I can attest to some of the data below… for instance, weight loss. I lost about 20 pounds in a year of riding just 2 miles from home to the local MARC station, then another 1.5 miles from Union Station to my office. I admit I do little biking to shop, but I tend to combine trips, and if the store I want to hit is between the station and home, I stop along the way.
In the U.S. these days, more and more people are forsaking the automobile and other forms of transportation in urban areas, and taking to bicycles to get around (myself included). Many have achieved shorter commuting times or gained significant health benefits from riding, as well as saving themselves in commuting costs. (My ride saves me $100 a month, paying for my commuter bike in just four months… not to mention shaving 10 pounds off my weight and dropping my blood pressure by 15 points.)
All those cyclists have been noticed. It’s hard not to find articles, TV news stories, editorial comments and legal argument over the presence of bicyclists on America’s roads. Most of it is anti-bicycle: America’s motor vehicle operators have apparently decided that bicycles and their riders are hazards, to be removed from the landscape as soon as possible. And their voice is piercing—there are a lot more motor vehicle operators in the U.S. than there are adult bicyclists.
But if bicycles aren’t to be on the roads… where are they to ride? On the sidewalks, those much narrower spaces filled with pedestrians (another class that regularly argues with the motor vehicle operators over right of way), tree boxes, stairways and trash cans… where there are no rules of conduct and right-of-way to separate walkers and bikers… and which are not always available on every roadway? That’s crazy.
There are two hard facts to consider: One, that bicycles are wheeled vehicles, much faster than pedestrians, and so are better suited to the wider and smoother roadways than the sidewalks; and Two, bicycles are at a disadvantage on the roads, as the preponderance of motor vehicles on those roads has historically relegated everything besides themselves to last-priority status… second class citizens.