Friday, February 19, 2016

Simply Riding a Bike - Acknowledgement, Support, and Momentum

In 2012 I noticed a significant surge in bike riders in our community of 40,000 population. Today, it is nearly three-fold—by my unofficial observation—commuters dominating the increase more so than seasonal riders, though fair weather weekend cyclists have certainly gained traction since 2012.

Nationwide, I've noticed that bicycle manufacturers are creating more city friendly bicycles with a trend towards simple, efficient machines. Clean styling, lack of decals, promoting simplicity over complicated gear systems, packaging bikes with racks, fenders, baskets, bells, lights, etc. Linus, Public Bikes, and Breezers immediately come to mind.

I've also observed a flurry of bicycle bloggers rethinking what they want in a bicycle (including myself), re-imagining the perfect bike style that will suit their needs. Some folks are pairing down their fleet, investing in one or two bikes. It appears that functional, uncomplicated bikes are making a comeback.

In our region, the past two winters have seen a huge increase in year-round commuters, attributed to education, updating city infrastructure, the rise of the fat bike, and several bike loving organizations connecting through social media, pushing Burlington to take notice of projects that will help our city become more pedestrian and cycling friendly. If this kind of ridership and awareness happens in our cold environment, I can only imagine what's going on in milder climates.

Even with the drop in gas prices, I believe the rise in recreational and transportation cycling is here to stay. Simply riding a bike for exercise, errands, or commuting has wedged itself into the fabric of Burlington.

Are you seeing a similar boost of riders in your community and is it seasonal or year-round?


  1. I am at a wonderful advantage (or disadvantage, depending on one's view, I suppose) of being able to see a fairly heavily traveled roadway from my kitchen and backyard. It's not a main thoroughfare in town, but busy enough because of schools and the lack of bridge/road fixes since our flooding in 2013 that it maintains a near-constant parade of traffic. I am always a little surprised by the continued frequency of those on a bicycle traveling through, even when the weather turns to inches (or feet) of snow, or even when pathways are iced over. It does make me happy to see people continuing to ride through it all though. I expect this bicycle traffic will get heavier as we have friends opening up a bike shop just down the street very soon.

    Sometimes, I wonder if I'm creating the increase in numbers in my head, but it does seem that more regularly I see people out on their way to work or getting about town more consistently than years prior.

  2. Based on nothing more than hunch, I feel like there has indeed been an increase, especially in commuter cyclists, but here in London Ontario it feels like it happened a couple of years ago and has been static (or even decreasing slightly) since. Could be I have just become used to the new numbers.

    1. Unfortunately there's been a rash of cyclist deaths and accidents in the past two years. One reaction would be to stop riding because of fear but it seems to be the opposite. There's current support for legislation, safer roads, etc. Also, there's some controversial backlash to a Complete Streets pilot project in the works right here in Burlington, which has caused a huge contingent of cyclists doing some on the ground canvasing, campaigning, and demonstrations, to get a vote passed to allow the project to continue. Anyway, I'm pleased to see that ridership is still on the rise.

  3. I'm happy to report that I'm seeing the same thing here. I've also noticed more year-rounders, though that's not nearly as big of deal here in the south (I'm in Memphis) as it is where you are. We're getting much better infrastructure, which definitely helps.


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