U.S. Still Missing Bike Lessons from Europe

Bicycling is growing in popularity in the U.S., but it still isn't considered a serious form of transportation as it is in Europe, according to this piece from Yale Environment 360.

Writer Elisabeth Rosenthal compares the cycling experience of the U.S. with European cities and finds major differences.

"When we talk about "bike friendly" cities in the United States, most are mere college towns and none boast more than 6 per cent bike commuters. According to the United States Census Bureau's 2009 community survey, 76 percent of Americans drive to work alone in their cars each day, while only 0.6 percent arrive by bicycle.

What's going on here? One key component that has enabled Europe's successful bike revolution, I think, is not infrastructure, but sociology: While Americans still view bicycling as a form of exercise or recreation, a tectonic shift in attitudes has taken place in many parts of Europe, where people now regard bicycling as a serious form of urban mass transportation."

Full Story: On Biking, Why Can’t the U.S. Learn Lessons from Europe?

Comments

Comments

Misinformation About Prospect Park West Bike Lane

Despite her claim that she backs bike lanes, Elisabeth Rosenthal is spreading misinformation that makes it harder to keep the Prospect Park West bike lane by saying that everyone in the neighborhood is against the PPW bike lane.

In fact:

A poll found that neighborhood residents support this bike lane by a margin of 3 to 2.
http://www.streetsblog.org​/2011/04/01/jim-brennan-po​ll-finds-3-2-margin-of-sup​port-for-ppw-redesign/

Hundreds of people attended a rally to support this bike lane.
http://www.streetsblog.org​/2010/10/21/hundreds-rally​-in-support-of-prospect-pa​rk-west-bike-lane/

Opponents have had some success not because of their numbers but largely because one of their leaders is Iris Weinshall, who is Sen Schumer's wife. There is currently a freedom-of-information request to get the emails from Weinshall's CUNY account to learn more about her political activity on this issue.
http://www.streetsblog.org​/2011/07/11/cuny-refuses-t​o-disclose-weinshall-email​s-about-ppw-bike-lane/

This is the same Elisabeth Rosenthal who recently wrote a front page article in the NY Times saying:

Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy.
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL.
Cities in Europe are taking steps to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation;.
...http://topics.nytimes.com/​topics/reference/timestopi​cs/people/r/elisabeth_rose​nthal/index.html

This article was much criticized by environmentalists for its claim that sustainable transportation makes people miserable. Rosenthal obviously has an odd idea of what it takes to build support for alternative transportation: you are not going to win backing by saying it makes drivers miserable.

Rosenthal seems to specialize in finding people who are "irked" by sustainable transportation. She obviously did not try very hard to find people who are part of the neighborhood majority who support the PPW bike lane.

Charles Siegel

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