Friday, October 06, 2006

2 Cycling is Plunging in the U.S (Despite Bicycle Production)

This morning, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about how U.S Bicycle Companies are catering especially to the needs of commuters. Today, there are a variety of bikes aimed for people who want to pleasantly ride to work instead of driving their car for 2-3 miles. I’ve also managed to get hold of articles that make other countries simply sound like heaven for cyclists. Anyway, here’s a clipping from WSJ.

Last month, New York City's Department of Transportation announced it will add 200 miles of new on-street bicycle paths, lanes and routes over the next three years. Florida just implemented a new state law that requires motorists to maintain a minimum three-foot distance when passing bicyclists -- following similar legislation in Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.

Whether many Americans will trade their cars for bikes remains to be seen. Sales of commuter bikes rose 15% over the past two years, according to Boston-based Bicycle Market Research Institute. However, at an estimated $900,000 in annual sales, it is still a small niche. Less than 0.5% of Americans commute by bike, according to the 2000 U.S. Census report. "There's no way it will happen here," says Bicycle Market Research Institute President Ash Jaising, who projects the segment's rise in sales will slow to 5% to 10% over the next two years. "The roads are just too dangerous.

More Cycling in Canada

Cycling is more popular in Canada, than in the U.S, according to this report. Statistics indicate that more people bike, walk or take the transit to work than Americans. Cycling is especially low in Southeastern USA. Though temperatures are lower in Canada than in the United States, there is high level of cycling in the former. The article than goes onto outline the basic factors for this difference, and compares trends in both countries. The report is compiled by the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at University of Sydney and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Canadian policies can be a lesson for the U.S.

However, John Forrester, a transportation engineer in the U.S, has criticized various conclusions of the author from the paper. Read it here.

Europe Dominates in Cycling

A clipping from an article compiled by Elizabeth Mygatt, Earth Policy Institute, December 2005.

Europe is the world leader in bicycle use. In Amsterdam, 33 percent of all trips are made by bicycle. In Copenhagen, one third of all commuters bike to work. Europe’s many bicycle-friendly cities have developed expansive networks of support services, often including bike lanes and separate bikeways, secure bicycle parking, and end-of-trip facilities such as showers and locker rooms. Safety initiatives implemented over the past 25 years in Germany—such as better cycling routes, “traffic calming,” more education, and stronger enforcement of traffic laws—have improved cycling safety while doubling the number of bike trips taken.

By contrast to U.S, in Germany nearly every vehicle will cross the centerline to give bikers a wide berth according to this article.

The author says,

I cannot count the times cars and trucks have slowed to my speed and followed me for a block or more when passing me would have crowded me to the side of a street or road. This is because the streets are narrow and drivers are used to sharing the road with bikers, parked cars, pedestrians, or people on in-line skates. Yes, you will have to ride on some streets in Germany - but it is much safer than riding on streets in the States.


I thought China was a leader in bicycling. Though bicycle production continues to be dominated by China, where output jumped from 34 million bicycles in 1998 to a record 73 million in 2003 according to the article, many of my Chinese friends say that more people are buying and switching to cars. Today, lesser Chinese commute to work. Yet, even though the percentage of bike commuters has taken a plunge, I must expect a huge level of traffic in the world’s most populated country.

Here's a list of bicycle data from the world over.


  1. Anonymous9:59 PM

    As for mainland, China, few people ride in the big central city. And people would like to take bus if they want to travel between towns in countryside. If travel between cities, people always take train(rich guys take airplane). Train is cheap and safe. The chinese highway always charge for the passing permission. In big central cities, people always take buses and subways. But you still can see the bicycles on the street sinc chinese population is too large and there are still not rich guys in central city.

    And all you know chinese always want to save and deposite money in banks; not like that americans always use and loan from bank.


  2. Yes, it almost the same in India.

    In the U.S, the culture itself is association closely with car travel. You see lesser cyclists, although it might even depend upon what part of the United States we're talking about. As for transit and trains, it is very poor in Buffalo, NY. I don't know why. With the all the money that went into building roads and highways everywhere, there doesn't seem to be any space left to build railways anymore. Thats what I think.



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