Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cycline is Booming Again!

Our friends over in Copenhagen posted a link to this very interesting video. Notice that the majority of the bikes in this video would look right at home on the streets of Copenhagen today. Now get out there and Bike Omaha.


erik said...

They would look right at home because you don't need high-technology to ride a bike for transportation or leisure--only in the US, dominated by hyper needs-creation marketing, do we think that anything other than basic equipment is necessary for getting around. It's a symptom brought on by the confusion of sport with practicality, and it should be transcended.

It starts with sales staff in our shops, and with the recommendations we give for others. Let's get people on bikes that encourage the future we embrace, and that don't break the bank for the sake of problematic unnecessary faux-upgrades.

Biker Bob said...

Good points.

I have to admit that I often gravitate towards viewing cycling as a way to stay in shape or as a form of recreation. So that has probably slanted the direction that Bike Omaha has taken till now. We continue to refine what our "why" is and that should eventually start affecting "what" we present on the blog.

Thanks for the encouragement Erik.

dale said...

Wow, that was a cool video. Even in 1937, bikes were considered and used for urban transportation in Europe but not in the US. Why?

In Herlihy's "Bicycle: The History", "It is difficult to understand, lamented Bicycling World, why the bicycle as a means of utility should be in such comparatively restricted use in this country." (322) This was in 1902 I believe.

Herlihy goes on to state that after the bicycle boom of the 1890's, the European's continued to refine the utilitarian bike while the American designs were 10-15 pounds over the 25 lb sport versions during the boom.

Cheaper but too heavy was one problem. But even more important, Americans didn't demand utility bikes after the boom like the Europeans did, and got.

mtb's, comfort bikes, hybrid bikes are what we sell the most of today. These are entry level bikes that people choose to use for recreation or fitness. They don't want to, are afraid to, or the distances are impractical for using them to get to work.

I think the bikes are already out there. It is the mindset of bikes as transport that needs to be "sold". We need education (elementary age through adult), infrastructure enhancements, laws that severely punish dangerous auto drivers, and economic insentive - the price of auto transport needs to go up.

'08 saw a decrease in auto mileage for the first time in decades because of $4/gal gas, plus the crash of the stock market. Though we had an increase in people comeing in for "commuting" bikes, the concern about finances limited bike sales.

I think the emphasis on commuting to work is not viable for most because of the distance to travel. Only current long distance cyclists (10-20 miles distances) will even consider commuting to work.

We need to emphasize the short less than 1 or 2 mile trip to the neighborhood grocery store, restaurant, etc. As they practice utilitarian biking, their better physical shape, but more importantly, stronger mental fortitude will lengthen the rides. In the end, mental commitment to bike transport most be planted in people's minds before they will ride. Ideas precede action.

Our emphasis needs to be on planting ideas - easily accomplished actions - like riding 1 - 1.5 miles or less as the first step to make bike transport mainstream. Even with our urban sprawl design, drawing 1 mile circles around these destinations will cover a large percentage of the city. These 1 mile routes can be accomplished via neighborhood streets.

dale said...

(First time I've hit the 4,096 limit for a comment)

The current omaha commuter map is a good first attempt but it needs to be driven by the goal of mainstreaming bike transport. Thus, neighborhood shopping centers and strip malls should be identified and the easiest-to-pedal-routes to neighorhoods put on the map. Many routes already there just need a feeder to the destinations.

The next step is to identify the best connectors between these destinations. As people taste and are encourage to use bike as transport, people will go 2-3 miles for utility reasons.

Finally, identify the large destinations like downtown, benson, south o, which has been partially done with the 20 miles loop connectors.

This last step is actually the easiest because they are the least in number and you look for the flattest route between them.

Lets view the Keystone, Big Papio, and West Papio trails as beltways. From downtown to the Keystone, the flattest way is via Leavenworth. Leavenworth is the bridge from West O to Downtown.

Except for the north and south ends, anyone west of the keystone should get to the keystone by the easiest way and then procede down Leavenworth to get downtown. This would also make Leavenworth a great corridor to place bike counters for east-west numbers.

Likewise, identify the two least hilly, direct routes from Big Papio to Keystone, and from West Papio to Big Papio.

Identification: neighborhood routes skinniest lines, distination connectors medium thickness, and main transit corridors the thickest.

These coupled with color code changes using intuitive green, yellow, orange, red for best to least friendly routes, and the map becomes a more friendly ,mainstream user tool, let alone avid cyclist tool.

AOJules said...

Dale, I am totally on board with your thinking re: finding connectors from the trails. I think this will be a great transitional thing - get people riding on the trail... then eventually they will consider branching out to other destinations east/west of there if we can find them a safe and less hilly route.

Also, I would strongly advocate for identifing routes that connect middle/high schools to the trails...(i.e.: if I attend Westside, how do I get there once I get off they Keystone or Big Papio Trail?)