Biking Is a Feasible Mode of Transportation for Just About Anyone
Have you given up on biking because it’s just not convenient enough as a working mom or dad, or you fear for your life pedaling alongside busy streets? Or maybe you’d like to bring your bike to work, but the train you commute on won’t let you? These are among the detriments to increased bike ridership in the U.S., and they are all being addressed by a collection of organizations that see real potential for biking to go from being a once-in-a-while diversion to a serious mode of transportation.
Biking advocates have had a string of recent successes from bike shares coming online in Washing-ton, D.C. and New York City to former railways being converted to bike-friendly trails across Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Along with the popularity of car shares like Zipcar, biking has become a feasible means for getting around, but not everyone has caught on.
Male riders still far outnumber female riders in the U.S., and African Americans are also underrepresented among cyclists. At issue are the need for designated bike lanes, for bike allowances on trains and—farfetched as it might sound—even locker and shower facilities at workplaces as the most progressive companies are beginning to do.
This issue’s cover story by veteran journalist Melinda Tuhus tells about efforts to increase ridership among these groups—and get more kids safely riding—and describes one New Haven, Connecticut, family that has nearly abandoned their cars altogether. Their secret? Bikes that feature wheelbarrow-esque cargo/kid holders that allow them to more easily tote three children without sacrificing visibility. Says mom Sara Armstrong who has twin 10-year-old boys that are now transitioning to their own two-wheeled transportation: “We ride. That’s just how we get around.”
Is it doable for the rest of us? Certainly in small increments and with the right support systems in place. Biking advocates have fought for biking and pedestrian provisions in the federal transportation bill, and there are organizations in place, like New York City’s Recycle-a-Bicycle, that are getting kids riding and teaching them how to repair bikes, too. Biking is obviously a great environmental choice, but as anyone who has watched a kid learn to ride a two-wheeler knows, it’s also a huge confidence-builder. What’s more, it brings kids, families and communities together in a healthy pursuit that turns once tedious errands like grocery store trips into mini adventures.