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Big is relative
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Tomakit said:
I get a paper subscription else I'd link you guys to the article. But for those that have access to it, there's an article on commuting by bike on the front page of 'Section D' - Personal Journal.

Seems it's chic to commute by bike. :)

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/1_0029.html?mod=1_0028
Remember when mainstream "discovered" mountain biking? I am waiting on EXTREME COMMUTING!!!!!!
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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I'd love to read the article. Maybe you could post the text?
 

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The Cycling Commute Gets Chic

To Encourage Biking, Cities
Add Paths, Racks and Lockers;
To Shower or Not to Shower?
By KEVIN HELLIKER
May 11, 2006; Page D1

Commuting to work by bike has renewed appeal right now. On top of health benefits -- like offering a chance to exercise without taking extra time -- it saves on the growing cost of fuel and even carries a certain cachet at the office.

A growing number of cities are making it easier to ride your bike to work -- erasing hurdles big and small, from securing bikes safely downtown, to taking bikes on public transit, to finding a discreet place to shower.

Eager to reduce traffic jams and pollution, cities including Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; and Portland, Ore. are adding biking-policy departments at city hall, constructing bike lanes or building bike stations where riders can park and shower. A 2004 survey of American cities found that more than 80% planned to build new bikeways. A new contest over which American cities are friendliest to cyclists has attracted 160 municipal contestants, each bragging about its bike lanes and lock-up racks.

Nationally, a bill introduced in the Senate last month would give employers a tax incentive to offer employees $40 to $100 a month to cycle to work, and a similar bill is pending in the House.

Buses and trains are allowing bikes to come on board in cities including Albuquerque; Washington, D.C.; and Boulder, Colo. In Chicago, Allison Krueger, a 26-year-old botanist, now can ride three miles to Union Station, catch a train to the suburbs, then cycle three more miles to her office. "The best part of cycling is the sheer joy of riding past people stuck in traffic," she says. Plus, she adds, "Biking is definitely fashionable in Chicago."

There are other signs that the cities' efforts are working. New York City opened a 17-mile bike trail on the West Side of Manhattan, along with bike paths on the bridges connecting the island to Brooklyn, in 2003 -- and has seen a 50% increase in cyclists since 2000, to 120,000 cyclists a day, according to advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. A three-year-old bike station in Chicago is poised to sell out 500 memberships for the third year in a row.

Since Louisville installed bike racks on its buses four years ago, cyclist boardings have nearly doubled to 91,000 in 2005 from 48,000 in 2002. And the percentage of commuters using bikes rises a point for every mile of bike lane added per square mile of American cities, said a 2003 study on bike lanes in the journal Transportation Research Record. The name of the study: "If You Build Them, Commuters Will Use Them."

One of the newest urban innovations: bike stations, which an increasing number of downtowns from various California cities to Washington, D.C., have added or are considering adding. Bike stations offer a safe place to park, along with lockers, showers and repair shops. The Chicago bike station, built and owned by the city, is run by a private company, which charges members $99 a year for showers, towel service and a personal locker. Denver, Seattle and Berkeley, Long Beach and Palo Alto, Calif., all have similar bike stations.

The rising price of gas is adding to the appeal of cycling. Shipments of bicycles in the last year have been extraordinarily strong -- one of the two best years in the past two decades, says Tim Blumenthal, director of an industry coalition called Bikes Belong. "There's a lot of buzz right now about high gas prices," he says.

"The 5,000 miles I'll cycle this year are 5,000 miles I'm not putting on my car's odometer and fueling with high-priced gas," says Eric Carter, an attorney in Portland whose two-wheeled commute has helped him knock off 30 pounds.

In a trend reminiscent of previous public-health fashions, affluent professionals seem to be leading the charge of commuters on bikes, just as they were among the first groups to embrace organic food, to stop smoking and to return to feeding babies healthier breast milk rather than formula. "So far, it's a white-collar movement," says Dave Growacz, a Chicago biking official and author of the book "The Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips."

Cycling has some serious disadvantages. A cyclist may arrive at work dripping sweat and with helmet-mashed hair -- and that's in good weather. J.P. Morgan Chase Vice President Luz Byrne no longer cycles on rainy days. "I got tired of washing the mud out of my hair in a sink," she says.

Managing the logistics of work-out clothes and office apparel is difficult. Jerry Roscoe, a cycling attorney in Washington, D.C., arrives each morning in biking clothes, grabs a shirt and suit from his office, goes to a nearby gym to shower, then returns to the office ready to work. "It's complicated," he says.

Of course, many bikers don't shower upon arriving at the office. Mr. Growacz's book offers tips on how to wear a helmet without messing up your hair.

The biggest downside of cycling is wrecks, particularly with cars. Per kilometer traveled, a cyclist in America is 12 times likelier than a car occupant to be killed, according to a 2003 American Journal of Public Health article.

Yet the number of cyclists killed in America fell nearly 10% to 724 during the decade that ended in 2004, according to federal statistics. And studies show that as the number of cyclists increase, collisions with automobiles decline because motorists become more alert to bikers' presence. As cycling in London increased 100% from 2000 to 2005, the accident rate for cyclists fell 40%, according to Transport for London.

The danger of cycling is far outweighed by the benefits, says Rutgers University's John Pucher, a professor of urban planning specializing in cycling issues. Cycling builds muscle, deepens lung capacity, lowers heart rate and burns calories. "The health benefits of cycling outweigh the health risks by two to one, if not something like five to one," says Dr. Pucher, whose voice mail describes him as "car-free John."

Write to Kevin Helliker at [email protected]
 

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Q&A: Growing U.S. Bicycle Habit
May 10, 2006 10:34 p.m.

Charlie McCorkell, who has owned Bicycle Habitat in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan for 29 years, talked with WSJ.com's Matt Phillips about what has pushed commuters onto their bikes in the past, the impact of the current high gas prices, and more. Mr. McCorkell, 56 years old, is also a former executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a bike and pedestrian advocacy group based in New York. The conversation has been edited.

* * *
WSJ.com: How has bike participation changed over the last 20 years or so?

Mr. McCorkell: I started commuting in New York City in 1969. At that point, when you went over the Brooklyn Bridge there were six flights of stairs you had to deal with. If you saw two or three other cyclists on your commute, you thought you saw a lot. I'd get spit at at least once a week by drivers … who didn't feel I had any right to the road. The situation in the last 35 years has obviously changed dramatically … The change is, you know, it's like something from the sublime to the ridiculous almost, there are so many cyclists.

Q: What accounts for the growth?

A: You have so many forces in society that help it along. We have people who ride because they don't like the war in Iraq and they think it's an oil war. We don't see too many people who come in because oil prices have gone up, gas prices have gone up, but they do exist. Every time somebody gets [delayed or has a bad experience] on the subway, you know, they think, "Maybe, I should ride my bike."

And there are so many cyclists out there that they see people riding. It's no longer an occasional thing, you know, you're no longer, like, the odd man out … I like to think, to borrow from [Malcolm] Gladwell's book [The Tipping Point], we've reached a "tipping point" in New York City for bicycle riding. The more people who ride, the more people who will ride, and the more awareness there is of it. I mean you can't walk down a street any more without seeing bikes [locked] onto poles. You can't stand in the street for more than two minutes in even the most deserted areas of New York without seeing a bike rider.

Q: So you don't see a big upsurge from people turning to bicycles for relief from gas prices?

A: I haven't seen that yet … The problem is people who are going to drive in New York City and Manhattan, they're going to pay $40 to park their car for a day, or they're going to risk a ticket or something else. [For them,] the gas price is such a minuscule part of the transportation cost for a car.

What I am hearing … is that people are not jumping in their car to drive five blocks, to pick up a quart of milk. They'll jump on the bike. I've heard a couple stories along that line. And this is especially people who live in Brooklyn, where I live, who tell me … that's not worth it for them to get in the car anymore. And so we've seen some minor changes there and that could lead to longer-term changes, where they find out that biking is actually a reality and you can do it. And usually the biggest surprise to people when they hop on a bike is when they're going seven, eight miles in New York City that it's so much quicker by bike than by car or subway or anything else.

Q: Do you have any sense of how changes in New York City would compare with the rest of the country?

A: New York City I think is a real trendsetter at this point. You know we have the oldest bike lane in the country, in Brooklyn, the Ocean Parkway bike lane. You have the busiest bike lane in the country on West Street [in Manhattan], by far … and it's what? Five years old? Six years old? The increase [in] bicycling is just phenomenal … and as I said the more people who ride, the more people who ride.

I know people who commute in San Francisco and I just don't know how they get them down the hills -- but they tell me they go around them for the most part. A lot of bike riders there. Portland, Ore.? Off the scale. Really good bike community. And on the smaller side Davis, Calif. -- everybody bikes. Boston is a very popular bike town at this point. So I think we're seeing them in cities where there's the transit option. I think there's a trickle down, that people stop driving, they get on the subways, then they get on their bikes.

I think what you'll see is when gas prices go up people might abandon their car and go to the subway. That might be their first choice and their second choice might be memories of the personal transport thing and they might try a bike.

Q: Was there any kind of seminal event, or great fad that spurred bike usage on? Something along the lines of the jogging boom of the 1980s?

A: I think the biggest touch point would always be the [New York City] transit strike back in 1980. [It] was just a huge awakening for people. … I think it was April 1 or something, but it was fair weather, so hordes of people came out and never went back, you know, just hordes. And that was probably the biggest percentage increase I ever saw of everyday cyclists. And it was courtesy of the transit authority. People saw it's a lot better than the subway.

Q: Have you ever seen impact from high gas prices, going back to the 1970s?

A: There was a much more of an impact when you couldn't buy gas every day … Because that became, not a money issue, it became a time issue … People were investing huge amounts of time in gas rather than huge amounts of money. Now we're investing money. And people who can afford to drive … the gas is not a significant part of the process in New York City, especially if you have to deal with parking. So the gas price is kind of small.

But when it was a time issue for these people, they were much more likely to seek out an alternative. So if they had long gas lines or rationing of some sort, all of the sudden you'd probably see a lot more people switching over … If you were going to spend an hour in line getting gas, you would think about what your alternatives were.

Q: How did you first get into cycling?

A: I was living at my parents' apartment in Brooklyn … and I was going to school in Manhattan, in the village, and I was riding the subway one day, and it was the middle of January. I don't remember why, but something must have happened on the train that day, I don't remember what it was, but I got off the train and said, "I'm never riding the train again." … I went over to Stuyvesant Bikes, which is now out of business, and bought a bike … My parents almost died when I brought it home because they thought it was the most juvenile thing in the world. I was 19 and had never owned a bike before, so it was a real radical departure for me… and the first time I rode it home, my hands were freezing off, but I remember I made it home like 15 minutes quicker than I would have. And there was no frustration with the train. At that point, I think the subway was 15 cents. I was saving 30 cents a day. I was a student. It was great; it fit all my needs.

Write to Matt Phillips at [email protected]
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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Thanks for posting the articles. I enjoyed them.
 

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"I was country before country was cool"

Great article in WSJ!

60% bike commute for the past few weeks. Lost lot of weight, eat less too.

Parking at work for car not a problem, unless you call 200 yard walk a problem.

Parking spot for bike in unused office.

9 miles one way with good climbs.:thumbsup:
 

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Another positive commuitn article in Columbus Dispatch

More take a liking to biking as gas soars
Two-wheelers getting more use as alternative to fuel-thirsty vehicles
Friday, May 12, 2006
Sherri Williams
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Kate Seguin used to spend her mornings burning gas and time as she searched for a place to park at Ohio State University. Now, she heads for a prime spot closer to her office — she rides a bike to work.

"It’s convenient for me because I live so close," said Seguin, 24, a financial education and counseling coordinator at the university’s Student Wellness Center. "I figured, why spend all that money to drive a short distance? "

Buying a bicycle for her 2-mile commute, she said, "was just a one-time expense to save money over the long run."

With soaring gas prices, more people are opting to leave their fuel-guzzling four-wheel vehicles parked and buy two-wheel musclepowered bicycles.

The National Bicycle Dealers Association estimated that 2005 sales of bikes with 20-inch wheels or larger would approach 14 million. That’s the most since the record 15 million sold in 1973, the first of the bicycle boom years after the Middle East oil embargo.

At Once Ridden Bikes, 2489 Indianola Ave., sales of new and used bicycles increased by almost 10 percent the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year, said owner Joe Kitchen.

"More and more, the people who are shopping for bikes cite that as a reason they are getting one instead of driving," he said of climbing gas prices.

Seguin, of Clintonville, spent $200 for the bicycle she bought in March. She said she saves about $35 a month on gas, as well as $45 a month on parking fees.

She’s also saving on maintenance. It’s time for her Chrysler Sebring to have its next oil change, but because she hasn’t driven it as much since then, she’ll wait a little longer.

Last month, Michelle Gubola, 39, and her husband, Lee Fredette, 41, of Dublin, bought bikes to be less dependent on gas, more conscious of the environment and more healthy.

They already have used their bikes for trips to brunch, the library and the grocery store.

"It seems wasteful to use your car for small trips when you can gain health benefits and enjoyment from riding a bike," said Gubola, a lawyer.

Others are feeling the push to purchase a bike solely from their wallets, said Kurt Lehmkuhl, owner of the Westerville Bike Shop at 29 W. Main St., where he said sales are up 20 percent.

"People come wanting to bike to work since they only work a couple of miles away," Lehmkuhl said.

When gas prices spiked last year after Hurricane Katrina, bike sales boomed, Lehmkuhl said, and they have continued to grow steadily.

Sales of gear designed to make commuting easier have also increased at his store, Lehmkuhl said.

The same is true at Bicycle One, 82 Mill St., in Gahanna, where sales of bags, fenders and commuter-style helmets (more rounded than sweptback touring helmets) are up, salesman Jeremy Russell said.

For only the second time in 30 years, his associates sold 28 bikes in one day on a recent Saturday, said Don Frazier, owner of Bicycle One. He’s not sure if that’s because of higher gas prices. But customers have said they want to drive less and save more, Russell said.

"They’re trying to use their cars a little bit less and if people have a shorter commute they’ll use a bike," Russell said.

Those who already have bikes have been getting them repaired, said Dan Negley, owner of Breakaway Cycling in Delaware.

"Most recently, what we’ve seen are people fixing up their bikes with the intent to leave their car home for some of the shorter trips they have been using their car for," he said.

[email protected]
 

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A couple of lines in the WSJ article raised my eyebrows.

"..affluent professionals seem to be leading the charge of commuters on bikes, just as they were among the first groups to embrace organic food, to stop smoking and to return to feeding babies healthier breast milk rather than formula."

And I thought college campus commuters and Beijing factory workers were the leaders in bicycle commuting but now I know to thank the affluent professionals for it. Along with organic food and breast feeding.

Also it makes it sound like the Berkeley bike station has showers, towel service, and personal lockers.
 

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"Per kilometer traveled, a cyclist in America is 12 times likelier than a car occupant to be killed, according to a 2003 American Journal of Public Health article."

That's an interesting statistic... It makes it sound like cycling is dangerous, but of course, most cyclists drive at least 12 times as many miles as they ride, so the resulting total risk is still higher in a car...
 
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