It's hard to find the perfect city for cycling hobbyists and commuters. Regardless of the multiple benefits for the environment and the actual cyclists, daily arranged solutions for cyclists continues to be a challenge. As discussed in more detail by Fast Company in their latest post about the book: Bikenomics: How Cycling Can Save The Economy , cycling can save money, boost revenues and help the economy broadly and locally.
The author, Elly Blue explains in five arguments the tangible benefits of creating a Cycling Friendly City: Health Costs, Bike Infrastructure, Parking, Local Economies and Cost Savings for People with Low Income that can't afford motor vehicles.
From my point of view, the Health Cost Savings alone is a compelling reason why more Bicycle Highways should be created across the U.S.; the costs of medicines, medical products and overall healthcare has skyrocketed thanks to the continuous increase in insurance premiums that have somehow improved the longevity (by lowering the mortality rate) of citizens across the country. Cycling is a great exercise that can be done indoor, outdoor, in the city, in the mountains, at the gym, at home, everywhere! The cardiovascular and muscle health due to cycling is outstanding and the long therm benefits includes increased flexibility, aerobic fitness and a healthier heart.
But (yes, there is always a but) unfortunately most cities were not designed with cyclists in mind. Is it simple enough to add cycling lanes, protecting barriers, signals, pathways in busy cities such as Chicago or Los Angeles? The answer is ABSOLUTELY. It has been proven by the citizens of Copenhagen, Amsterdam and even Portland, OR that this can be done if people's interests are placed before anything else. After all, cyclists will gladly pay for any and all improvements done to the city to increase safety, awareness and education. Other countries such as Mexico are following this trend after gaining a reputation of having the most obese population in this side of the planet. While countries such as Canada, has an internal battle to create the longest cycling highway, others like Norway and Sweden have plans to increase their network of cycling paths to promote wellness.
Finding the Best City to Commute starts with finding the best cycling community. It doesn't have anything to do with bicycle stores or having the latest bicycle or even having the infrastructure set for them. It has to do with embracing the culture that comes with people riding bicycles. I know it's hard to explain but I'll try; you see, cyclists and especially commuters believe that there is no other way to move around town, to go to work, to buy and deliver goods, to exercise, to go to eat and to have fun. Cyclists need clothing available for riding, accessories designed for each condition and places that welcome the enthusiast member of such a niche community. Groups joining to ride with no purpose or goal, car drivers that respect the freedom that comes with two wheels and coffee shops that have bike racks upfront to welcome them. Cyclists wear t-shirts with bike components on them, wear crazy and colorful socks, use cool gloves, have huge backpacks and know how to find the best places to take beautiful pictures.
Our pursuit to find the best city for commuters will continue and I'm sure more and more requirements will evolve in this quest but I can't deny the excitement that comes with it. The challenge continues to increase our cycling community and transform the way we do things to make this a better place to live and ride. Don't you agree?
Picture shown above taken from bikeportland.org