Biking Craze: Revolution or Fad?

In the 1960s and 70s, America witnessed a bike boom that sounds very similar to today's. Although it petered out, Tom Payne argues why contemporary circumstances have altered the long-term viability of a bicycling revolution.

As cities across the world seek to ease congestion and attract young professionals through investment in bicycle infrastructure, bike use is surging. "Portland hipsters are taking to the streets on fixies, east Londoners are dusting off vintage Raleighs and Sydney corporates are swapping golf clubs for lycra… As a result, the growth in cycling numbers has been immense in many cities worldwide," says Payne.

But unlike America's ‘bike boom’ of the late 60s and early 70s, which saw bike sales increase from 2.5 to 15 million between 1963-73, Payne thinks the current period of growth is sustainable. "We’re aware that we can no longer keep producing without recycling, we can no longer all own large homes, and we can no longer all drive to work – not only do our cars not all fit in our cities, but we are also running out of the very resource that drives them," he notes.

"The car will not simply disappear and bicycles will not suddenly take over our streets. But as we look for alternative solutions to our current transport woes, cycling is suddenly looking like a pretty smart option. Rather than just a fad, I’d argue that today’s boom will be sticking about for a while. Just like the revolution of a wheel, we are perhaps, returning to where it all began."

Full Story: Bicycle Revolution or Urban Fad?

Comments

Comments

Here to stay!

The bike boom is sustainable! We just need to plan for it. I just finished reading The Great Inversion by Alan Ehrenhalt and it explains that there is a shift in the demographics of American cities as more middle and upper class are moving back to the core of American cities for the urban experience. The urban experience being high density and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. Urban planners and the bike advocates this is the perfect cocktail to redefine biking in core cites across the United States. A large demographic change that is the perfect market for the bike as an alternative mode for transportation. We just need to create the right carrot to encourage more people to bike and cities to plan for it.

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

Wear your city with style!

100% silk scarves feature detailed city maps. Choose from six cities with red or blue trim.
$55.00