Pronto Cycle Share is less than two months away and I could not be more excited for its September launch! I’ve had the luxury of riding the bike on a few occasions and I must say cruising up to Capitol Hill from Downtown is not at all the difficult journey I expected. Whereas most bike share systems’ designs are heavier than average bikes and use only 3 gears, Pronto is lighter than other bike share bikes and has an internal 7-speed hub! Talk about prepared for Seattle! Rather than walk you through the whole bike again, check out this blog post from the Seattle Bike Blog about how Pronto rides. I couldn’t agree more!
Here in Seattle Bicycles are booming. Ridership has dramatically increased in the last several years. Just around the corner is Pronto Cycle Share brought to us by the same company that operates CaBi, CitiBike, Divvy, and many other systems throughout the US and abroad. It is a great time to be involved in the biking scene. But there is one serious problem I notice: biking is a class privilege. I usually put it this way: Seattle is on its way to be a biking city, but only if you are a “hardcore” cyclist with a bike worth as much as a used car. Or a hipster. Or both…(laughs)
It is not all hopeless. Bike Works is an amazing organization working to build community through bicycles and education. Operating in Seattle’s south end, Bike Works specifically targets low-income youth through its many programs including Earn-A-Bike where youth learn to repair bikes and receive a bike of their own after completing a number of volunteer hours. Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Program introduces low-income youth from diverse backgrounds to the fun of cycling. Pronto Cycle Share will have an affordable annual membership that is on par with just one month of bus fare. Things are happening. But what about the culture? Will low-income and diverse communities take up cycling through these many initiatives? Is this something they even want?
Many of us who advocate cycling for its power to enhance social justice seem to think so, but a survey of low-income and predominantly non-white communities around Washington D.C. shows different. I am willing to bet Seattle is not so different, and we could learn a lot by changing our approach to thinking about cycling as an equitable means of transportation.Read CityLab’s full article for a good look at this topic. Here are some of the article’s main points about cycling and low-income, diverse neighborhoods:
- Poor respondents spend more time commuting.
- Most people, poor and non-poor alike, still want cars.
- Cycling just isn’t popular among the urban poor (yet).
Thank you to adventure Cycling for pointing me towards two news articles concerning bike travel. The first provides some good news about Amtrak experimenting with bike-friendly baggage cars. The second causes some concern about the future of flying with a bicycle.
Growing up, “Going Dutch” meant splitting the bill instead of paying for a girl’s dinner on a date. I always thought there was something to that idea, but that is another story. Today, going dutch has a very different meaning to me: cycling. When it comes to cycling, no one does it better than the Dutch. From infrastructure to culture, cycling is deeply integrated into Dutch life. High ridership, diversity in demographics and trip purpose, and few accidents are just some of the many success stories from the Netherlands. In honor of these successes I am assembling a series of videos that capture the essence of Dutch cycling and show Americans what I believe we can achieve with some hard work and dedication. I did not make any of these videos. Please view them on Youtube for more information and links to additional videos. Enjoy!
Dutch Cycling Series #1: “Cycling in the Netherlands – Introduction video”