September 28, 2012

Madison, where the powerful bike lobby pushes for policies that will get 20% of workers commuting by bike...

... bicycle commuting dropped to only 4.69% in 2011. The previous year it was 6.03%.

The bike lobby folks disparage the survey, which asked people how they got to work in the previous week. Maybe the question was asked after a week of nasty weather. Of course, here in Wisconsin, it's frequently too cold or rainy for anyone other than a hardcore bicyclist.
The number of people walking (8.38 percent) and using a motorcycle (0.15 percent) to get to work edged down slightly. The number who said they took public transportation to work (8.79 percent) inched up, and those who drove to work alone rose to 65.46 percent from 63.42 percent.
This is America, people. We drive. We have a lifestyle built on cars. Do you mind?
Arthur Ross, Madison's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator, could not be reached Thursday for comment, but data from the city paint a picture of steady growth for bike commuters. According to a 2011 report by the city's traffic engineering department, the annual average volume on the John Nolen Drive and Brittingham Park bike paths has steadily climbed since 1987, when an average of 400 bikes per day used the paths. In 2011, the number, according to the bike counts, had more than doubled to about 975 bikes per day.
Yes, but are these people biking to work? Or are we talking about people who bike for exercise/pleasure on weekends and off hours, mostly concentrated in the pleasantest times of the year? I know I bike those paths a lot, but not as a method of commuting.

Meanwhile the 20% goal lives on, with influential politicos hyping expensive improvements (or supposed improvements) as if people will shift to bicycle commuting. I find it amusing that my liberal city puts so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population.

66 comments:

Expat(ish) said...

I biked to work for almost a year in Boulder, CO - basically late winter to early winter, so I had the range of yuck.

I also didn't have kids or a complicated lifestyle, so it worked for me and saved a tremendous amount of money.

But now that I have kids, well, I got a call the other day that someone had a fever and had to leave work ASAP, take them to the pede, take them home, go to the pharm, go get them a milkshake (I'm that kind of dad), go home, go back to work, etc.

How does that work on a bike?

-XC

Paul said...

So how do you bike 20 miles to work? Or in rush hour Metro traffic? Or if you have heart problems, spine problems, leg problems, etc...

How does one bike to work if they are blind or near blind? Or don't have the use of both hands? And say, how do you bike to work in the rain, snow, sleet, summer heat?

I see lots of sport bikers, but almost zero commute ones. And the above is why. IT IS NOT FUN TO PEDDLE 10-20 MILES TO WORK, EVEN IF YOU PHYSICALY CAN.

The nit wits don't see that.

FleetUSA said...

Ah, but like most Democrat proposals, they mean well and appeal to the higher instincts.

Let the money be damned, someone else is paying for it. Poor schmuck taxpayers.

campy said...

so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population

How can white males commute to work if they're being pushed out of the workforce?

madAsHell said...

I live near a bicycle trail.

Some of the rudest, most self-centered people ride bicycles. They demand that you get out of their way. They are saving the planet, and you must bend to their will.

traditionalguy said...

Henry Ford gave us the inexpensive and reliable personal gas powered car 100 years ago.

Why are the Madison liberal myths always back to the future and never forward? It's Wisconsin folks.


cubanbob said...

Let them pay the equivalent in car taxes and tolls. No one rides for free.

Icepick said...

Bicycle commuting is totally a SWPL (aka whiter people) kind of pursuit. Everyone else has more sense than that.

Note that they need/want expensive improvements to accomplish their goal. Shouldn't cycling to work be pitched as a way to save money instead of a way to up the size and scope of government? No such luck....

Synova said...

There are a couple of guys at my husband's work that bike commute 20 miles. They are *also* sport bikers.

I always wondered, with bikes or with motorcycles, how people generally manage the logistics of being un-sweaty and dressed professionally for work without helmet hair.

vet66 said...

People watching is of particularl interest when it involves watching the testosterone class compete with traffic, parade around with their gonad protectors on full display, clicking in their special shoes, B movie, science fiction movie head protector and wearing Italian style garb emblazoned with a pithy homage to some sponsor. I hate to read stories about these physical specimens getting run over when their aggressive riding techniques catches up with them by the dreaded multi-treaded vehicle.

GOD speed on a ten speed...!

John Lynch said...

I drive for a living and I see who rides bikes. It's not people going to work. I see a few people who are obviously going somewhere, but the overwhelming majority is men who are angrily pedaling their egos around town.

It's not a form of transportation so much as a social statement and, secondarily, a form of exercise.

A very common sight is a Subaru or an SUV with an extendable bike rack hung on the back. Cars are for work, bikes are for recreation.

There are too many things that cannot be done without a car. About the only people I see that have a bike but no car are college students or people with too many DUIs.

Ann Althouse said...

"How can white males commute to work if they're being pushed out of the workforce?"

Maybe that's why the percentage went down.

Kit said...

I biked in, this morning. It was beautiful. My biking is actually more for commuting to work and errand running than for recreation. Pretty much, if it's not raining or above 30 degrees, I'm out there. I don't, through the winter months, as I don't have that kind of bike.

Madison's actually a pretty easy city to get around in on a bike - along with the bike paths, lots of neighborhoods that parallel the heavier corridors.

John Lynch said...

In any case, no, privileged white men do not deserve the amount of money and attention that they receive because they ride a bicycle. That's who rides them, that's who lobbies for them. Let's be honest.

That's the spin for lefties, right?

chuckR said...

You people are so stingy. You need to think of Madison's teeming poor. They need Obamacycles. And maybe Obamarugula.

Ann Althouse said...

"Madison's actually a pretty easy city to get around in on a bike - along with the bike paths, lots of neighborhoods that parallel the heavier corridors."

Yes, except when trying to commute, that is, going into or away from town with the high-volume traffic on crowded streets.

I do recreational biking on these paths and nice neighborhoods, but the part where you have to get in there an compete with the cars feels dangerous.

I often walk to and from work, because I'm lucky to live less than a mile and a half from work, but I'm sometimes threatened by the damned bikers who act like jerks and think the rules don't apply to them.

In the high volume areas, it's better either to drive or walk. The middle zone occupied by bicycles is chaotic. It's fine that it's permitted, but I see no reason to spend tax money to try to incentivize bike commuting by people who aren't into doing it.

Kit said...

I always wondered, with bikes or with motorcycles, how people generally manage the logistics of being un-sweaty and dressed professionally for work without helmet hair.

My commute's only 3.5 miles, so, getting sweaty on the way in isn't an issue. I dress accordingly for the ride and bring a change of clothes to work in. I also keep some deoderant and baby wipes around for a quick clean up, if needed. It's cooler early in the morning, so it usually isn't an issue - and on the ride home - who cares. And in the 15-20 minute ride, helmet hair doesn't really happen - plus, again, style accordingly..

Birkel said...

Madison didn't build that bike path. The people on their bikes didn't build that bicycle. The car driving commuters didn't build those roads. The businesses that employ them didn't build those businesses.

Can I get an amen? And if so, did you really build that amen?

Kit said...

Yes, except when trying to commute, that is, going into or away from town with the high-volume traffic on crowded streets.

True, I guess, but I try stay off of those streets, if I can, and usually only interact with them when I cross them at lights. Knowing where you work, I see your point. My commute is different.

MadisonMan said...

I find the pro-bike lobby in Madison pretty much insufferable. Nothing is too good for bikers, and bikers can't be expected to pay one thin dime for their own safety.

And I bike to work every day -- until the sun is setting at 4:30. Then I start again in early March. When it's cold out, I walk.

I will also agree with Kit: Madison is very easy to get around on a bike. But I'm one of *those* bikers who will take the lane and make a car wait if I have to -- which is pretty rare. That is, I'm very comfortable on just about any road in Madison. (Let that be my epitaph :) )

Shouting Thomas said...

I often walk to and from work, because I'm lucky to live less than a mile and a half from work, but I'm sometimes threatened by the damned bikers who act like jerks and think the rules don't apply to them.

You aren't afraid of being mobbed by paparazzi?

creeley23 said...

About the only sign of the Obama trillions I see in my life are the elaborate bike lanes all over town that are almost always empty but squeeze commuting car traffic into less space.

Patrick said...

This is America, people. We drive. We have a lifestyle built on cars. Do you mind?

Of course they mind. Walk to work!. If you live too far to walk, then ride! If you live to far to ride, then move! What are you doing out there in the exurbs anyway, holding rallies for Romney and Ryan?

This is about environmentalism and control. "It's good for you, comrade" is just window dressing.

Icepick said...

People watching is of particularl interest when it involves watching the testosterone class compete with traffic, parade around with their gonad protectors on full display, clicking in their special shoes, B movie, science fiction movie head protector and wearing Italian style garb emblazoned with a pithy homage to some sponsor.

The thing I don't get is all the guys that ride bikes and wax off all their body hair and wear all the spandex. Now I get why professional racers do that, to cut down drag. But they're actual, you know, racers, doing it not for fun but for profit.

But if you're just some guy doing it to stay in shape, why cut down drag? Wouldn't more drag help you get into shape faster?

WTF, cycling guy, WT-fuckin'-F?

Shanna said...

mostly concentrated in the pleasantest times of the year

Yeah, I see bikers like crazy in the summer, but come winter they are nowhere to be found, are they? Wimps.

Shanna said...

Some of the rudest, most self-centered people ride bicycles.

On the trail this weekend, some guy walking by said 'to the left ladies' and we all started laughing. Bikers bug everybody, it seems.

Peter said...

'Synova' asked, "I always wondered, with bikes or with motorcycles, how people generally manage the logistics of being un-sweaty and dressed professionally for work without helmet hair."

Mandatory showers at all workplaces? Plus locked, indoor storage for the bicycles?

Actually, I used to ride a bicycle to work as well (but not after there was snow on the ground). And there are often inexpensive improvements that can be made to streets and roadways to make bicycle use safer and more enjoyable. And there certainly are drivers who find it amusing to deliberately menace bicyclists with their vehicles, throw stuff at them out of windows, try to smack them with a hand out the window, etc.

But there's still a bigger problem with bicycle activists who become convinced that their use of a bicycle makes them morally superior to those who don't.

Hagar said...

I do not know about "males," but certainly "white" and quite well-to-do "whites" at that.

Hagar said...

and just a very small segment even of that demographic.

Bill R said...

This is simple. Just forbid any member of the following groups to own or use an automobile (except for ambulances and hearses)

- Politicians
- Government employees
- College Professors
Lawyers
- Welfare Recipients
- Convicted Criminals

That's at least 40% of the population and the remaining, productive portion of the population will find it easier to get to work. Problem solved.

Tibore said...

There's such a thing as a bike lobby? You're kidding me.

Tibore said...

What the hell??

"Arthur Ross, Madison's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator..."

Please tell me that's not a paid position. Please tell me that he's got a real, full time position and this is merely one of his many titles in an otherwise justifiable job position. Or that he's a volunteer. Or something that'll demonstrate that your city doesn't waste money on making a "pedestrian-bicycle coordinator" it's own salaried job. Please...

karrde said...

@Synova

I always wondered, with bikes or with motorcycles, how people generally manage the logistics of being un-sweaty and dressed professionally for work without helmet hair.

On motorcycles, sweating is usually not an issue.

furious_a said...

how people generally manage the logistics of being un-sweaty and dressed professionally for work without helmet hair.

On-site shower or locker facilities...or else sweaty and helmet-hair.

EMD said...

Amazing, human beings have an aversion to death.

furious_a said...

...[your city here] pedestrian-bicycle coordinator...

Where I come from it's known as calling "On your left!" as you pass a pedestrian or "SLOW DOWN!" at speeding cyclists on a mixed-use trail.

CWJ said...

Madison's pedestrjan-bicycle coordinator could not be reached for comment.

Now THAT'S funny. What would be his job OTHER than being available for comment? Clearly Madison needs to hire a spokesman for the Office of Pedestrian-Bicycle Coordination in order to get their message out.

Fen said...

Expat summed up how immpractical commuting on a bike is.

For me, it was the moment I passed an accident scene involving a biker and an SUV.

Thanks but no. I'll be driving to work in transport where my legs aren't considered the crumple zone.

Fen said...

Please tell me that he's got a real, full time position and this is merely one of his many titles in an otherwise justifiable job position.

Relax. He's also the Vice President of Diversity and Environmental Awareness.

Curious George said...

"I find it amusing that my liberal city puts so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population."

That's because Madison has a registration requirement, and of course that disfranchises blacks.

SteveR said...

Where I live, which I suspect is typical for most of America, people bike for exercise, and those are usually the hard core types. Bike lanes which always make the City Council proud to create, are underused, if at all. People who bike for exercise don't like stop signs or traffic laws.

They do have nice helmets and outfits and nice sparkly lights that you can see when you come up to them in the pitch dark at 5:30 AM in the right lane going 30 in a 45 mph zone. Very safe.

Sorun said...

"I find it amusing that my liberal city puts so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population."

It's the same rationale that keeps tax money flowing to PBS/NPR. Whatever that is.

Kit said...

...but come winter they are nowhere to be found, are they? Wimps.

Yes, and cheap. At least, this one.

Jane said...

I knew one person who commuted to work year-round with his bike: a 30 minute ride, rain-gear if necessary. It was a part of town where there weren't many bridges over the river, and the most direct route was with a pedestrian/bike-only bridge.

But here's the thing: all those poor folks who can't get to a grocery store because they live in a food desert? -- they're the ones who should be using their bikes (with a trailer for groceries) as transportation, not recreation. But they probably don't even own bikes. Why is that?

Michael said...

Icepick. The leg shaving has less to do with friction than with the inevitable crashes. If you rip your legs up on pavement then dressing the wounds sans hair is easier and more likely to be infection free.

Rocketeer said...

But they probably don't even own bikes. Why is that?

I dunno. There's absolutely no excuse not to "own" a bike in a college town like Madison. In fact, there are generally speaking three quick progressive stages of bike "ownership" in such places:

1. Buy a really nice, expensive, road/commuter bike. Have it get stolen.

2. Buy a cheapo Walmart or Target Schwinn, Murray, or Huffy to replace it. Have the new bike get stolen.

3. Steal a bike.

Ralph L said...

But if you're just some guy doing it to stay in shape, why cut down drag?
The object is to *look* like a racer. Also, it's easier to remove the bandages.

Sorun said...

Biking is "acting white." And the difficulty of biking is proportional to fatness.

edutcher said...

The Lefties want us all to be just like the Euros - and have all the people share the suffering equally.

Tibore said...

What the hell??

"Arthur Ross, Madison's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator..."

Please tell me that's not a paid position. Please tell me that he's got a real, full time position and this is merely one of his many titles in an otherwise justifiable job position. Or that he's a volunteer. Or something that'll demonstrate that your city doesn't waste money on making a "pedestrian-bicycle coordinator" it's own salaried job. Please...


Now you know better than that...

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

The future does not belong to those who slander bike riders.

Michael in ArchDen said...

Rocketeer's comment reminds me of the line from Emo Phillips...
"When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realised, the Lord doesn't work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me."

rhhardin said...

A guy at work wanted to get everybody biking to work. Only we six of thousands did.

We'd tie his bike up in a tree sometimes.

The more people bike, the worse it is for existing bicyclists.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

"I see no reason to spend tax money to try to incentivize ____ by people who aren't into doing it."

Be still, my beating libertarian heart!

Kirk Parker said...

Kit,

"My commute's only 3.5 miles, so, getting sweaty on the way in isn't an issue."

You aren't doing it right. ;-)

traditionalguy said...

The Wright brothers were bicycle makers who added an engine, wings and a better seat and made a flying bicycle.

But we must now go back before such modern polluters came along to spew CO2 pollutant that is killing the human race with climatic weather.

Get with the program you car driving jerks!

MikeinAppalachia said...

Kit-
Did you mean "and" rather than "or" for your riding restrictions?

MikeinAppalachia said...

Kit-
Did you mean "and" rather than "or" for your riding restrictions?

Sigivald said...

I live in Portland, OR.

And thus I want the "bike lobby" to go away and stop pushing for so many useless bike lanes.

Bike-crap has been an endless waste of time and money here, to no obvious benefit.

(Plus, to a lesser extent, what Paul said - people who are not Hardcore Bicycle Advocates mostly don't want to ride a bike a long distance every day to commute; this is doubly so if they have to dress up for work.

The Advocates seem to not realize that they're a thoroughly atypical, self-selected set, and imagine everyone Would Bike Commute If Only Some Policies Changed.

They are wrong.)

ken in sc said...

I tried to bike to work in the late 70s, in Northern Virginia, near the Pentagon. It was about five miles. On heavy traffic days, it was actually quicker. However, without a shower and a change of clothes at work, it was simply not practical.

ALP said...

"I find it amusing that my liberal city puts so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population."
***************
This. This. This!

I was in a built environment bachelor's program in Seattle (landscape architecture). One of our projects found me knee-deep in bicycle master plans from various cities. I digested 100s of pages off proposed pro-bike plans.

Over and over I came across data that showed that bike commuters are overwhelmingly white men. The key difference, IMHO, is in the level of physical risk one is willing to take. As a female who has broken a collarbone falling off a bike...on a DEDICATED bike path - in my mind riding a bike raises the odds I will be injured. Period. And breaking bones in adulthood is a fucking pain in the ass - I spent two weeks on painkiller before I returned to work. I have been in one car accident - I was driving a compact sedan that was T-boned by a Chevy Suburban. I walked away from that, and my car went to the great junkyard in the sky. Missed one day of work. Contrast that to hitting a small rock or small pothole *just right* while biking. And then breaking bones.

You could cover the face of the earth with dedicated bike trails, but the reality of gravity is such that you always run the risk of wiping out and falling onto asphalt. All the funding in the world won't change that. Drives me nuts that bike advocates think that its the prospect of physical exertion that keeps people from biking more. The physical exertion is the FUN part...the rest: risk of injury and taking a "whore's bath" in your employer's bathroom to start the day - THOSE are the things that turn me off of biking as a form of daily transportation.



Matt said...

Most people would rather drive even if they are close enough to walk / bike / commute. Just one reason Americans are so fat and out of shape. I DO think there should be incentives to bike but it should be initiated by the business you work for.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I always wondered, with bikes or with motorcycles, how people generally manage the logistics of being un-sweaty and dressed professionally for work without helmet hair.

THIS!! When you have to dress professionally for work, bike commuting means that you should have a set of clothing AT work to change into when you get there so you don't look like a bag lady, sweaty, hair a mess, make up smeared.

Unless you plan to wear the same outfit every day, this means you need to move a weekly wardrobe to the office, via car, so you can change out of your sweaty or wet bike togs and into the work clothing and then back into bike togs to go home....Every Freaking Day.

Also requires an extra blow dryer, second set of cosmetics, deodorant and practically a duplicate of your at home bathroom supplies to use. Blech!!! Too much work.

Now biking to college classes. That was something I did and enjoyed a lot. But then again, no one cared what you looked like and I wasn't dressing up for work. You can wear the same thing all day long.

Rabel said...

Tibore wrote:

"Arthur Ross, Madison's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator..."

Please tell me that's not a paid position. Please tell me that he's got a real, full time position and this is merely one of his many titles in an otherwise justifiable job position. Or that he's a volunteer. Or something that'll demonstrate that your city doesn't waste money on making a "pedestrian-bicycle coordinator" it's own salaried job. Please..."

Tibore, you innocent child

chuckR said...

@Rabel

There are six Professional Engineers on that list. Some cities don't have that many across all their departments. What the hell do they do for a living?

Rabel said...

"What the hell do they do for a living?"

They have an ambitious plan

And a big budget

And are well rewarded

CWJ said...

Oh my Rabel, Tibore, & CWJ

There IS a multiperson Department of Pedestrian Bicycle Coordination after all!!!

I had no idea - I was just joking.

In that case, maybe fairies and unicorns are real too (though they would undoubtedly also need the benefits of professional coordination).