Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obligatory "High Gas Prices Lead to More Bicyclists" Story

I think that magic threshold number of $4.00 a gallon gas is no longer valid.  Try five or six to get people really looking to trade in their cars for bicycles.  To be sure people will grumble about paying $4 but we've been hovering too long around that number for it to have the psychological impact it once did.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the article from SFGate.  I like that they don't just focus on the bigger CA cities but talk about smaller places making investments in cycling infrastructure which makes it more pertinent to a city like Reno:


Among the first cities trying to get people peddling was Long Beach, California's seventh most populous city. The Southern California city installed the country's first bike transit center in 1996, and now features more than 120 miles of bike lanes and paths.

The city has seen a 50 percent increase this year in the number of people who bike and walk to work, said Allan Crawford, Long Beach's bike coordinator.

It's not only about getting people to cycle long distances to work — although that has increased, too. Cities are focusing on the short trips to the grocery store, or families getting the kids to school.

Short drives account for 37 percent of all car trips, and use a lot of fuel.

"Take any given point in the city and draw a one-mile radius around it, and you've got 10,000 people who live within that radius. Our focus is really on those short bike trips ... to the grocery store and to get the kids to school," Crawford said.

"The question is: How do we get people out of the mindset of getting into their car?"

This same question was asked in hilly San Francisco, where chilly fog and geography are a challenge for getting people to bike to work and school.

The increase in San Francisco cyclists since 2008 came after the city spent $4.5 million in public money on 23 miles of new bicycle lanes stretching from the bay to the Pacific Ocean. Dedicated, separated bike lanes have been sprouting up on streets throughout the city and have made cycling safer.

It's not just major cities reacting to residents' call for more bike-friendly projects.

Davis in Northern California has one of the highest rates of bicycling in the nation, with 17 percent of its 64,000 residents using a bike to commute to work and 41 percent calling bikes their primary mode of transportation, according to a study by the Bicycle Federation of America.

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