Stories like this often make my day -- NYT Economix: The Bicycle Dividend. You see, when cycling is part of one's everyday transportation equation it is often easy to get into a rut. This can be due to a number of factors: The emotional effects of dealing with belligerent drivers; the physical effects of riding a bike over distance in all types of weather; fielding off-base comments from non-cyclists who regard bike transportation as freakish; and generally concluding that society is not moving more in support of cycling, but simply polarizing the parties involved into more or less 'for' and 'against' positions.
But when an article like this comes along it reminds me of two things: 1) There are numbers, the result of more frequent study and analysis, that support the benefits of biking on many different fronts (health, environmental, economic) as well as the benefits of investing in bike infrastructure; 2) These articles are popping up more often on higher profile news outlets which signifies greater awareness and interest in the topic. The article is a short read and well worth the time.
I'm not expecting motorists to cheer me or stop and ask to shake my hand any time soon. However, I will bask in the glow I feel whenever I read one of these articles. While the pro-cycling message is agreable to me, that is not the biggest theme I take away from such press features. What really brings me hope is that Americans are beginning -- out of necessity and lack of legitimate counter-argument -- to examine the myriad destructive legacies of building our culture and shaping our daily lives around the automobile. Bike lanes and trails are good, but this realization is the source of truly profound change yet to come.
The article closes with this quote: "Hats (and helmets) off to the bicycle activists and policy makers who work to promote bicycle paths and lanes. They are spinning us all in a good direction." Agreed.
I'd like to take a couple revolutions backward, however, and tip my hat to the vigilant cyclists who have quietly maintained a road presence in the decades up to now, before cycling (specifically for transportation) was enjoying more frequent and positive PR. Many such individuals have been my role models and sources of inspiration. No matter their motivation for biking, they're visionaries all the same.