As an avid cyclist who commutes to work on a bicycle you probably understand why bicycles are so beneficial to society. The more bicycles then the less reliance we have on fossil fuels and the healthier our environment is. The more cyclists also make it safer for other cyclists as there are more bikes and fewer cars on the road. Another often over-looked benefit is that when there are more cyclists then there will be more bicycle shops. More bicycle shops equal better pricing and more choices. Here are some tips and ideas of how to increase the number of cyclist sin your area.
The United States vs. European Cycling CultureCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/faceme/6035496757/
In the United States many people think that in order to be an avid cyclist they must ride a high-end road bike, dress like a professional racer in the tour De France, and ride fast. This is far from correct however many Americans are under this impression. In Europe though there is obviously a huge cycling culture devoted to Lycra bodysuits and riding in packs like Lance Armstrong used to do; however they have numerous regular cyclists. These regular cyclists use the bicycle to ride everywhere, do their grocery shopping, and for leisure. In the United States we think we must have a cycling Jersey on or other cycling specific clothing yet in Europe people will wear whatever they have on. It is common to see women in Amsterdam riding to the store or work wearing pumps, dresses, and even short skirt.
If we can teach people that you do not have to dress like a Tour De France racer in order to ride your bicycle. The best way we can teach that to non-cyclists is to show them by wearing casual clothing as we ride to the grocery store to do our weekly shopping.
High Gas Prices
Nothing will may non-cyclists look at riding bicycles faster than higher gas prices. The faster and higher gas prices rise then the faster we can convert new segments of society into joining the bicycle commuting culture we have.
Get on a Bike
Many people have forgotten the joys associated with bicycle riding. It may have been a long time since they rode bikes as a child or teenager. If we can get these people on a bicycle many times they will begin to reminisce about their childhood and get the urge to go buy their own bicycle so they can cycle for fun.
Avoid the big Box Stores When Buying a Bicycle
It is vital that when new riders come to buy a bicycle that they buy the bicycle from a local bike shop instead of a big box store such as Wal-Mart and Sears. Your local bike shop will properly fit you and be able to sell you a quality bike that is fun to ride and is much less prone to breaking down. Wal-Mart bicycles are often assembled improperly and the components on these bikes are so cheap they are impossible at times to keep functioning properly. A quality bike from your local bike shop such as an entry level mountain bike like the Trek 3500 will have great components that are much better than anything you will find at Wal-Mart. If you bicycle is functioning properly and does not constantly break down then you will cycle more. When you have a crappy bike that constantly breaks down you will hate cycling.
Bicycle Friendly Companies
Bicycle racks and showers are important to many people who commute to work. If there is a shower you can use at work to freshen up before you begin your days work then more people would commute. If the company has bicycle racks then that is a positive thing. If a company allows you to bring your bicycle inside during the day then that is a huge benefit being offered by the company. The more friendly a company is to cyclists then the more potential people we can get to convert into riders.
Riding a bicycle will put you at the center of attention, or at least it seems that way to many non-cyclists. These new riders feel that everyone is watching them when they ride around town and it may make them feel self-conscious about their bicycle riding. On the other hand if everybody and their dog rides bicycles then self-conscious people are often much more likely to ride bicycles simply because everyone else is doing it also and it seems as if riding bicycles is a “normal” activity to do.
Slime and Thorn Resistant Tubes
Flat tires suck, and even with the best bike in the World you will get flat tires. One way to help eliminate many flats is to upgrade to thorn resistant tubes and have the green “Slime” added to the tubes by your local bike shop. The Thorn resistant tubes and Slime will make the tires a few grams heavier, but who cares? You are going to get fewer flats with thorn resistant bicycle inner tubes with Slime added to them.
Slime will instantly seal up any small punctures. F you are riding and hit a rock, nail, thorn, or other object that places a petite puncture in your tire that rotating movement of the tire will cause the Slime to instantly seal the hole up, thus saving you from a flat tire.
Accept All Cyclists
The number one thing you can do to help promote cycling is to not be a jerk about it. I am tired of the Mountain Bike riders talking trash to the road cyclists for dressing funny. I m tired of the road cyclists constantly mocking anybody who still rides a steel fork with down tube shifters. I am tired of all the mocking and denigrating behavior among cyclists. Yes we all have our references and styles but when it all comes down we are all on bicycles and should do everything in our power to get more people on bicycles. You may be a road cyclist but if you get someone interested in mountain biking then you have done the cycling community as a whole a huge favor. Viva La Bicycle!