Not so very many years ago, sidewalks and roads were filled with children on their bikes, riding their way to school. Those of us old enough to remember those days remember the pride we took in our bikes, making sure that they were clean and that our precious bells were in tip-top ringing condition. Gradually, those bikes, which were also used by commuters and people running errands, were replaced by buses and cars. The scene changed from one of kids careening about on their bikes to those same children simply standing by the street corner, waiting for a bus. Commuters, too, changed their mode of transportation. Today, however, we are wondering if we are seeing another shift, one that leads us back to the two-wheeled wonders powered by whatever we ate for breakfast.
When little Jane pedaled fiercely down the road to make it to school on time just fifty years ago, she never dreamed that one day, one day in her lifetime, the United States government would be spending millions of dollars to try to encourage children to do exactly what she was doing—riding her bike to school. Even so, it is true. As part of the Federal Highway Department Safe Routes to School program, the federal government is spending millions of dollars both to provide safe routes for kids to bike or walk to school and to encourage kids to get out and use those routes. The return to two-wheels isn’t limited to kids in school. Biking seems to be a growing trend across many walks of life.
Roadside bike rack at University of Minneapolis
Whether they are doing it for the commuting crowd, students, tourists, or people headed to the mall, many cities across the U.S. and around the world are making it more convenient than ever to leave the four-wheeled vehicles at home and start pedaling the two-wheeled ones. While biking lanes are rather common, a number of cities have gone the extra mile when it comes to accommodating bikes.
- Fort Mason, CA. A stretch of road in this community certainly encourages bikers. The parking areas have been replaced with a bike lane, complete with cement barricades, ensuring no one mistakenly parks his vehicle in the new bike lane.
- Japan. Not surprisingly, Japan is a mecca for cyclists, something that never really went away with the car trend. Many cities rent bikes to tourists, and some even have multi-level parking garages dedicated solely to bicycles.
- Munich. This city offers a fascinating public transportation system, one that contains varying levels of propelling options, with cheaper rates for those that are more environmentally friendly. Renting a bike, for example, would likely cost considerably less than riding the bus with the city’s Mo-Bility system.
- Minneapolis. Some sources point to Minneapolis as the top city for biking in the U.S. This city has gone the extra mile in increasing on-street cycling lanes and bicycle routes for tourists as well as locals.
With such an emphasis on biking, perhaps our grandchildren will laugh when they hear of all the traffic jams, school bus rides, and commuter buses of today. They’ll be busy pedaling away, protecting our earth while exercising their muscles.
Chris Turberville-Tully enjoys spending time with his wife and sons outdoors, whether biking, taking a run on the beach or an evening drive (yes, he drives a car!) through the countryside. When not enjoying the great outdoors and fresh air, Chris spends his time writing for HR Owen or traveling abroad for business. To date Chris has visited over 80 countries and has no plans to stop just yet. Follow Chris’ travels on G+.