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National Media Noticing the Urban Bicycling Trend

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Apparently unaware of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's assertion that "human-powered vehicles are never going to be the answer," USA Today reports that several large U.S. cities are accelerating their efforts to encourage commuting on two wheels. The article cites New York for the new separated bike lane, and for putting bike racks where cars once parked.

"There's never been so much attention from cities collectively for cycling as a mode of transportation," says Loren Mooney, executive editor of Bicycling magazine. "Cities are recognizing that it is a realistic and inexpensive solution to a lot of different problems - to the traffic issues, to pollution issues, to personal health issues because instead of sitting in cars for an hour you have people out burning calories."

The Associated Press also noticed that cycling is on the rise in New York. But despite the 130,000 daily bicyclists on the road in New York City (more total cyclists than any other U.S. city can claim), less that 1 percent of the total population ride a bicycle to work:

"We can certainly do better," said Sadik-Khan, who visited Copenhagen a few months ago to study the Danish city's bike-promoting policies.

If there are obstacles, there are also advantages to New York for cyclists. It's flat, it's relatively temperate and you can bring your bike on the subway. Thousands of bike messengers and Chinese food deliverymen weave through gridlock Manhattan traffic daily.

"It's the fastest mode of transportation," said Sarinya Srisakul, vice president of the New York Bike Messenger Association, noting that it can take half an hour to traverse 10 midtown blocks by car but just five minutes on a bike.

Sadik-Khan, who often bikes to work, said cycling not only reduces air pollution but also is "a great competitive sport" that is gaining ground with "the hedge fund crowd."

"The line I've been using," she said, "is, 'Bike is the new golf.'"

Photo: *geng*/Flickr

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