If you love cycling and think you know all there is to know about the economics and realities of cycling in America then make sure you read this book because you are about to have your head turned inside out. And if you hate cycling because you think cycling causes traffic, pollution, the Discovery disaster, global warning, the inability for anyone to find Yeti, parking issues, and negatively impacts your ability to sell photographic prints, then you certainly need to read this. Why? Because, chances are, all of you are wildly off base.
The fact that cycling is a lightning rod in American politics, economics and urban planning never fails to make my head spin. I see cyclists doing dumb things and think “You deserve to crash.” And I hear and read idiotic, fearful, ignorant people ramble about the negative impact of cycling and all I can think is “We actually ARE this dumb.”
But pointing fingers never works. It can be fun, but it never works. What works in America when it comes to cycling? Money. That’s about it. Did you know that America and the Netherlands both came to the cycling idea at roughly the same time. (1970s) And both regions had their naysayers and political leaders who fought it tooth and nail. The Netherlands had a plan, adapted, stuck to it and made cycling the best path forward. America, well, we went another direction, one in which we are mostly still heading at warp speed even though we know there is a Thelma and Louise style cliff dead ahead.
At some point, mostly likely when faced with catastrophic alternatives, America WILL come to the cycling conclusion. Once the idea that cycling allows things like 80% of revenue to say local as opposed to say nearly 40% heading straight to oil and gas companies. And this is but one reason why it makes sense. But Elly Blue’s “Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save The Economy,” is SO filled with good data it is impossible to convey how much I learned. I found myself reading and rereading paragraphs while uttering “Wait one Goddamn second,” then pondering what was presented. Sweet Jesus we have so much work to do and it starts with everyone calling time out and regaining their sense. Math, science, truth, fact might be a good place to start. (And there will be some pain points for cycling fans.)
The author has a cool name and the type is set in BLUE ink. It took me a minute to get used to it but I thought it was a nice touch. Get it, read it.
Great article – here in Oslo Norway the city council has a good pace with regard to building out the bicycle “road” network which does not come in conflict with cars.
In winter these roads are given priority and are generally cleared of snow and you can trust they are clear come morning.
Many people, including me cycle all year, There is cycle parking with cleaning and maintenance space in the office building, pluss wardrobes and showers for those who need it – I have approx 5 kilometers with a 160 meters drop to sealevel going to work and just take it easy having mostly downhill.
It is definetly possible to do this.
The best thought out city I’ve spent some time in, Milton Keynes in England, was well planned from the start. The cycling/ walking / running is designed so that there is no conflict between bikes and cars. Often the motoways are dug down into the terrain (also dampens road noice)
and brigdes across remain flat.
Here is a map – https://www.destinationmiltonkeynes.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MK_Redway_Poster_PRINT_NOcrops.pdf – red lines are for bikes, you get a lot more details as you zoom in.
We have our good cities too. Portland, Boulder, Ft. Worth, Long Beach but they are no comparison to anything overseas. We are still, in great part, controlled by oil and gas, the auto lobby, and predatory/corrupt insurance companies not to mention our local, state and federal governments are so corrupt it’s almost impossible to get anything done.