, or simply to go bike riding for recreation - do it. Three of the easiest ways of getting the amount of exercise you need are walking, swimming, and bicycling. Of the three, bicycling can be the easiest to do over a given period of time, while at the same time producing significantly more benefits than walking or swimming. Bicycling does not exercise the arms as does swimming, but it exercises just about every other part of the body, building muscle, increasing muscle tone, building stamina, and improving heart health.
Getting about on a bicycle is also easier on your feet and joints than walking, jogging, or running. Bicycling is also a great stress reliever. When bicycling to and fro, you tend to feel like you're doing something good for yourself and good for the environment as well.
Bike Racks for Safety - for the Bike
Whenever you reach your destination, an occasional item of concern is what to do with your bike. More and more office buildings feature areas dedicated to safe storage of your bicycle, but most still do not. Some stores have bike racks in front, but most do not and you have to chain your bike to whatever happens to be handy. You have to secure it such that someone cannot simply remove a wheel and take the rest of the bike away with them.
A bike rack that allows you to easily lock your bicycle is still the safest way to store your bike, and more and more parking garages are setting aside well-lit, and monitored locations for bike storage.
Bicycling to work in New York City has become an ever growing trend, and the city has been putting more and more effort towards becoming a bicycle-friendly city. One of the challenges the city faces however, has to do with secure bike parking, which in most cases needs to be provided by private businesses, apartment owners, and the residents of the city themselves. Solutions include providing adequate storage space, allowing people to bring their bicycles into buildings (prohibited in many instances), and even allowing bikes to be taken into individual offices. In NYC, parking garages exceeding a certain size are now required to set aside a certain amount of space for bike parking.
As more and more cities are endeavoring to become more bicycle friendly, they are also addressing such issues as safe bike storage and other challenges. The bottom line is still this however. Bicycle riding is good for your body, mind, spirit, and good for the environment as well.
- Benefits Of Riding A Bike
- Bicycle Parking Solutions - PDF
- Health Benefits of Cycling
- 10 Best Biking Cities in Europe
- Analysis of Bicycling in American Cities - PDF
Find more about the author: Kristen Breedlove