I’m thrilled to see more bikes on the street every day. The signs are everywhere that bikes are big.
Local symptoms include:
- the incredible blow-out success of SpokeFest,
- the growing turnout every year for Bike to Work Week,
- the Spokane City Council’s creation in 2008 of a bike/pedestrian coordinator position and adoption of the Master Bike Plan,
- support from the county and most of the cities for the SmartRoutes effort, in which we joined the Rails to Trails 2010 Active Transportation Campaign to seek an increase in federal funding for non-motorized transportation. (No new money yet but the coalition continues to work.)
I see more people–and in particular more women–riding Spokane’s streets. That’s good for all of us on two wheels, since collision rates decline as the number of riders increases.
On the national and global scale bikes are hip, bikes are chic, bikes are photographed because movie stars ride them.
This fashion trend isn’t as substantive as the policy wonkish stuff I care about, but it puts bikes in front of mainstream America, strips them of their Spandex and sweat image, and makes them more approachable, more everyday, than the elite zero-body-fat racing images. (As long as we don’t just replace those images with elite zero-body-fat movie star and model images.)
The increase in bikes isn’t just nice road bikes and well-dressed commuters, though. It’s also people hit hard by rising fuel prices that affect not only transportation but also food, and increasingly—as winter sets in—the ability to heat your home.
I would write more about this, but it’s already been said, and said well, by Dave Steele on these “Unseen Bicyclists” at Next American City.
Read it, and let’s talk about inclusion.
Living in West Central, I see a lot of those unseen cyclists. I see more of them than I do the “seen” cyclists. They don’t usually ride on the bike routes either, so they don’t even really get counted by the WSDOT/Cascade bike counts.
I think the man killed at second and Scott was one of these “unseen” types as well.
These guys are one of the main reasons I think we need bike education (and free gear) … them and children. But how do we reach them? That’s tough.
Because Dave is right, they more often than not ride down the wrong side of the street, weaving in and out of the (wrong) lane and the sidewalk. They almost never wear helmets and use lights at night about as frequently. I’m not sure how we don’t end up with more collisions than we already have, especially with the way people drive on the sidestreets where you’ll usually find these guys.