The US has never encouraged cycling as a practical mode of travel, and as a result, biking to work is a rare and hazardous activity, with four times the fatality rate of some European countries. A Rutgers University study shows how that can change.
"John Pucher and Ralph Buehler of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University recently examined how three of the northern European countries with the highest rates of bicycling managed to get so many of their residents onto bikes. Pucher and Buehler contend that what's worked in Europe would produce significant results in North America - if governments take the necessary actions.
In the US, bikes are "rarely used for practical, everyday travel needs," Pucher and Buehler say; the principal reason is that cycling conditions here "are anything but safe, convenient, and attractive."
Pucher and Buehler's observations appear in "Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany," an article that has been circulating on the Internet and will be published in the July 2008 issue of Transport Reviews. The authors disabuse American readers of the notion that the US is so inherently different from Europe that biking will never catch on here in a big way. They point out that biking wasn't always pervasive in the three European countries they studied. Quite the contrary, from 1950 to 1975 the rate of biking in Europe plummeted, and in many European nations, such as Britain, it hasn't shot back up. But the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany introduced policies, programs, and designs that ended up making cycling both safer and more common."
Thanks to The Intrepid Staff