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Lets Dream. How would America change if 50% of all transportation was done on bikes?(26 posts)

Lets Dream. How would America change if 50% of all transportation was done on bikes?Kristin
Oct 22, 2003 7:11 AM
I was thinking about this on the Hilly Hundred. The event drew over 6,000 people this year, and I would guess that makes it one of the biggest cycling events in the nation. Along the route, bikes out numbered cars by at least 30 to 1. If the car to bike ratio were 50/50, what would change?

* The overall physical health of average American's would increase
* The work week would likely change - and look a little more like Europes
* I suspect that people would become more laid back and less aggressive
* Eventually, there would be separate roads for bikes and cars - and usable, longer distance dedicated bike routes.
* Speed limits on shared roads would be reduced perhaps - negative for drivers.
* Northerners would be COLDER in the winter!! :-)
* Our economy wouldn't be as performance related and our nation would lose some financial status. Is this a bad thing or a good thing?

For those of you from places (or having been to places) where more people travel by bike, how does that impact the culture there?
Oct 22, 2003 7:20 AM
most importantly, it would end suburban sprawl, and restore many cities to their former glory. 30-70 mile commutes wont be happ'nin on bikes.
disagree with less urban sprawlinnergel
Oct 22, 2003 8:54 AM
People don't move out to the boonies because they want a 30-70 mile commute to work. No one thinks, "man it would be great to spend 2-3 hours a day in traffic." They move because they:

1. can buy a bigger/better house in the suburbs than in the city
2. want to live in a home with a yard, not just an apartment or condo
3. want to live where it's quieter than the middle of a city
4. want to live in a community with (perceived) lower crime rates

I could probably come up with a bunch more reasons, but these are good to start with. Just my $0.02.
you missed the underlying reasonSteve_0
Oct 22, 2003 9:30 AM
people decided they CAN buy a bigger/better house in the burbs, CAN have a yard, CAN live where its quiet, and CAN live in a lower-crime area because the CAR makes it possible.

NO ONE will ever move 50 miles from their job without a car or at least a direct PT line.
dreaming and dreamingwspokes
Oct 22, 2003 7:45 AM
Alright..I can dream. I do this mostly at work anyway...daydream. Probably improve health care...reduce insurance rates...probably more roads specific for bikes. less crowding...I like the lack of urban sprawl...instead of letting the inner towns run down to nothing, it would improve living conditions because people would want to commute forever. Losing some financial status is not necessarily bad...and possibly not an outcome either since the rates would be decreased, less money for road repairs due to reduced traffic and it is not like bicycles break down the roads after a year. There are so many potential benefits...

I like the idea!
Just picture.........................................AlbaniaMR_GRUMPY
Oct 22, 2003 7:54 AM
People would want bigger and bigger bikes.
People would want the high Tech alternative.......Donkeys
Many people would freeze on their way to work.
The transportation problem could be solved if people lived in tar-paper shacks, next to where they worked.
Things would be so bad, people would long for the "Bush" years.
My take on ChinaScot_Gore
Oct 22, 2003 7:54 AM
China is a mix of cars and bikes. The percents vary depending on the city, but I bet it's never less 20% bikes.

The overall physical health of average American's would increase - I'd say this is true of China and bikes are a priciple contributor
The work week would likely change - and look a little more like Europes - The workweek in China is longer and is often 6 days a week and it's not because of the bike.
I suspect that people would become more laid back and less aggressive - This is true of China, but I don't think the bikes have anything to do with it. It's a centuries old cultural component and aggressive law enforcement IMHO.
Speed limits on shared roads would be reduced perhaps - negative for drivers. - There are no speed limits in China, people drvie and ride as the conditions allow.
Northerners would be COLDER in the winter!! :-) - Many buildings in China don't have furnaces, so they are colder but the bikes not the reason.
Our economy wouldn't be as performance related and our nation would lose some financial status. - I Don't get this one, so no comment.

The worst pollution I've ever seen anywhere (and I've been to Mexico City) was in China. The worst air and water quality I've ever experienced was in China. The poster below is absolutely correct, cities rule, there are no suburbs or sprawl. In a city the size of Chicago, you get past the 294 loop and it gets positively rural.

my 2 cents
My point on the economyKristin
Oct 22, 2003 8:03 AM
Part of what has grown our economy so large and why we are such a prosperous nation are large corporations. These need large cities with big talent pools to draw from. This is what causes urban sprawl. You can have it either one way or the other. I don't see a way to support small, centralized communities and still have large corporations. Aquisitions would become a thing of the past, and our economy would change considerably. The nation would not be as prosperous.
And what a nice dream it is.Dropped
Oct 22, 2003 7:56 AM
If more people cycled, perhaps they would be more sensitive towards cyclists when they did need to use their cars. Maybe. We have lots of cyclists here in Portland but car/bike relations seem to be pretty bad. A lot of that is because of bikers who don't obey traffic signs or rules. But then, there are lots of idiots in cars, why shouldn't there be idiots on bikes?

We have comparatively little urban sprawl, and tons of bike lanes. Whether those things are because of all the biking or have caused all the biking, I don't know. I can even think of a few busy intersections where bikes have their own separate paths to make the crossing safer.
re: Lets Dream. How would America change if 50% of all transportation was done on bikes?kjkrueger
Oct 22, 2003 8:06 AM
Well, here's my $0.02. I'm assuming we're talking about prolonged effects from an instantaneous change from current conditions in the US.

- General tele-commuting would increase.
- Businesses would be more open to installing showers in their buildings ;-)
- Gas prices would increase (gas demand would go down, so the Gov would have to increase taxes to make up the diff.)
- US would start more "gas wars" (to keep $ per barrel lower)
- Sales of SUV's would decrease and sales of hybrids/high mpg/electric vehicles would increase (due to higher gas prices)
- Average price of motor vehicles would increase (so the automakers could make up for the loss of HUGE profit they get now on SUV sales).
- Some automakers would go out of business, or switch product focus (loss of demand)
- Public transportation (busses, trains, etc.) would increase
- TV/magazine/billboard advertising would change dramatically.
- Air quality might increase marginally.
- Gov. might require licensing and taxing for bikes (using road improvements/bike lane improvements as an excuse)
- Traffic laws would get some re-writes to make them more bike-friendly
- Prices of cycling-related items would decrease slightly.
Which new bike would you buy: Colnago, Litespeed, Chevy, Ford?NatC
Oct 22, 2003 8:20 AM
Did you hear that Chrysler just bought Cannondale?
Oct 22, 2003 8:25 AM
Introducing the new Carabike: aluminum space-frame, 2-wheel disc brakes, and seating for 7 (side airbags optional)
You know someone would buy a Hummbike...NatC
Oct 22, 2003 8:31 AM
So gargantuan that it takes up two spaces at the rack. So wide that the side-view mirrors knock you off the bike path. 1000c wheels with which to run over your feet.
You know someone would buy a Hummbike...kjkrueger
Oct 22, 2003 8:49 AM
Yep. It'd make this look wimpy:
what is the stat... 40%, 50% more trips are 3 miles or less?PdxMark
Oct 22, 2003 8:25 AM
A surprisingly large number of trips are short distance. Folks could still have their 30-40 mile commutes, but a huge fraction of car trips are pretty short. Making those short local trips on bikes would not take any more time at all. Trailers can hold tons of groceries.
60% of trips are 4 miles or less (nm)ramboorider
Oct 22, 2003 1:12 PM
I think my oranges would be moldy by the time they got here.djg
Oct 22, 2003 10:35 AM
Also the 10 hour drive to the beach in South Carolina with (understandably) screaming babies in the back of the minivan would turn into quite an adventure, as opposed to just a miserable mistake.

But I do like riding to work.

I'm not sure what you mean by our economy wouldn't be "as performance related," but it doesn't sound good. OTOH, I think that the economy would do just fine if there were, say, a doubling of the number of regular bicycle commuters.
Finally, a hint at a big issue...Brooks
Oct 22, 2003 1:01 PM
Truck, and to a lesser extent train, transportation of goods is huge in the US. Thinking globally, how much energy is spent in shipping grapes, oranges, Nikes, etc from other countries? If all goods were produced locally how would that effect the economy. If you could only buy apples in the fall instead of year-round, would you enjoy them more? Would the big mono-culture agriculture become more diversified? Back to family farms? Just a few comments on one aspect of the transportation equation.
That will always be a dream, Americans like fat & lazy. nmMike P
Oct 22, 2003 10:50 AM
Cynic. nmKristin
Oct 22, 2003 10:51 AM
I believe you are correct though.
realist nmJS Haiku Shop
Oct 22, 2003 11:11 AM
Oh yeah...NatC
Oct 22, 2003 11:13 AM
Someone would eventually strap a motor onto his bike. It would catch on. Then someone would add two more wheels to make it more stable. It also would catch on. Eventually someone would make the motor bigger and enclose the passengers in a canopy. Pretty soon everyone would have one and the original design would become more or less a kids' toy.
Good topic: Emphasize efficiency and self-sufficiencyvelocity
Oct 22, 2003 1:14 PM
As many of us know, a properly-equipped bike is great for running errands. It's an efficient way to transport yourself while at the same time exercising. You're self-sufficient. In the U.S., though, most give up on their bikes as soon as they get a driver's license/car, prefer the "safety" of exercising inside gyms and driving cars. I've noticed however in many European cities, even large ones, it's perfectly natural to see grandma or a whole family on bikes (mom with two wees; dad with two wees) running errands on their bicycles. Why? I don't have an easy answer. It isn't just in cities with designated dedicated bike paths.

If only we had a President capable of dreaming about the place of bikes in our transportation future! Heck if only we had a sensible President with a sensible energy policy...

But, after all, the dreaming starts with us.
Good topic: Emphasize efficiency and self-sufficiencykjkrueger
Oct 22, 2003 1:59 PM
--I've noticed however in many European cities, even large
--ones, it's perfectly natural to see grandma or a whole
--family on bikes (mom with two wees; dad with two wees)
--running errands on their bicycles. Why? I don't have an
--easy answer.

Could it have something to do with $3 per gallon of gas. And/or parking availability? Those would be significant incentives for me.
Good topic: Emphasize efficiency and self-sufficiencyemckee
Oct 22, 2003 5:28 PM
Don't forget that most of these cities we're referring to (be they European, Asian, or otherwise) grew up prior to the advent of a car. If you wanted to get from point A to point B, you were going to do it on foot, horseback, or horse-drawn carraige. It took much longer to get anywhere, hence places of interest were located much closer together for convenience. In the USA, and in California in particular, the auto has always been a fact of life. As such, there is no incentive to place things closer together. And so urban sprawl was born.

we need better public transportation systems!velocity
Oct 23, 2003 7:48 AM
and aren't most car trips 3 miles or less?