More Bikes on the Road

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Photo Credit: Jonathan Rausseo

Bikes, bikes, bikes. It's all I ever hear about these days. There's the Bike Share program, the forth-coming Bike Coop, bike prevention tables and so on and so on. I just finished writing a description about Bike to Work week and taking my bike to the shop to change out the sprocket.

I guess what I am trying to say is that with so much "cycling" around me it is hard to remember that not everyone does it. The number of cyclists on campus is on the rise. This year 6% of the campus reported that they use bicycles to get around. Although this number is up from previous years, the number is actually really low.

In Denmark 27% of all trips are made by bicycle. In the U.S., and probably Canada, we haven't reached the double digits yet. So what to do?

Well a friend just sent me this nice article from the Scientific American (thanks Nads) about how to get more people biking. The solution... women. The article argues that biking rates would go up if the infrastructure was more accommodating to women. I had to think about this for a moment because I wasn't sure of the comments were sexist or nor.

I concluded that it wasn't sexist, it was actually kind of sensible. The article doesn't say "get more women biking", what is says it that you can get an idea of how good the infrastructure is by verifying the rates of female cyclists. The article argues that women are usually more risk averse and more focused on utility than man.

For instance, if I need to visit friends, or go shopping or get to work, than I want a direct path that is going to not only take me there, but also do it in a safe manner. Scenic bike routes along the canal are nice but if they don't take me to where I want to go than why not take a car?

After reading the article I asked myself the question "how many times have a biked down a street and feared I would be hit by a car?" I think I get that feeling about twice a week. And with that in mind I can see why anybody might not want to take their bikes as a primary form of transportation.

The Office of Parking and Sustainable Transportation has a webpage that talks about how to cycle to campus. It is nice to know that there are some safe routes but I think that it is going to take more. The new Bike Coop (website coming soon) will hopefully be able to really get cycling advocacy out in the forefront, but until that time KEEP SAFE.


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