Friday, March 03, 2017

Bike News Roundup #2


Bike sales are down, but 17 million is still a lot of bikes:

According to the Bicycle Recycler and Industry Trade News, national bike sales to retailers fell in 2016 by 8 percent. That comes after the National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA) reported a 3.4 percent decrease from 2014 to 2015 with 17.4 million bikes being sold. Sales have averaged around $6 billion annually in past years. “It’s a no-growth market right now,” said Lynette Carpiet, editor of Bicycle Retailer and Industry Trade News. “That’s what is driving things.”

But sales of those devilish motor vehicles are up.

A reader writes:

The SFMTA 2016 Annual Report "Delivering Progress" shows on p.26 a 'Select Project List' and itemizes 34 projects under the heading "Completed." Seventeen of them are bicycle projects.

I wrote about this "report" in December. It's essentially a PR exercise, full of happy-talk and grinning Muni passengers and drivers, including on page 5 the claim that the MTA has "more than 5,900 employees." That's true, but for a document with a 2016 date that number isn't current, unless in the unlikely event the agency has recently dumped a bunch of workers. The numbers keep going up. As of 2015, the MTA had 6,263 employees.

A candid story in Citylab about one cyclist's emotional rides (Ride Angry:The best thing about bicycle commuting is the rage):

Bike-boosters insist that the bother and safety concerns can all be mitigated with the right equipment, clothing, and state of mind, but I’m here to tell you that Gore-Tex and fancy pants will only get you so far. Bike is suffering...Getting a daily fight-or-flight workout is one of those little-discussed advantages to bike commuting; the flip side is that you have to be willing to be afraid. And you will be. Despite the strides made in the development of protected bike lanes, cyclists in most U.S. cities are tiny woodland critters amid large and dangerous predators. To ride is to live with constant, twitchy fear. Those who complain about the comparatively paltry numbers of bike commuters in the U.S. seem to have unreasonable expectations for the average Americans’ eagerness to be terrified.

The story features the writer's therapeutic rage about the dangerous behavior of drivers, even though most cycling accidents are "solo falls" that don't involve another vehicle.

A comment to the story:

It's nice that the author has found a silver lining, but these issues are why I gave up on biking. It doesn't feel safe, and I'm not much of a risk-taker. On a bike, you don't have much control over the risks (e.g. cars, road conditions), and you're vulnerable if something does happen.

That is, when something goes wrong, it's the cyclist that gets hurt. At least the Citylab writer is realistic about the dangers and still chooses to ride his bike. The comment is even more realistic. Why do it? Because bikes are now an integral part of the overall progressive project and part of every city transportation discussion, though the numbers don't show that cycling is a significant transportation "mode." 

I of course think bikes are being irresponsibly oversold. Even children are now encouraged to ride bikes in the city! (see Children and the bike cult and the thoughts of bike messenger/author Robert Hurst: "Is cycling dangerous? Yes.")

City cyclists apparently think City Hall can/should make cycling safe. They are now creating a martyrdom cult around cyclists who have been killed on city streets. Those people are among "the fallen" in a traffic war that pits cyclists against motor vehicles---and a local government that's supposed to make riding a bike safe, which is clearly impossible (see Streetsblog's body count in the traffic war and More fatalities in the bogus traffic war).

Carolyn Tyler

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