IMAGE: Jonathan Hill, Willamette Week
A story in the Willamette Week looks at an annual decline in cycling in Portland. There's plenty of spin and number manipulation going on, but it's an interesting read regardless.
As is often the case, the comments to the story are more enlightening than the story itself.
The story, and some comments to the story.
The drop in gas prices has been a significant factor, I think, but another has been the increasing stridency of those anti-bike drivers out there.
It seems that there are increasing numbers of people who can't express their angst any other way than to intentionally endanger bicyclists.
If you can't get people to listen when you tell them why Obama's a muslim an a socialist, and they call you a crackpot when you explain that global warming is a liberal hoax, you can at least make yourself feel better by running a biker off the road.
So where a year or two ago there were plenty of ignorant careless drivers --and still are --what's changed is the number of intentional acts by drivers against bikers. They know they'll never get prosecuted, even if they kill someone.
Casual bicyclists are less likely to use their bikes these days because when they do, they know their lives will be endangered by every teabagger in town.
JJ Gildersneeze: Sheesh where do you folks come up with this stuff? The Church of Green has ruthlessly co-opted area bicycle-riders, which are now synonymous with this stupid climate hysteria, as a result. You've put a Church of Green bulls-eye directly between my shoulder-blades, and you would then blame this on rightfully outraged motorists?
I ride a bike in this town. Arguably, I've skidded down the street more miles on my rear-end than many in the Church of Green have ever even ridden. Yet, I couldn't care-less about hysterical environmentalists, or their liberty robbing agenda. Ostensibly, at least, you'd be erroneously lumping me in with a bunch of Bible-thumping whackos, and I resent that very much. It is you, man, you, that are the problem from head to toe. Your insistence upon including my transpo mode of choice in your asinine agenda gives people a one-stop-shopping experience for sticking to you, and your ridiculous agenda. This by messing with me in traffic while I'm riding my bicycle. I've ridden here for over two decades, car free, and it wasn't until you idiots co-opted my mode, did motorists start chucking beer-bottles at me, and trying to run me off the road.
Thanks for that. Thanks for lumping me in with what essentially amounts to my political nemesis too, I really appreciate it. Now, get your stupid, asinine, agenda off my mode NOW!
So, is infrastructure really the problem? The two buffered bicycle lanes down stark and oak are rarely used. I carpool down that road everyday, and the most cyclists I have seen at one time from Broadway to Naito using the buffered lane is two. This is from when the buffered lane first opened, to now. A max of two. Most days don't have any cyclists in it at all.
So do we really need more infrastructure like that?
Infrastructure doesn't lead people to bike, even if it does coincide with high modal share in northern Europe. Tokyo has a high modal share too, and yet almost zero infrustructure. What leads people to bike are measures that make driving more costly. Denmark has a 200 percent tax on auto sales. Drivers tests in Germany are far more difficult and costs a lot more. Many European highways are tolled. The gas tax is much higher. Parking is scarce and expensive. Under such conditions, cities will see a lot of cyclists even without infrastructure. If Portland believes that a build out of bicycle facilities (some of which make riding more inconvenient and dangerous, IMO) will give us a modal share as high as that of copenhagen, it is mistaken.
I bike everywhere and don't own a car, but at least I have enough perspective to know that my Spartan lifestyle is not widely desired.