The New Business Cycle

breezer.jpg
The Citizen commuter bicycle from Breezer.

I think we can safely count this among the day’s major events. Today’s Wall Street Journal is running a lengthy piece on the growing trend of bicycle manufacturers making bikes for people to use as "actual transportation."

After decades of pushing models designed for recreation, from full-suspension mountain bikes to ever-faster road bikes, industry heavyweights are now moving into commuters — rugged specimens made for riding to work. Nearly every major manufacturer has a new or revised commuter model for 2007. They may look like 1940s Schwinns, but materials like aluminum and carbon make the frames lighter, while technological advances mean better brakes, shock-absorbing seats, smoother shifters and even electric power. The models usually come with practical accessories, like racks for carrying briefcases, fenders for splash protection on wet roads, lights that turn on automatically at dusk and big chain guards to keep legs and clothing away from chain grease.

Read on.

  • Great news. This kind of thinking goes a long way towards making daily biking more of a reality. Now if they’d only let me bring my bike into my office building I’d be all set.

  • I like this law:

    Florida just implemented a new state law that requires motorists to maintain a minimum three-foot distance when passing bicyclists — following similar legislation in Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.

    Simple. Any collision would be held to that standard and motorists would be considered more responsible for the crash if they did not leave enough room.

  • l

    I agree with Nick. I’m confident on city roads, not terrified by accidents (although not blind to their possibility), and don’t mind the extra physical effort of biking to work.

    But the only reason I don’t is because there is no safe place to park my bike!

    The building won’t let cycles in via any of the entrances, not even the loading dock, despite allowing hand trucks and carts stacked with boxes in at any time. (Having seen the way some delivery guys handle their hand trucks, I’d say there’s more potential to damage from them than from guys like me who actually like the place where I work.)

    My company would like to allow its employees to park bikes in one big empty room, but since it doesn’t own the building has to abide by the terms of its lease.

  • P

    L- buy a 50 dollar bike and lock it on the street.

  • Ben

    There’s some great motivation in the middle of that article:

    Whether many Americans will trade their cars for bikes remains to be seen. Sales of commuter bikes rose 15% over the past two years, according to Boston-based Bicycle Market Research Institute. However, at an estimated $900,000 in annual sales, it is still a small niche. Less than 0.5% of Americans commute by bike, according to the 2000 U.S. Census report. “There’s no way it will happen here,” says Bicycle Market Research Institute President Ash Jaising, who projects the segment’s rise in sales will slow to 5% to 10% over the next two years. “The roads are just too dangerous.”

    The industry marketing types realize it’s gonna take more than expensive gas to get people to switch modes. Maybe they would be less pessimistic if the Streets Renaissance campaign went national!

  • Mitch

    I’ll second P’s advice. If you ride a cheap bike, your finances will survive if the bike is stolen — and nobody will steal it anyway.

    My own commuter bike is a three-speed Raleigh that I bought used 22 years ago for $75. After 22 snowy winters the frame and the wheels show a lot of rust, which serves as “urban camouflage.” I keep it repaired pretty well, so it rides OK, but it looks pretty funky, and its resale value is close to $0, so it doesn’t get stolen.

    If I had to commute a long distance, I’d probably need nicer wheels, but for my purpose, a beater bike works very nicely.

  • Chandler drivers usually take the more elegant than the lower. Mountain bike riders a solid upper body, short legs often seem clumsy. If you’re tall, I encourage you to choose the lightest possible frame and suspension travel is short.

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