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Why doesn't America bike commute more often?

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Why doesn't America bike commute more often?

Old 09-21-05, 04:20 PM
  #1  
Tequila Joe
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To far? fear of crime? no motivation and just too damn lazy?

I'm over in Sweden on business this week. It just amazes me how many people commute by bike here. Civic studies in Linkoping, Sweden indicate that about 60% of all trips are made by bike. (With fuel prices around $5 /gallon, no wonder.)

Here are a couple pics from outside of my hotel. These are definatly not OCP bikes but, the folks here all love thier bikes and commuting all the same. I was by the train station today and unfortunatly I didn't have my camera with me becausee there were at least 300 bikes in the parking lot. It was certainly a sight to see.

I wish North Americans would commute just as much as these folks. Our green house gasses would be much less and the average American would weigh at least 20 lbs less!

T.J.

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 09-21-05 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:31 PM
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Our cities are MUCH younger/newer and are geared towards the car. Many european cities are old enough they are set up for walking/biking/horse etc.

Many other cultural issues that will have you labeled an ethnocentric troll if you mention them online...
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Old 09-21-05, 04:31 PM
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Here are several reasons.
1. We often live too far from work.
2. A much larger percentage of the population can afford cars.
4. Gas is cheap. (relatively)
5. We are lazy.
6. How in the world are you going to take your kids to school? They are too lazy to ride a bike.
7. How are you going to talk on the phone, put makeup on, eat a sausage-egg and cheese crousandwhich, and drink a 64 oz super Big Gulp when riding a bike?
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Old 09-21-05, 04:37 PM
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Most Euro countries have hefty gasoline taxes and a good portion of that tax money goes to funding public transit and bicycle transit projects. You see well designed (wide lanes, good visibility, clear right of way, etc.) bike lanes everywhere in Europe, even in downtown areas. The USA, on the other hand, is mostly suburban sprawl. When gas prices go up in the USA, the money goes to oil company profits, not to transit projects.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:38 PM
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I doubt most people commute by bicycle in Sweden, either. In the cities, most probably use public transport or cars. A larger percentage probably use mass transit and bikes than in the U.S., though. Why the difference? Here are a few reasons why bikes aren't as popular here:

Harsh climates in parts of the USA. Sweden may get cold, but does it get as hot as in many congested parts of the USA?

Longer commuting distances making bicycling impractical.

High-speed roadways with no attractive and safe lanes for bike use.

An inter- and intra-urban transportation infrastructure that was built for personal automobiles rather than those in Europe built first for walking and horses, and later adapted for rail and auto. Bicycles were a 19th century invention, popularized after the railroad and subway in Europe.

Few accommodations to allow comfortable and practical changing from cycling clothing to suitable work clothing in most cities, with bicycle storage and other necessary accommodations. Cycling might be fine for some jobs, but for those who need to meet the public in suitable clothing and not all sweaty, there are frequently
no acceptable accommodations.

Attractively low-cost cars and gasoline in the USA. Cycling is a lifestyle choice more than an economic choice.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:38 PM
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Our cities are spread over larger areas. I've never been to Europe, but I have heard that once you get to the city limits of Paris, the countryside begins immediately. No suburbs per se. Only on the East coast do we have cities that are dense enough I think to accomodate commuting as the Europeans do.

That said, I've been seeing a lot of folks commuting. Not just students and bums (is there a difference? ) but professionals. New Treks with flat bars and lots of them. So I think folks that have considered it are beginning to take the plunge.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:38 PM
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Like Avalanche says, gas is cheap here in the US and most people can afford cars at a fraction of their annual income.
Besides, fast food restaurants will lose a portion of their revenues if drive-thru windows had to shut down...
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Old 09-21-05, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Avalanche325
Here are several reasons.
1. We often live too far from work.
2. A much larger percentage of the population can afford cars.
4. Gas is cheap. (relatively)
5. We are lazy.
6. How in the world are you going to take your kids to school? They are too lazy to ride a bike.
7. How are you going to talk on the phone, put makeup on, eat a sausage-egg and cheese crousandwhich, and drink a 64 oz super Big Gulp when riding a bike?
Hey, I have 2 cupholders on my bike! I wonder if I could put coffee in a water bottle...

I saw someone on the bike path last weekend talking on a cell phone. I just shook my head and laughed.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:40 PM
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My vote is for laziness. I ride my bike everywhere(when I haven't recently been hit by a car that is )
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Old 09-21-05, 04:42 PM
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I ride to work days I can, motorcycle the days I can't, only drive when I have to haul stuff or carry passengers.

But main drawbacks are:

1) No showers, makes formal attire impractical or downright rude
2) Auto drivers are largely bike-oblivious, if not downright bike-hostile
3) Commute society and typical scheduling often creates long distances between adjacent appointments, which requires motorized transport.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny99
You see well designed (wide lanes, good visibility, clear right of way, etc.) bike lanes everywhere in Europe, even in downtown areas.
Yup. There are so many designated bike lanes, city bike racks and bike paring lots everywhere. It is really a sight to see. This city really promotes the bike commuting lifestyle here.

In general, the people here look like they are in much better shape (thinner) on average than North Americans. Everyone seems to commute by bike here, the very old to the very young.

And yes, the Swedish women look amazing!

T.J.

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 09-21-05 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:46 PM
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if my commute wasnt along a rive trail i wouldnt bike commute. i don't trust drivers enough to ride along side of them
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Old 09-21-05, 04:52 PM
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I would love to do it but there are too many reasons not to.

Lack of showers as already mentioned. We do have them at work but not in my office. I would have to drop the bike 4-5 blocks from my office. By the time I get in, get a shower, get changed, walk to the office this would be a huge investment in time. Plus my ride to work world be pretty much of a death sentence on a bike.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:58 PM
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I do find it ironic that the American Public will protest gasoline prices by going to the pump and buying more gasoline!

Supply and Demand....Remember your economics class? That's the primary determination for prices at the pump.
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Old 09-21-05, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by The Fixer
Besides, fast food restaurants will lose a portion of their revenues if drive-thru windows had to shut down...
I've gone though drive though windows on my bike. This drive through girls get a real kick out of it.

Lets see....
Too far
No showers
Cheap Gas (ummm... maybe not anymore.)
Bad drives
No time
No cup holders
Bad weather
No motivation

Sounds like the run-o-the mill excuses I've given to myself in the past. If you really wanted to do it, you would.

I'm up at 6:00am on my bike by 6:20 (It's dark outside until 6:45 these days) After a 20 mile commute, I'm in the office by 7:20. Showered and in my office with coffee by 7:45. I get to ride home too!

I propose a personal challenge for all. If you do not commute to work, commute to work at least once next week. You may never want to drive to work again!

T.J.
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Old 09-21-05, 05:07 PM
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It should be noted that most of the "structural" inhibitions against cycle commuting in the US were not by accident. They were made that way as a result of choices that were made. Those choices ultimately benefited the few who profited by them, but have proven not to be beneficial to society in the long run.

There is a pretty substantial bibliography about just exactly why, how, who and when this took place. Be happy to email some of it to anyone who wants it. Much of it is interesting, but a lot of the more academic stuff is dull though.

-The Professor
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Old 09-21-05, 05:14 PM
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Affluence of the post-WWII 1950's found people able to afford to live outside the city limits (and get away from the noisy, dirty inter-city life) for the first time in their family histories. Transportation was cheaper and the developers had a field day building cookie cutter neighborhoods. This eventual expansion put every necessity out of reach (distance-wise) for a reasonable bike trip. That same "moving to the suburbs" mentality still exists and puts our work and shopping farther and farther away.

EDIT: As for coffee, Beaners has a 20 oz handle-less cup with a lid that fits pretty handily in my bottle cage. Tried it on a commute with my MTB along a rarely used bike path. I totally felt like a cager!
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Old 09-21-05, 05:15 PM
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Ok here is some background..

I hate the fact that I have a suv(an old cheap RAV4) but I ride it to work everyday..
We got 2 separate shower areas and lockers at work..
My attire is NOT formal.. Anthing goes..
I got a 12 mile commute-- Pieca cake...

So the why the f**k am i not commuting...

Roads are wicked bad...They are not designed for bikes and most are one laners with the crazy suvs, trucks and minivans..
No bike lanes whatsoever...
I wake up too late that I cant take 40 mins to ride in..(If anything, this is the biggest reason)
If I bike commute I cant do anything social in the city as I live and work pretty far from Cambridge/Boston..

A good combination of laziness and roads..
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Old 09-21-05, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by skinnyone
Ok here is some background..

I hate the fact that I have a suv(an old cheap RAV4) but I ride it to work everyday..
We got 2 separate shower areas and lockers at work..
My attire is NOT formal.. Anthing goes..
I got a 12 mile commute-- Pieca cake...

So the why the f**k am i not commuting...

Roads are wicked bad...They are not designed for bikes and most are one laners with the crazy suvs, trucks and minivans..
No bike lanes whatsoever...
I wake up too late that I cant take 40 mins to ride in..(If anything, this is the biggest reason)
If I bike commute I cant do anything social in the city as I live and work pretty far from Cambridge/Boston..

A good combination of laziness and roads..

OK. So, does that mean you are going to commute next week?

I'm sure you can find an alternate road that is not so busy. Think about it.

BTW: Most of my training comes from TT myself to and from work. Otherwise, I would never get in the miles I want.

T.J.

EDIT: It's 1:20 am here and I've got to cut away. Before I go, folks, consider commuting next week. You won't regret it. Do something for yourself and the environment. You can commute and feel good all day because of it or; drive to work and go hug a tree. Your choice.
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Old 09-21-05, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
OK. So, does that mean you are going to commute next week?

I'm sure you can find an alternate road that is not so busy. Think about it. Most of my training comes from TT myself to and from work. Otherwise, I would never get in the mile I want.

T.J.
EXACTLY!! My commute is approximately 12 minutes long / 3.75 miles. Perfect for a Power Interval or three short sprints. One road is pretty busy but school traffic keeps it to 25 mph for a stretch so I can keep up with everyone else.
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Old 09-21-05, 05:23 PM
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Old 09-21-05, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
OK. So, does that mean you are going to commute next week?

I'm sure you can find an alternate road that is not so busy. Think about it. Most of my training comes from TT myself to and from work. Otherwise, I would never get in the mile I want.

T.J.
I am commuting tomorrow... seriously... I have had a set of clothes at work for about 2 weeks... Been meaning to but just cant get into bed early.. However bad weather is creepin up and I will be lucky if I get in a few weeks.. with myself..

The back roads suck too.. Too many small roads and bad roads but.. where this a will, there is a way...
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Old 09-21-05, 05:27 PM
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I have a 3 mile bike commute to work. Another cyclist today asked me if I was also biking to work when we were stopped at the Grant/El Camino intersection. He said he was new to the area, and he had a 5 mile commute. I asked about his European accent, and he said he was from Belgium. He had some funky Euro frame. I wished him a good day when I had to turn off the Stevens Creek trail onto Middlefield.
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Old 09-21-05, 05:37 PM
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I used the excuse of bad roads for a while. It took me around 4 months of thinking about it to actualy convince myself to try commuting to work. By the way, we have no showers, no bike parking, no locker rooms, and I have to dress in "business casual" meaning no shorts. When I finally got around to trying it, I found that I loved it. The roads which initially seemed scary I now find perfect for biking. They are too narrow to share so I just take the lane and the cars wait. They might yell and honk but at worst, they are an annoyance that makes me ride harder. I should thank them I've driven to work about 10 times since April of this year and haven't driven since sometime in June I think. I hate the thought of driving in now. I need to get a trailer so that I can bring in large packages to mail (which was a cause of a couple of those days of driving).
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Old 09-21-05, 05:57 PM
  #25  
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I dont bike commute cuz I work from home . Seriously, if you want to do it fine and Im personally all for it... but I dont think it should be pushed on others who dont want to. It's like religion... just leave the atheists alone.
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