Amsterdamize


Good & Bad News from Arizona
June 2, 2008, 9:10 am
Filed under: news | Tags: , , ,

At least once a week I try to lift something from the bike news feeds that is either remarkable, uplifting, alarming or just informative. Today I bring your attention to an article from the Arizona Republic that brings both good and bad news. First the good part (excerpts):

Valley commuters rediscover bikes

As gas costs rise, firms move to accommodate workers who cycle 

Skyrocketing gas prices are prompting more commuters to try bicycling to work – or at least to the nearest bus stop.

Several Valley cycle shops report higher sales of commuter models and demand for tuneups on bikes that have been gathering dust in back rooms or garages.

“We don’t have good data because so few cities do bicycle counts,” said R.S. Matt, spokesman for the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists and a Phoenix resident. “But you see more of them in the streets, and we’re getting lots of calls for bicycle education.”

The trip takes 90 minutes, but Zhang, 59, said it’s worth the time considering gas prices, environmental issues and health benefits.

Since he started cycling to and from bus stops three years ago, his cholesterol level dropped from over 200 to 120, and his body-mass index is a healthy 20.

Alan Blackmore, an employee with Global Bikes in Chandler said sales of commuter models have climbed 25 to 50 percent in recent months.

Some customers mention fuel costs, but most claim they’re trading gas pedals for bicycle pedals for the health and fitness benefits, he said.

With so many novices calling his organization for information, Matt said he spends a lot of time handing out safety advice: Obey traffic laws, wear bright clothing and a helmet. He expects a slowdown during the summer months because few employers offer shaded bicycle lockers or showers. 

…etc
Now the bad part: so much potential, but these good people let themselves be marginalized by bicycle myths! Also illustrated by the article’s tips on the side: 

Tips for bicycle commuting

  • Plan your route, selecting, where possible, wide roads with less traffic. Take a weekend test ride to spot hazards. Time the trip.
  • Be safe and predictable. Wear a helmet and signal turns.
  • Dress to commute; avoid wearing sandals or high heels. Ankle straps can keep pant legs out of gears.
  • Have the bike tuned and checked. Carry a tire pump, patch kit and small tool kit. Know how to repair a flat or fix a chain.
  • Pack briefcase, lunch or clothes in front or rear rack, backpack, basket, saddle bag, seat bag or a trailer. Secure cargo with bungee cord if necessary.

See the bad part? People from Arizona who read this article might get jazzed up about the option of biking (as it makes more sense financially, for their health and socially), but quickly find more and more excuses (obstacles) NOT to proceed and actually do it. 

We need to brake that spell. Push harder, show the alternatives (less is more), because people deserve better.

Update: this is extraordinary:

High Gas Prices Cause Bike Shortages in N.Y.

‘They’re All Gone. It’s Wicked.’

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8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

As an American originally from the west, that photo warms my heart! In Western-style, sometimes more is more and I love that.

I agree that in the realm of commuting the best thing to do is just ride a bike – don’t make too big a deal of it.

I still can’t get over the cyclist – he looks a little like my step-dad, I want to run over and give him a hug for riding that bike! Hurray!

Comment by Charlotte

I know Cycle Chic when I see it, no matter where 🙂
This pic obviously stood out when I searched on ‘Arizona’ & ‘bike’ tags. The rest was mostly dirt bikes :). Glad it brings such good memories.

Comment by mindcaster

Groetjes!

I’m planning to start commuting one day per week on my bicycle. It’s a 16 km trip, one way, with one very large hill (downhill to work, luckily). I have to admit the possibility of a flat tire has me a little concerned. There are no bike shops along my route! If I get a flat, I will be late for work!

I was inspired to start riding more by my visit to Amsterdam last summer. I was so impressed by the fact that it was harder to cross the bike lane as a pedestrian, than it was to cross the street. Also, I was very moved by an elderly gentleman I met, that could barely walk due to a stroke, but he could still cycle quite well. He is a great inspiration to me!

Comment by Wilma

Dag Wilma!

16 km one way, that’s impressive! It’s a great plan. I understand your worries, but take it from me, you’re not more likely to get a flat on a bike than with a car. The chances diminish of course if you don’t ride every day. As you probably know, Amsterdam is littered with stuff that will give you flats. I have about 2 or 3 flats in a year and I ride every day, for a minimum of 5 km.

Either way, to be safe, I’d practice repairing it and bring the kit. That will set you back a max of 10 min. Calculate that in, and you’re set. 🙂

Love the A’dam story and it’s so true! Even research shows that Dutch people ride more and more with age, the highest precentage bracket for elderly over 65!

I know your commute will go well! Enjoy!

Comment by mindcaster

So if this is bad advice, what’s good advice?

Comment by Mark Stosberg

hi Mark,

it’s not all bad, just the part where things listed imply danger and so much preparation involved.

Treat your bike trips as much the same as any other casual activity. It’s perfectly normal, you’re not engaging in space exploration.

You know, people perpetuate behaviour that isn’t always rational. So if more people take away the ‘danger’ stigma (and all the stuff you ‘need’) and show it effortlesly, this will most certainly improve the overall experience and rub off on others.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t opt for a helmet (just don’t want it legislated), but extensive research has shown that in car cultures bicyclists with helmets are more vunerable to motorists than bikers without. Plus, if you’re worried about car traffic, you should. But that helmet won’t save you.

I understand and respect that no place is the same, but I do know a few basic facts that can only motivate, not discourage cycling.

So, in short, prepare as you think is best for your route, but think hard about all the things you can do without.

Comment by mindcaster

Marc

Hmmm. I recently grumbled on another blog about a lack of alternatives to cars for commuting my 30 mile round trip daily commute here in California. I bitched “what do you expect me to do, ride my bike for 30 miles” Now having read this I’m rethinking that narrow mentality. Perhaps I should have been easier on the guy.

It seems cycling is becoming a real alternative. I used to commute by cycle before I owned a car here. Takes ages coz things are so spread out. I arrive sweaty. And I have gotten a flat once, had to get my wife to come get me as I totally suck at repairing flats. Never could do it even in school. Pathetic.

I do want a new bike, so I may look into doing it once or twice a week. My commute is luckily pretty flat, or maybe the hills will present themselves once I star riding. So 15 miles should be about an hour maybe 90 mins. If I can get in the habit of getting up super early and having the wife drop off the kid to school I could do it. I really need to lose a few inches around my gut…

Comment by adam

Adam, really, believe me, listen to me, they’re all petty excuses! hehe
You don’t have to go around as Lance Armstrong. Comfort and Style over Speed, I’d say. The way we do it here. And I’ve done that kind of commute for years, also in lesser sporty years. Never wore lycra. Never stank up a room. So scratch being sweaty, needing a shower at work, etc. Hurdle gone.
You just gave up on repairing flats, and it was probably not like you seemed the cool guy for trying. Listen, you’re an intelligent guy, and it’s become way easier since school, dude! But friggin’ hold on! How many flats do you think you’ll suffer? Foggedaboutit!.
Get a comfortable, commuter bike (I know a few), not one which will make you want to go lightspeed. Start doing it once/twice, yes. And soon, my friend, you’ll be reaping all the benefits! Then you can shout out to the world, to, ironically, quote a certain Top Gear host: “I am a driving riding God!” 😉

(PS: now you just gotta read this)

Comment by amsterdamize




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