Why Everyone Will Ride a Bicycle by 2030

This is a guest post by David Veibl. David is a contributing writer for Cruiserbikes.com too, a source for the best cruiser bikes online.

Let’s begin this post with a little disclaimer.  No one – not even Sylvia Browne – knows exactly what the future holds.  While any psychic couldn’t give you next week’s lottery numbers, s/he could still give you a detailed pattern analysis that would tell you the numbers most likely to show up in next week’s drawing.  That’s what we humans do.  We predict.  We have all kinds of tools that help us see what the future holds.  There are even entire industries dedicated to predicting the future – the weather and climate industry, the stock market, and urban planning, to name a few.

Look at Portland.  In 1996, Portland’s urban planners predicted that bicycling would become more widespread in the following decades.  At that time, the Portland Bureau of Transportation reported an average of 3,257 daily bicyclists.  Since then, the number has jumped by 560% with an average of 18,257 daily bicyclists in 2011!  Portland’s predictions came true, and it looks like the number of bicyclists will only increase in the years to come.  If the numbers continue to rise consistently, Portland will see at least 102,240 cyclists on the road in 2030!  Luckily, the city is prepared for such a situation.  A couple years ago, they rolled out the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, a plan that accommodates the increasing number of cyclists with a new bikeway facility design, a stronger bicycle transportation system, larger bicycle parking areas, and so much more.  It’s expected to be complete by 2030.

More people are riding bikes now than ever 

If there’s anything past statistics tell us, it’s that the number of cyclists will continue to climb dramatically year after year.  The increasing number of cyclists on the road could be due to soaring gas prices, concern for the environment, or the need to stay healthy and in shape.  Whatever the reason, bikes are becoming more and more popular.  In fact, the National Bicycle Dealers Association reported that 19.8 million bicycles were sold in the U.S. in 2010, while the Bureau of Transportation reported only 4.6 million cars sold that same year.  BMW sales are dwindling while Schwinn cruisers are selling like hotcakes!

Portland isn’t the only city to prepare for the growth in bicycle commuting

Major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as countless small towns across the country, are installing more bike lanes, increasing funding for bicycle facilities, and encouraging their residents to travel by bicycle.  Now, since New York installed more than 200 miles of bike lanes in 2009, 1 out of every 24 vehicles on city streets is a bicycle.

 Possible reasons behind the bicycle phenomenon

With the economy the way it is now, it’s hardly a surprise that more and more people have taken up bicycling.  The economy might not be the only reason, though.  If the economy miraculously improves in the next decade or two, it’s highly unlikely that people would ditch their bikes for cars.  By then, the habit of riding a bicycle for short trips would probably be so ingrained that people wouldn’t even hear of driving to the bank on a warm sunny day.  People would get so used to seeing cyclists everywhere that they wouldn’t think twice about buying a new bicycle and joining everyone else in the bike lane on their way to work.

Also, by 2030, communities everywhere will have expanded so much that it would be rare to have to travel to the next town to pick up a gallon of milk.  With everything available nearby, people living in urban, suburban, and some rural areas would hardly have to travel more than 5 miles to get something.  Almost every road would probably have a bike lane, so it would be far easier and safer to travel by bicycle.  People are far more environmentally conscious now than ever, and with scientists constantly finding new information about the environment every day, we’re paying closer attention to reducing our carbon footprint.

Do you think that, when 2030 rolls around, bicycles will be the main mode of transportation?  Why or why not?

A Little Heat Training

A biking buddy I haven’t ridden with for awhile contacted me the other day. He’s been off the bike lately, and wants to get back into it. He suggested we do a few Veloway laps after work. While I knew it would be a hot ride, I readily agreed.

John juggles his young sons, his 29-inch mountain bike and his road bike with his other obligations. He’s ridden rides of decent length before, and last year even did a guest post here about riding the Atlas 4000 kickoff ride under hot conditions.

But he says he’s slowed down quite a bit, and just wanted to turn the cranks in the heat to build up some tolerance for the temperatures he’ll face when he tackles organized rides again next month.

I had my concerns driving home this afternoon. The forecast had called for highs in the 100s most days of this week, and the car thermometer showed 107 at around 3 p.m. After getting my stuff together and setting off to meet John at our agreed-upon ride time of 4:30, I saw that it had dipped — to 106 (41C). One of the official weather stations in Austin recorded a record 109 today. My wife was none too pleased that I was heading out in such conditions.

She forgets, though, that just last weekend she played golf in temperatures almost as high, and had a great round. I slathered on the sunscreen, put lots of ice in the water bottle, and headed out.

The Veloway wasn’t completely deserted, but I saw only a few other bikers rounding the track. While I waited for John, I made sure the bike was parked in the shade, so it wouldn’t be a hot seat when I climbed back on for our laps.

Any shade is good shade.

We set off at an easy pace. John said he’d been averaging about 12 mph lately, and wanted to see if keeping up with me posed any special problems. He monitored his heart rate as we rode, and noted with satisfaction that it was at a reasonable level.

The Veloway is a 3.1-mile circuit, and John said three laps would be plenty for him. Coupled with my ride from home and back again, I would clock about 15 miles. In this weather, I figured that was just right.

The heat wasn’t too bad. Really. Some breeze would have been nice, though. Since we weren’t doing intervals or anything stupid like that, I thought the ride was just the kind of easy day I could always use. I noticed that John was pushing a bit to keep even with me, and once, when I kicked it into high gear, he lagged behind for about half a lap.

John catches and passes me.

After three laps, we pulled into the canopy that offers some shade at the head of the track.  Sweat glistened off both of us, but otherwise, we were fine. That is, until John suggested it was time to head to the parking lot so he could get his bike back on the car rack. I set off to see if any water was left in the coolers at the parking lot entrance (nope), and when I got there, I looked back to see John still under the canopy, staring straight ahead.

“Take the picture already, so I can go refill my water bottle!” The Noob with the borrowed bike.

My average speed for the trip, including the run between the house and the track, was 14.7 mph, just a tad slower than I usually do. If John was adding 2 mph to his typical speeds, and on a day like today, that could really stress him. He’ll be fine if he keeps up his riding this summer, but today was a good reminder to take it easy in extreme conditions. I wonder how some other acquaintances of mine did. They planned a 60-miler late this afternoon!

A New Ride (Temporarily)

Went out Saturday morning for my ride. Even got an early (for me) 7:30 a.m. start. Lubed the new chain, clipped on the computer, put in the water bottles, and got on. But on my first attempt to shift, even before I’d left the driveway — SPRONG! — the shift cable broke where it joins the right side shifter.

See that cable that’s parked under the right handlebar? The one that just ends? Yeah, that’s it. (Click to make the photo bigger.)

Son of a!@#$%^&*! This is the second time this has happened to me. The first was in the fall of 2010. And I know what it means — it means I’ll be buying a new shifter. Trouble is, they’re expensive, and after some unexpected costs this month, we find ourselves with too much month at the end of the money. I’ll have to hold off on the purchase for 10-14 more days.

But what good is being in a bike club if it doesn’t have members with spare bikes? A couple of emails later, my friend Rick agreed to let me use his 10-year-old titanium bike. He’s riding his new carbon fiber Cervelo, and is even faster than he used to be. And he used to be fast.

I picked up the bike Saturday afternoon, and rode it around the block to see what kind of changes I’d have to make to get it right for me.

Right off the bat, a pretty major one. My bike is 56 cm. Rick, who is a big, tall guy, rides what appears to be a 61 cm bike. My feet reached the pedals, but just barely.

I lowered the seat all the way, and moved it up as far as it would go. It’s still a bit big, but I can ride it with a modicum of comfort now.

I skipped the club ride Sunday. They were going to do the Dam Loop — one of my least favorite Austin bike routes — and it was going to be hot!! today. Because I was on a new bike, I opted to do the Saturday morning route I would have done yesterday. If my shifter hadn’t broken.

Riding a familiar route on an unfamiliar bike makes the experience seem brand new. The bike is an Airborne, titanium frame as I’ve said, all Ultegra, nice Easton EA 90 wheels with Michelin Krylion tires, and a triple crankset with a 53-tooth big ring. The model is the Zeppelin, of all things. Airborne apparently got out of the road bike business, because their website features mountain bikes and such, with their cross bike model the closest thing to a road bike. As Rick once told me, “Back in 2002, this was state of the art.”

The Airborne Zeppelin.

I think I’ll like my experience with the triple. My average speed for today’s 29.5-mile ride was 15.3 mph. (Just an estimate, since the bike is not equipped with a computer. I know the route distance, and noted my start and end times on my watch — then deducted time stopped at lights to get my total on-bike time.) Anyhoo, it did get me up some hills with a minimum of fuss.

That average speed compares nicely with my recent speeds on that route. In fact, it’s a smidgen faster than most. I’m looking forward to riding this bike over the next two weeks. I’ll post an update on riding a triple titanium later, after I’ve gotten a few more rides under my belt.