In a previous post, I mentioned the Golden Age of Cycling, which occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. And from the most current numbers, it looks as if we might be poised for a second Golden Age.
Rutgers University professor John Purcher has crunched the most recently available cycling data, and his numbers are pointing to a renaissance in cycling. Here are the highlights:
- Bike commuters doubled between 1990 and 2009.
- Transportation cycling (going to work, shopping, running errands) is outpacing sport cycling (fast guys in lycra). 54% of all cycling trips in 2009 were for transportation, an increase of 11% in 8 years.
- Cycling fatalities fell 21% between 1998 and 2008 (Remember my post about cycling safety?)
(Source: "Bicycling Renaissance in North America?," Pucher, J., et al., 2011, Transportation Research A, Vol. 45)
What does this mean to you? Well, if you are thinking about jumping into cycling -- particularly transporation cycling -- it means that you are beginning to see a variety of bicycles and gear designed for this purpose. When first lived car-free, as a dazzling young urbanite in Boston, there was no such thing as a "commuter bike." I had to make do with a faux-racing bike with its drop handlebars and uncomfortable-but-speedy design. Now there are dozens of brands that make commuters, from Jamis to this fine selection, including a very classy Pashley.
It also means that your safety, which is already pretty good, will get even better. Because multiple studies have shown that the more cyclists there are on the road, the safer it is for all cyclists (there is also some evidence that suggests that more cyclists make the roads safer for motorists as well).
For me, cycling makes a wonderful transition from work to home. Instead of remaining compressed and tense behind the wheel of my automobile, my ride home is now filled with sunsets, stars, the smells of the seasons and the gentle hiss of my tires on the road.
And that is what makes my daily commute a daily pleasure.
Dr. Avery Jenkins is a chiropractic physician specializing in the treatment of people with chronic disorders. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 860-567-5727.