Monday, July 4, 2011

Critical Mass

During a BBQ this weekend with classmates and invited Dutch transportation engineers I was able to ask my question- Was there a major push at some point in time to increase bike facilities and was there resistance to the expansion of bike facilites?

The answer? It was car drivers who asked for bike facilites. They wanted the bikes out of their way. Since the 1970's there been a steady increase in facilites. There was no out-of-the-ordinary push to increase bike infrastructure.

In the 1970's the Dutch Bicycle Union was started.

This youtube on the Bike Union website is amazing!

Well, that answer dosen't help us figure out how to sell more bike facilities to the autocentric masses and get people out of their cars in the US.
What this answer is telling us is that we need a critical mass of cyclists. We need so many cyclists using the streets that autocentric folks beg for bike facilites.

Is this too dangerous and too radical for a majority of possible bike riders in the US?



  1. I agree with most of what you wrote here. I do think we have to do a lot of our work as "this is what we do" and not start the conversation as we want to get you out of your car. Most people are selfish, they want someone else to bike so it is easier for them to get where they want to go and that's okay. I am not entirely sure that's how the Dutch have approached this, but one thing seems sure is that it has been more about carrots than sticks and they have priced things like parking, fuel taxes, etc appropriately to send signals to the public.

  2. How do we in the US get people out of their cars and onto their bikes? I think a major part of the solution is children. People that live a bike lifestyle and have children should be and are teaching them that bikes should be one of the main ways of transportation in their lives. Families using bike trailers or one of those cool Euro cargo bikes to take their children with them to the markets or school or daycare. Teaching children not to rely on cars...or even buses (why wait for a bus when you can ride?) I my opinion, is going to be a major way we change attitudes towards a better biking community in the US. I'm not saying that I hauled my children around on my bike from the time they are born....quite the opposite! I like so many people....especially those that love bikes; ended up having children and started driving a car again...a lot! and my bike became more recreational and less lifestyle which depressed me a lot over the past several years. Getting the children to daycare and picking them up, getting to work on becomes hard to continue the bike only lifestyle when children come into your life. I would like to know how the Dutch or other Europeans families manage with small children and infants while keeping the bike lifestyle a major part of their day to day. To make a long story short, we currently do not own a car....and now that my children are older (Jakob 7 & Ella 4) For the past few months, we have been only biking. Biking to the store, to daycare, to work. I'm proud to say that my bike has once again become my major if not only mode of wasn't so much of a lifestyle change as it was getting back to the lifestyle and relationship I once had with my bike.

    Keep up the posting Pammy, I'm very interested in what you are's a major topic of conversation at our house and among people we know. My main interest is in the "family biking lifestyle' and how to do it and keep it alive. Anything you come across about Euro families and biking let me know.

    Take Care...your biking cousin Jen.