Writing for Bicycling Retailer, Rick Vosper discusses what he says is a nationwide decline in bicycle sales, and places the blame in an unexpected place.
Press coverage of bicycling fatalities, which he says has driven down the rate of bicycling in this country by scaring people off their bikes.
Even though his own stats show bike sales increased 13% from 2000 to 2012.
His response is that, taking inflation into account, retail sales at bike shops actually dropped 9% over that same period when measured in constant dollars.
However, that fails to consider a little thing called the Internet, which became the go-to place for many shoppers over the same period. Just ask local book stores what effect online sales had on their business.
If you can find one.
It also fails to account for the Internet’s role in facilitating used bike sales, which have boomed over the same period.
And sales have been affected by the drop in prices for many items, as improved manufacturing techniques and overseas manufacturing have driven down the price of everything from carbon frames to high-powered bike lights, even as high-end bike prices have skyrocketed.
He goes on to argue that the perceived drop in sales is driven by a 37% decline in the number of bike riders in the US from 2000 to 2014, as 7.5 million Americans have stopped riding their bikes.
In fact, according to Vosper, just 11% of people in this country rode bikes in 2014, down from 15% in 2000, and 21% in 1995.
Except no one else seems to believe that.
In fact, by every appearance, ridership is booming in this country. And not just anecdotally.
The Statistica website traces a rise in bicycling from 47.16 million people who had ridden a bike in the previous 12 months in 2008, to 67.33 million in 2014, before dropping slightly to 66.72 this past spring.
Meanwhile, the 2012 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors reported that 18% of Americans over the age of 16 rode a bike at least once that summer.
People for Bikes cites even higher numbers from a benchmarking survey taken last fall.
Hardly a decline by any measure. So whatever forces may be limiting bike shop sales, it’s not due to a drop in ridership.
However, even if the numbers don’t support his conclusions, he still raises a point worth discussing.
When I started writing about bicycling fatalities in 2010, it was because no one else was doing it.
Too many times, the loss of a rider’s life wouldn’t merit more than a few lines in the local press, if that. And too many times, the victim was blamed when the circumstances pointed to a different conclusion.
So I set out to shine a light on these tragedies in order to memorialize the victim, shame the press into doing a better job, and hopefully force our governmental leaders to do something to stop the carnage on our roads.
It can be argued that those last two goals have been met, at least in part.
The press is finally paying attention. Maybe too much attention, by Vosper’s account. Most, though not all, fatal bicycling collisions are now reported in the press, though there’s still not enough focus on the person who was killed in the crash.
And with the commitment to Vision Zero currently spreading across the country — including right here in Los Angeles — our leaders are finally committing to ending the deaths, not just of people on bikes, but everyone who travels our roads.
So maybe we don’t have to shine that light anymore. Or at least, not as brightly.
I know these stories are hard to read. Trust me, they’re even harder to write.
It’s worth thinking about, and a discussion worth having as we move forward.
And hopefully, users won’t ride them down a flight of stairs.
Better Bike’s Mark Elliot explains that after four years of failed promises, Beverly Hills has finally admitted that updating the Biking Black Hole’s nearly 40-year old bike plan just isn’t a priority.
Then again, it never has been, since none of it was never implemented.
It will be interesting to see what happens when scores of foreign tourists take to the city’s bike-unfriendly and largely infrastructure-less streets when the Santa Monica bikeshare system expands to the city.
It may be a good thing it’s just a straight shot down the road from Cedars Sinai.
You may need to rethink your riding plans for the weekend. Both Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road in the Angeles National Forest will be closed all weekend due to high winds.
Nice gesture from the East Side Riders new ESR Bike and Skate Shop, as they replaced the bike stolen from an 11-year old boy by a man who pushed him off the bike he’d just won in a raffle.
Good to see the LACBC’s blog make a comeback, with a detailed explanation of LA’s new Mobility Plan 2035 and what you can do to support it. Meanwhile, UCLA’s Daily Bruin takes an in-depth look at the current state of the plan. Although I’d expect better from former LA County Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky, who says the plan was “cooked up in an ivory tower” and rushed through the political process; evidently, an over five-year public process wasn’t good enough for him.
KPCC looks at the new Go Human campaign that puts a human face on traffic safety.
Bicycle Retailer continues their tour of LA-area bike shops.
Santa Monica parents are pushing for crossing guards at dangerous intersections to protect children walking and biking to school.
A San Diego captain offers advice on how to prevent bike theft for the marina crowd.
A new Palo Alto bike and walking trail would form the spine of a Bay to Ridge Trail running through the Stanford campus.
Here’s your chance to get involved if you live in San Francisco, San Mateo or Santa Clara counties, as Caltrain is looking for bicyclist representatives for their advisory committee.
San Francisco messenger bag maker Timbuk2 offers a new line of bike bags for women.
Natomas cyclists now have a shiny new bike fix-it station.
Advice on how to safely share the road and pathways from the active transportation coordinator in Davis.
Amtrak expands bike service to the New York to New Orleans Crescent Line this week, even if it does bypass bike-friendly Anniston AL.
A Seattle-area paper argues that shifting to bikes would be a big benefit to the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change; a new study shows a shift to transportation cycling could save cities $25 trillion — that’s trillion, with a T — while reducing CO2 emissions 10% by 2050.
Kentucky senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul may enjoy riding his bike, but thinks federal funding for bike lanes belongs in the same category as turtle tunnels and squirrel sanctuaries. But at least he’s skilled at alliteration.
Maybe we’re making progress, as New Yorkers don’t complain about a proposal to remove a traffic lane and parking spaces to make room for a protected bike lane.
The Washington Post looks at why bike lanes have become heated symbols of gentrification, in the wake of a dispute over a planned bike lane in front of an African American church; leaders of the church have claimed it would violate their freedom of religion by removing parking. Thanks to Allyson Vought for the heads-up.
A British man who stabbed a bike rider to death in a random attack has been sentenced to an indefinite term in a psychiatric hospital for treatment of schizophrenia.
London’s Telegraph offers 11 rules for commuting by bike. It may be a sponsored post, but the first 10 tips aren’t bad.
An English driver has pled guilty to killing a cyclist during a road rage dispute.
A Philippine professor says the way to reduce congestion in the country is to get people out of their cars and onto bikes and feet.
A Singapore taxi driver gets nine months, and a 10-year ban from driving, for the DUI death of a bike rider after falling asleep, crashing into a parked car, then backing into the cyclist.
Presenting the perfect bike lock for people who are all thumbs. The real winner of a British cycling sportive will be whoever figures out how to hold two versions of the same race at the same time in the same place.