Posts Tagged ‘Bikes Belong’

Keeping the invisible bicycle riders invisible

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

From what we’ve heard, Portland is a fine U.S. bicycling city, but that doesn’t mean it’s a relevant model for all cities. That’s a point many national bicycle advocates seem to miss.

We were reminded of that with this recent post by Bikes Belong embracing the city of Portland’s four distinct categories of bicyclists:

  • Strong and fearless
  • Enthused and confident
  • Interested by concerned
  • No way, no how

These categories have limited application in some parts of Detroit, like Midtown or the Central Business District, but for much of the city, they don’t apply. It’s not an inclusive model.

We love the folks at Bike Belong, but embracing this Portland model for all for all of America shows a disconnection with urban areas like the city of Detroit as well as invisible bicycle riders.

Who are the invisible bicycle riders? They don’t fit the stereotyped bicycle rider model that you see in bicycle magazines or on web sites. They use bicycles as transportation but if they could afford a car, they might choose one instead. They don’t have the latest and greatest bicycle — it’s a tool not a lifestyle. They probably don’t wear a helmet. They may be new arrivals to this country and they’re likely to be male. We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they were more likely to suffer from crashes.

And they probably do not complete the surveys or studies used to create and support the Portland bicyclist model — certainly even Portland has invisible cyclists.

It’s not just about the cars

The other disconnect is this model’s focus on sharing the road with cars.

Survey after survey and poll after poll has found again and again that the number one reason people do not ride bicycles is because they are afraid to be in the roadway on a bicycle. They are generally not afraid of other cyclists, or pedestrians, or of injuring themselves in a bicycle-only crash. When they say they are “afraid” it is a fear of people driving automobiles. This has been documented and reported in transportation literature from studies, surveys and conversations across the US, Canada, and Europe.

Detroit has very low motor traffic volumes on a majority of its streets. Sharing most roads is not a big deal when you have your own travel lane or two. Certainly there are exceptions such as the major spoke roads (e.g. Jefferson, Gratiot, Woodward, Grand River, Michigan, and Fort.) Arguably, Detroit bike lanes in many cases serve more as advertisements and for driver education.

At Complete Streets workshops and focus groups, Detroiters have said their primary concern is public safety, not from cars but from insecure vacant structures, stray dogs, the lack of public lighting, etc. Perhaps this helps explain our rapid growth of neighborhood group rides on well-lit bicycles.

Of course, another major issue is most Detroit neighborhoods do not have a bike shop.

These are issues can found in varying degrees in urban areas across the U.S.

If we are committed to building an equitable transportation system, we must be committed to being inclusive, not just of all bicycle riders, but of all parts of the country.

Take the pledge with People for Bikes

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

During the National Bike Summit, Bike Belong announced a new initiative to engage more bicyclists at the grassroots level. Their goals is to “…gather a million names of support, to speak with one, powerful voice to make bicycling safer, more convenient and appealing for everyone.”

Every day, millions of Americans ride for their health, for the environment, for their communities, and for the pure joy of bicycling. But until now, only a fraction of riders have stood up to help improve bicycling in America. is going to change all that. We’ll build on the expert work of existing bike advocacy groups — our partners — to develop a powerful movement with the clout and influence to get things done. That means promoting bike-riding on an individual level, but also sending a unified message to our elected leaders, the media, and the public that bicycling should have their full support.

You can help them reach their goal by making the pledge on the People for Bikes web site.

Bike Rentals at the National Conventions

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Bikes Belong, the bike industry advocacy group certainly seems to be making some smart political moves right now.

Their latest is a partnership with Humana to provide 1,000 free bike rentals at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. The program is called Freewheelin’ and so far it’s been a huge success in Denver.

Just one day into the Democratic National Convention, more than 1,400 convention delegates, visitors and Denver residents are ready to vote yes … for Freewheelin. The innovative bike-sharing program from Humana and Bikes Belong recorded 1,429 rides, 2,937 miles ridden, 92,000 calories burned and a carbon-footprint reduction of just more than one metric ton.

“If the first day of the DNC is any indication, bike-sharing has tremendous potential in the U.S.,” said Jonathan Lord, M.D., Humana’s chief innovation officer. “Riding a bike is great for your body, great for the environment, and a lot of fun. So many people are returning their bikes with big smiles on their faces, reminded of all the fun they had riding bikes as kids.”

Here’s a video showing the program in action.

There are additional details on the Bikes Belong web site.

It’s Official: Bike Sales are Skyrocketing

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
Sue Moretto and Harriet Saperstein ride in Detroit

Sue Moretto and Harriet Saperstein ride in Detroit

It certainly seems like there are more people riding bikes recently. Now Bikes Belong has surveyed bike shops around the U.S. These shops are seeing a significant increase in sales.

Here are the highlights:

The majority of retailers who responded said their sales of transportation-related bicycles, accessories, and service have increased in 2008 compared to 2007:

  • 73% said they are selling more bikes.
  • 84% said they are selling more accessories.
  • 88% said they are selling more service.

Is this increase in sales because of high gas prices? Most retailers who we surveyed think so:

  • 95% of shops said customers cited high gas prices as a reason for their transportation-related purchases.
  • 80% of retailers said gas prices were helping them sell more bikes for transportation.
  • 86% thought accessory sales were getting a boost.
  • 89% said they were selling more service because of high gas prices.

Many new customers are dusting off old bikes and bringing them in for repair. There appears to be a surge of interest in riding bicycles for short trips, errands, and commuting.

Flint is becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

sharrow pavement marking for bike routesBikes Belong grant awards were recently announced.

Congratulations Flint!

This is a well-deserved nod for the regional bike efforts to make biking easier and safer in Flint. (And we’re jealous of you having sharrows — perhaps a first in Michigan.)

Five designated and aspiring Bicycle Friendly Communities will receive funds to help them make bicycling more safe, convenient and appealing places to ride.

These grants, designed to pinpoint specific needs outlined by each community in their Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) application, help pay for bike plans, technical assistance, pilot projects and innovative cycling initiatives.

Flint, Michigan
The Safe and Active Flint Coalition will receive $5,000 to improve bike safety and awareness through a Sharrow program. Flint received honorable mention in the last BFC round. They identified Sharrows—pavement markings encouraging cars and bicycles to share the road—as key to marking the first designated bike routes in the city.