Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Change: What Women Want in Bicycling and from the Bike Industry

When this months' Momentum Magazine arrived in the mail, I was excited to be able to read the latest issue. Maybe it was the dreary, rainy day, or perhaps just a feeling of nostalgia, but there was something about the vintage feel and colors of the cover that caused me to want to tear into it immediately.
I started turning the pages immediately and happened very quickly upon the printed mini-results of a reader survey that took place not too long ago. I actually participated in the survey, so I was curious to see what the outcome was regarding the poll.
I started reading about "what women want" and as I passed over each column, lo and behold, I found something that was from me. "Hey! I said that!" suddenly burst through my lips... I couldn't help it. It was a strange sensation to be reading something I actually suggested in a printed magazine.
Sadly, I knew it was my direct quote because after I had typed it in during the poll and hit "next," I remember thinking that it was worded absolutely horribly. Anyway, after recovering from the shock of seeing my suggestion in print, I realized that I wasn't alone in this request and that another person down the column had the same idea in mind.

While I love being able to read that I'm not alone in my wants when it comes to riding (in case anyone is wondering, the top request was better bike infrastructure, and who doesn't want that), I have to wonder how many of these polls, articles, blog posts, and so on it will take to see change within the bicycle industry? Change is slow moving, it seems - and not just in the bicycle industry.

Our community is currently in the midst of a 10-month study to determine whether or not a more comprehensive downtown bus/rail system would be useful. While I will admit there's much more potentially attached to the bus/light rail in our city (the council wants to create an entire area of shops and businesses to generate revenue for the city and business owners), it's frustrating to want something so badly now, and know that in reality it will likely be 5-20 years before it comes to fruition.

Similarly, I question the timeline for change in the bicycle industry. While there seems to be a general change in many people's attitudes about the possibilities of using public transportation and bicycles, is it enough to push the political agenda and government workers to move quicker than they normally would? Is it completely up to the powers that be to create this change, or is there something we, as cyclists and public transportation users can do to move things forward?

I know I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do look forward to the day when I can easily get from one town to the next by bike without fear of being run down by angry or distracted drivers, and move from city to city without use of a car. The day is coming, I do believe - the question of when, remains up for debate.

If you could only change one thing right now in your area regarding bicycling, what would it be? If you've seen a lot of change in regard to bicycles and infrastructure where you live, how did the change come about, and how long were those changes in progress?

5 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard of that magazine before now, going to check it out! How fun that you got quoted!

    Our community is pretty bike friendly in that a lot of people bike, and there are plenty of bike racks in our shopping districts. But the glaring omission is the lack of bike paths/lanes. You are stuck choosing between the sidewalks and streets. There recently were some bike lanes painted on to a few of the wider roads, but what I'd really like to see is a bike path on the shoreline. Right now there is a sidewalk that borders the road running parallel to the lakefront, but ideally there should be a nice wide path with separate areas for pedestrians and bicyclists. The land is there and it's not being used, but I don't think the city wants to encourage more foot traffic because this is considered an "exclusive" area. It would make for such a magnificent place for a path, but it will ever happen.

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  2. What a shame to not be able to make use of the lakefront area for walkers and cyclists. I hadn't even considered your point, but it is a good one. I wonder how much influence wealthy home owners have on whether or not multi-use paths are created? Perhaps they don't want to share the area, or think they'll lose unobstructed views? It would be nice to be able to work together with the city and homeowners to make the paths a possibility, I'm sure.

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  3. HAH! And my comment is two comments beneath yours. :-D

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  4. Err...three comments beneath yours.

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