PHOTO CAPTION: Leonardo diCaprio caught using Citibike in New York City.

Rise of the Bicycle Now Unstoppable

Salon's Lindsay Abrams speaks with writer and bike activist Elly Blue about the inexorable rise of the bicycle in the 21st century.

Published: 14-Jan-2014

It’s hard to deny that bicycles are having a moment. Last year saw New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Columbus all get bike-share systems of their very own — joining Boston, London, Paris, Dublin, Moscow, Hangzhou, Montreal and many, many other cities throughout the world. Increasingly, people are talking about bikes as a replacement for cars (and even trucks), debating the best ways to design bike lanes and bike-friendly intersections, dreaming up futuristic bike paths and, above all else, taking to the streets on two wheels.

But bicycling’s recent rise to the spotlight isn’t just a passing fad, argues writer and bike activist Elly Blue. Instead, she says, growing numbers of people are beginning to recognize the tangible benefits — to themselves and to their cities — of trading in cars for self-powered transportation. And the research is backing up their experiences. Blue’s new book, “Bikenomics,” draws on a growing body of academic work, along with her own involvement with the country’s bicycle movement, to make the economic case for bicycles. As for the people who insist, in the face of such evidence, that bike commuters are a scourge on humanity? Blue maintains they’re just bitter from spending so much time stuck in traffic.

Blue spoke with Salon about the bike movement’s recent rise to prominence and the way in which old stereotypes no longer pass muster. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.


Commuter combining best of both worlds, taking his bike aboard commuter train in Britain.

In addition, walking is up 20 pct, as is taking the train, 42 pct and light rail and underground (subway) up 45 pct.

Cyclist ride along New York City's 9th Avenue bike line.

Local stores along 9th Avenue bike lane between 23rd and 31st streets have seen a 49% increase in sales, compared to an average of 3% for Manhattan as a whole.

Critical Mass cyclists ride down San Francisco's Polk Street in 2008

It turns out that reducing automobile access in urban cores not only encourages more active mobility like cycling, but actually leads to improved business for local firms.


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