News / USA

US Urban Cycling 'Here to Stay'

Bike Commuters in Washington Double, Changing US Capitali
X
December 18, 2013 7:43 PM
The number of people in Washington who commute to work on bicycles has doubled since 2007 - a trend which is also taking place in other U.S. cities. And as VOA's Diana Logreira tells us, the U.S. capital is making some changes to encourage even more people to ride their bikes. Pam Dockins narrates her report.
“The cat is out of the bag!” says Greg Billing from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) when asked if urban cycling is in the U.S. to stay.

Billing is part of a group of two-wheel enthusiasts who are working towards smoothing the path for a new American mode of transportation - the bicycle.

Cities such as Washington, Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle and New York are experiencing this change, mainly among 20 and 30-year-olds. “They now own fewer cars and drive fewer miles than their parents’ and their grandparents’ generations at the same age,” says Ralph Buehler, an associate professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, and the author of a book about urban biking.

Money matters

For Marissa Smith, a recent college graduate working in Washington, biking is one of the cheapest and most equitable modes of transportation. "Almost anyone can afford a bike,” she said.

And as Greg Billing points out, “The money that people have in their wallets today is a lot different than what people had thirty or fifty years ago."

"There is less spending money; people are looking into ways to stay in the city,” he adds.

The fashion industry has not been left behind by this new trend. The wave of bike commuters has inspired a high-end clothing market that aims to combine safety with style.  Sarah Canner, owner of Vespertine, a New York-based boutique specialized in clothing for city riders, said in a VOA interview that she studies how people allocate their money.

“You might spend $60 to fill your gas tank but you might say, ‘Ohh, 60 dollars is too much for a safety vest,’ she said.  "But a safety vest can save your life and you can wear it for many years, while gas would only last for a week or two."

The challenge

However, the bike does not have it easy.  For decades, the automobile has been the symbol of freedom, the icon of the American Way, progress and industrialization.  After World War II, the auto assembly line drove America out of the post-war recession and helped establish the middle class.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were fewer than 8,000 cars in the United States.  Today, there are more than 192 million light duty vehicles registered, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

'Cool' mobility

Today the car is "losing its status symbol, and it’s becoming a mobility tool,” says Professor Buehler. The bike is no longer something you use in the park or ride for a workout, but is “something that gets you from A to B.”

A few years ago, the U.S. Census Bureau started asking Americans how they get to work, and since 2000 the number of bike commuters has doubled.

For many, pedaling to work is the only opportunity to connect with their local environment.

“People like the idea that they are supporting jobs in their community. So if it’s produced locally, that means that somebody is making it locally and they are being paid locally and the money goes back to the community and enriches the community,” said Sarah Canner.

Judging from the numbers, the new “cool” in the U.S. could be transitioning from fast, oil-powered and global-oriented transport to healthy, self-powered, locally-oriented transport.

But Professor Buehler says it's too early to tell whether the trend toward bicycling will last as the current bike generation  gets older.  “We don’t know what happens when they get to 35-40 years-old-will they then adapt to the lifestyle of their parents? Or will they remain different? Only the future can tell.”

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid