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Road Rash - Fear: The Great Obstacle

February 29, 2012


This is part of a series of posts featuring parts of my paper, Road Rash.

Fear: The Great Obstacle

North American attitudes towards cycling seem to be founded on a perception of fear associated with the activity. Common criticisms of cycling routes include:
 Conflict with pedestrians on shared-use paths, particularly those that take space away from existing footways;  Lack of continuity of routes, resulting, for example, from ‘give way’ and 
‘cyclist dismount’ signs;  Street furniture that creates obstacles;  Poor surfaces on off-road routes; and  Off-road paths that take inconvenient routes (Ibid 78).

The general design of many North American cities does not incorporate cycling as a method of transportation for the masses. Because of this lack of planning, people who choose to cycle then integrate themselves into motor vehicle traffic since dedicated spaces to cyclists are not common. Despite the geographical or infrastructural dissuasions from cycling, one of the paramount barriers to North American cycling is fear.

The car is experienced as an extension of the home for people (mainly women) who are fearful of public space. In contrast, the bicycle affords no shield from the (masculine) gaze. There is surely an existential vulnerability attached to performing physical activity in public space… Then there is fear of using one’s body, of sensing one’s body, of getting sweaty of experiencing ‘hard work’, of hills. Other fears are more connected to issues of identity and include the fear or ridicule, of losing status, of riding a gendered, classed, raced and stigmatised vehicle, of undermining one’s existing sense of identity; fear […] of becoming ‘strange’ (Horton 134-145).

The issue of fear presents a feedback loop. The fewer bikes that are seen on the road the more dangerous and risky cycling as transportation seems. On the other hand, the more dangerous cycling seems, the less likely new cyclists are to try using bicycles as a viable mode of alternative transportation. Horton claims that fear of cycling is a symptom of living in an established fearful culture. “We have never been so safe, yet never have we been so fearful” (Ibid 137). Within these constructions of fear with regard to cycling Horton points to three areas where this fear might manifest. One is the area of road safety education, the second is helmet promotion campaigns, and thirdly we have new cycling spaces.

With road safety education we examine how roads have overwhelmingly become car-centric. I doubt many people now think of a road with children playing on it or with bicycles breezing past. It would appear that gone are the days when kids would just push their hockey nets onto the road for street hockey, and move them on occasion when a car needed to pass. Roads have been annexed by a bevy of cars. They dominate streets, and the people who endeavour to wander into the realm of cars are cautioned against doing so. “Motoring organisations such as the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club argued that children should be taught to keep out of the car’s way, and road safety education was born, as an alternative to preserving streets for people” (Ibid 138). So instead of impressing upon drivers how much responsibility they have operating a vehicle that weighs several tons, the onus is on children and pedestrians to stay out of a car’s path. This well-established notion that cars are dangerous has translated to the notion that roads are dangerous. All other attempts to reclaim roads for the movement of people via bicycle, therefore, require mindfulness that the roads and cars are dangerous. Ironically, instead of the lesson being that cars are dangerous and operators of motor vehicles should always exercise extreme caution while driving, the emphasis is placed on the individual who willingly chooses to interact with the vehicles, making the notion of riding a bike a risky endeavour as opposed to educating road users about traffic safety in general. Riding a bicycle is not inherently dangerous. However, riding a bicycle amidst cars is perceived as undoubtedly dangerous. And somehow the breadth of responsibility for such risk and danger falls upon the cyclist.

Road safety educators inculcate ‘safety-consciousness’ in various ways: they provide children with a variety of reflective gadgets; children are encouraged to wear high visibility clothing and cycle helmets; and exercises in road safety literature teach children to walk or cycle by convoluted routes because they are ‘safer’. The road safety industry thus strike to reduce casualties by inculcating fear in children, and giving them not incentives but disincentives to walk and cycle”. (Ibid 139)

The fear of road use by non-motorists is heightened by lack of non-motorists. This refers back to the aforementioned feedback loop, where the cyclist or pedestrian is expected to take safety measures before occupying road space, but the necessary preparations for biking in traffic render the experience intimidating in its complexity. The perceived risk of cycling in traffic has been so naturally crafted that it has become a real fear for those who may not even have attempted it. Consequently, drivers may not feel the imperative to drive more carefully or understand the concept of sharing the road since there are not many occasions where this is necessary. Roads have been prematurely declared for cars. This ultimately acts as a deterrent for bicycle transportation, because of the fear of motor vehicle traffic and the lack of examples of ordinary people on ordinary bicycles amidst cars. A fear of the road exists largely because general North American transportation seems to have been branded and designed for the car

This extension of risk management on the part of the cyclist continues with Horton’s second category of fear construction with cycling: the Helmet Promotion Campaigns. “Like road safety education, campaigns to promote the wearing of cycle helmets effectively construct cycling as a dangerous practice about which to be fearful” (Ibid 140). There are varying degrees of severity where helmet promotion is concerned. Some camps encourage people to decide for themselves and to wear or not wear a helmet as their own personal choice. Others feel that helmet usage needs to be compulsory for all ages, at all times. Rarely asked in this controversy is whether wearing a helmet actually reduces or increases the risk of sustaining a head injury (Ibid). Several factors contribute to a helmet’s effectiveness, including the angle and speed of collision, in addition to how well the helmet fits and is affixed to the head, and also what material the helmet is made of.

Cycle helmet programmes and legislation have never been justified by evidence that cycling is particularly hazardous or a major cause of head injury. All such programmes rest for their credibility upon a deep-seated stereotype that cycling is "dangerous". In fact, risk assessments show that cyclists face everyday risks comparable to pedestrians and drivers. In Canada, the rate of child head injury admission due to cycling accidents is exceedingly low. (Wesson)

A subsequent concern is whether the militant lobbying for helmet use casts an overall shadow over bicycle safety. “There is evidence that cycling levels decline when helmets are promoted and collapse when they become compulsory” (Ibid). On the contrary, the Netherlands and Denmark experience very high levels of ridership where the cycling demographic does not favour helmet usage (Ibid, 141). If one of the main fears of cycling is contending with traffic and potential collisions, then wearing a helmet sends a few messages. It confirms that traffic is indeed dangerous and that wearing a helmet may safeguard against head injury. It also shows responsibility on the part of the cyclist and reinforces the expectation that cyclists should prepare themselves for travel in motor vehicle traffic. At the best of times it relays to observers that the cyclist is having an enjoyable and safe journey via bicycle, while being mindful that the cyclist is participating in a potentially dangerous activity. Taking these scenarios into consideration, it is not all that surprising that the mandatory use of helmets sends a message of warning to would-be cyclists. Such an example of a jurisdiction with highly reinforced bike helmet laws would be Melbourne, Australia.

The fine for cycling without a helmet in Melbourne is a whopping $160. Not exactly encouraging people to cycle, now is it. Fining them for contributing to lower pollution levels, better public health, etc etc. is hardly the way to build the foundations of a bicycle culture. In contrast, Sydney is experiencing a greater boom in cycling, despite having less infrastructure, largely because they don't bother punishing cyclists for riding bicycles without helmets. (Colville-Anderson, Bike Helmet Protest in Melbourne)

An important thing to keep in mind is that “cyclists are at lower risk of head injury than motorists, pedestrians and children at play, yet none of those groups is encouraged to wear helmets” (Horton 141). So although wearing a helmet while cycling can send some discouraging messages about bicycling and safety, the context of this perceived danger in cycling is also very important. A helmet may safeguard against the eventuality of a head injury sustained while cycling, however, the instances of such occurrences are even less than the likelihood of a similar injury for motorists and pedestrians. Therefore, it is rather illogical for the emphasis of danger and fear to be associated specifically with cycling when travel by car and by foot has recorded higher instances of head injury. The greatest irony is the lack of measures taken to ensure that motorists and pedestrians protect themselves from head injury the same way cyclists are generally expected to. In North American cycling literature, the context of these discussions is most often marred by the established fear that cycling is dangerous with little mention of the more terrifying statistics related to head injury and fatality via travel in motor vehicles. Most subsequent debate of the issue cannot avoid reinforcing this fear as the discussion itself continues to steer the topic back into the same frame of personal safety when cycling. In some ways the discussion about what makes cycling safe becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the proposed danger of cycling being reiterated ironically, through the debate about its safety.

Horton argues this reinforcement of safety is also fed by the discussion around bicycle lanes. If the prevailing agreement is that roadways are for cars and bicycles should operate elsewhere, it becomes more difficult to legitimize the practice of cycling as transportation as opposed to a fun, recreational activity. Although, separated bike lanes may be a realistic solution in many North American cities based on the general perception of the roads being dangerous. “The road safety industry, helmet promotion campaigns and anyone responsible for marketing off-road cycling facilities all have a vested interest in constructing cycling – particularly cycling on the road – as a dangerous practice. Cycling, in other words, becomes ‘dangerous’ because of these attempts to render it ‘safe’” (Ibid 144). The North American cycling dilemma is characterized by the negative relationship between perceived safety and ridership numbers. Some feel as though riding is risky and unsuitable for their lifestyle because the types of cyclists they have witnessed fall under the bike messenger cliché or perhaps the recreational sportsman category. A potential rider may be discouraged to try bicycle commuting due to a lack of affinity with either of these stereotypes.

So cycling advocates face a dilemma. Safety is probably the biggest barrier that discourages people who would otherwise be more willing to cycle. And clearly cycling is more dangerous in this country than in European countries that have done more to encourage cycling and gain safety in numbers. One study, for example, calculates that the fatality rate of America cyclists is at least three times greater than in the Netherlands, even though virtually no Dutch cyclist wears a helmet (Maples 24)

My analysis of North American bike culture has revealed that safety is among the most frequent topics. Most writing tends to be research exploring the risks and how to manage those risks, or a discussion of how this culture of fear has now come to dominate the discourse. In contrast, much of the literature refers to European bike culture (that of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark) as a model for what has driven the cultural shift in transportation in those countries. Inquiries are made as to what motivates the increase in ridership and how those initiatives could be implemented in North American municipalities to yield similar results. In essence, it is quite common for North American cycling literature to focus on European models of cycling as a point of discussion. These texts tend to give the impression that average North American cities are doomed to oscillate in the vicious cycle of wanting more infrastructure to promote ridership, but lacking the critical mass to shift the paradigm due to fear of cycling.

__________________________________________________
Works Cited

Basset, David Rowland., John Pucher, Ralph Buehler, Dixie L. Thompson, and Scott E. Crouter. "Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America, and Australia." Journal of Physical Activity and Health 5 (2008): 795-814. Print.

Brackett, Dorothy. "Bicycling and Self Esteem." Weblog post. Let's Go Ride A Bike. 18 May 2010. Web. 18 May 2010. .

Burgueño, Meli. Bikes and The City. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Byrne, David. Bicycle Diaries. New York: Viking, 2009. Print.

Chan, Sarah. Web log post. Girls and Bicycles. Web. 15 May 2010.
.

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Bike Helmet Protest in Melbourne." Web log post. Copenhagenize. 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Aug. 2010. .

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Cycle Chic Origins." Cycle Chic™ - The Original from Copenhagen. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .

"Cycling in the Netherlands." Ministerie Van Verkeer En Waterstaat. Web. 24 May 2010.
.

Davies, Julian. "Family Biking Ages & Stages." Web log post. Totcycle. 26 June 2009. Web. 21 May 2010. .

Dennis, J., B. Potter, T. Ramsay, and R. Zarychanski. "The Effects of Provincial Bicycle Helmet Legislation on Helmet Use and Bicycle Ridership in Canada." Injury Prevention. 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2011. .

Feucht, Dave. "Portland Bicycle Plan 2010." Web log post. Portlandize. 4 Feb. 2010.
Web. 27 May 2010. .

Fincham, Ben. "Bicycle Messengers: Image, Identity and Community." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Gill, M., and M. Goldacre. "Seasonal Variation in Hospital Admission for Road Traffic Injuries in England: Analysis of Hospital Statistics." Injury Preventon. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2011. .

Gotschi, Thomas, and Kevin Mills. "Active Transportation for America." Rails to Trails
Conservatory. Web. 24 May 2010. .

North Carolina School of Public Health. "Active Living by Design and Public Health." 8-80 Cities. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Halbur, Tim. "Women, Transit, and the Perception of Safety | Planetizen." Planetizen |
Urban Planning, Design and Development Network. 11 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 May
2010. .

Horton, Dave. "Fear of Cycling." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

"I Love Riding in the City." Urban Velo May 2010: 14-34. Print.

Kay, Jane Holtz. Asphalt Nation. New York: Crown, 1997. Print.

Looft, Sandra. Simply Bike. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Mackintosh, Philip G., and Glen Norcliffe. "Men, Women and the Bicycle: Gender and
Social Geography of Cycling in the Late Nineteenth Century." Cycling and
Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England:
Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Maples, Jeff. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State UP, 2009. Print.

Martinelli, Deandria. Los Angeles Cycle Chic. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Masoner, Richard. "Q&A with Eben Oliver Weiss Aka Bike Snob
NYC." Momentum May 2010: 26-27. Print.

O'Brien, Catherine. "A Footprint of Delight, Exploring Sustainable Happiness." NCBW
Forum Article (2006). Web. 25 May 2010.
.

Parkin, John, Tim Ryley, and Tim Jones. "Barriers to Cycling: An Exploration of Quantitative Analyses." Ed. Paul Rosen and Peter Cox. Cycling and Society. Ed. Dave Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Pucher, John, and Ralph Buehler. "Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany." Transport Reviews 28.4 (2008): 495-528. Web.

Scott, Todd. "Detroit." Momentum May 2010. Print.
Skinner, David, and Paul Rosen. "Hell Is Other Cyclists: Rethinking Transport and Identity." Cycling and Society. By Peter Cox and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Spinner, Justin. "Cycling the City: Non-Place and the Sensory Construction of Meaning
in a Mobile Practice." Ed. Dave Horton. Cycling and Society. Ed. Peter Cox and
David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Print.

Wesson, D., D. Stephens, K. Lam, D. Parsons, L. Spence, and P. Parkin. "Trends in Pediatric and Adult Bicycling Deaths Before and After Passage of a Bicycle Helmet Law -- Wesson Et Al. 122 (3): 605 -- Pediatrics." Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation. 2008. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Williams, Martha. Bike Fancy. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Wilson, David Gordon, Jim Papadopoulos, and Frank Rowland. Whitt. Bicycling
Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2004. Print.

Wilson, Mighk. "Bicycling Is Better » Which Cycling Politics: Doom or Possibility?"
Bicycling Is Better. 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 May 2010. .

Wood, Daniel B. "On the Rise in American Cities: the Car-free Zone / The Christian
Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com." The Christian Science Monitor –
CSMonitor.com. 2 May 2007. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Cycling While Pregnant: Q&A with Juliet

February 27, 2012


Juliet with her bike, at 39 weeks pregnant!

Name: Juliet

Age: 34

Location: London, UK

Cycling for how many years: Regularly as an adult for about 15 years
(learnt to ride as a child).

Favorite part about cycling: The freedom and flexibility of moving
yourself around under your own power. And the fact that it's just *fun*!

Bike(s) you ride: Around town I mostly ride my self-built fixie; it’s an
old (70s/80s) road-bike-style skinny steel frame with mudguards and
rack. I also have a Hewitt Cheviot light tourer with gears which I use
for longer rides, Audaxing (though I haven’t ridden an Audax for a
couple of years), and touring. We now have a Christiania trike, too,
bought very recently for carrying the small-person around in once he
arrives!

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant:
Slower, still great!

How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily
commute:

I work from home so no longer have a daily commute, but use my bike for
transport wherever I do happen to be going. During my first trimester I
felt really ill for several weeks so although if I did need to go
anywhere I’d cycle just as usual, I wasn’t leaving the house that much
so I rode less. Happily that wore off at 12 weeks, after which it was
fine again. Over the last couple of weeks (I’m 39 weeks pregnant now)
I’ve started getting the tube for distances longer than 3-4 miles as I’m
getting much more tired more easily. In general, though, I’ve cycled in
pretty much exactly the same way. Just more slowly, especially
uphill...

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant?
Don’t think anything did. I was expecting that I might get the odd
comment on the street (as other pregnant cycling friends have), but as
it’s been winter (so lots of layers) & my bump has never actually gotten
that huge, I don’t think it’s been at all obvious & no one has said
anything.

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant?
Complete lack of surprise -- I don’t think anyone would have expected me
to do anything other than keep cycling!



What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling
throughout your pregnancy?
I raised the handlebars on both bikes a few months in, which made it
much comfier. Since about 6-7 months I’ve been riding the fixie
exclusively as the bars on that went significantly higher, and the
geared bike just isn’t comfortable (I knee myself in the bump).
The only other ‘accommodation’ is more of a mental one -- accepting that
(especially as of about the last 2 months) I’m just a lot slower than
‘usual’, and I need to allow more time and take things a bit more
easily.

What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while
pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience?
Do it! Absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t, and it’s just as much the
best way to get around when you’re pregnant as it is when you’re not
pregnant.

For me I think it was simply not an option that I wouldn’t cycle -- just
wouldn’t have occurred to me. That’s how I get around the place! (And
public transport doesn’t become free when you get pregnant...) So I’m
not sure I’ve taken much away from it, as it just seems like a normal
thing to have done.

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and
active during your pregnancy?
Walking the dog; climbing (which I seem to have finally stopped at about
36 weeks though will not rule out another little go on the wall before
the baby gets here...), going out dancing.

Family Day.

February 24, 2012


I'm usually blogging about biking and how it fits into the regular everyday stuff that we get up to here in the land of Chivesons (Chan + Iveson), but I don't often blog about how challenging it is for us to spend time together as a family.

Being self-employed, I went back to work 3 months after Dexter was born. Don generally works a more-than-full-time (I won't scare you with the hours) week, and we both work well into the evening. This means on most nights we don't eat dinner together. So when we do have the very rare family time when all three of us are around and available at the same time - it's a real treat!

Hence my enthusiasm for some family winter riding and hibernation this past holiday Monday.

We do "normal" people stuff, like bake blueberry muffins.


Dexter makes me do a photo shoot with his trains (Hiro and Gordon).


I drink a leisurely coffee, as opposed to the coffee I just inhale on my way out.


Dexter and aforementioned trains.


We bake up a bread and eat lunch, picnic-style. Dexter has discovered that he loves Dubliner cheese.


Then it's time to get saddled up to take Dougal to the river valley for family exercise!


We have some snow, but also lots of sun and sky.


And the rest of family day is spent, though not-so-exciting to some, blissfully chilling out.

However, Don DID manage to finish a bunch of reading for work amidst the down time:) We're always sort of working... that's just how we roll, so to speak.

Hope your holiday Monday had a bit of sun too!


Road Rash - Transportation and Identity

February 22, 2012


This is part of a series of posts featuring parts of my paper, Road Rash.


Transportation and Identity

North American bicycle writing also makes several links between transportation and identity. “For most people, their transport choices permeate their identities not in the sense of them being ‘a cyclist’ or ‘a motorist’ to the exclusion of other options; rather, transport informs identity through its interaction with other aspects of people’s lives” (Skinner 91). Skinner asserts that choosing a bicycle over a car, or vice versa, is dependent on more than just the ecological or economical impacts of such a choice. The issue of safety, much like the image of cycling overall, is a question of perceptions derived from the greater cultural milieu surrounding North American bicycle usage. “Whilst there are factors that prevent individuals from cycling, these are fluid and vary according to somebody’s personal circumstances: not just how experienced they are at cycling on the road but also their age, gender, employment situation, geographical location and so on” (Ibid 85). Skinner argues that understanding how people think of themselves as mobile creatures encourages a more realistic view of how transportation habits can be altered and changed. “The notion of identity can help us move beyond a ‘rational choice’ model of transport behaviour posited on an abstract universal individual, and replace it with an account of the differences in perspective and action that emerge from cultural variations between social groups” (Ibid). Before cycling can be made attractive to the average citizen, the activity has to be marketed effectively. It is this focus on identity that arguably makes car manufacturers very successful at promoting the use of motor vehicles. Marketing of lifestyle, status, and amusement in car commercials over the last several decades has fully formed positive associations with driving, and I would argue that those associations spill over to one’s sense of identity. Cars have been offered up as the solution to protection from the elements, transporting cargo, and safely ferrying one’s children about. It is no wonder that people have developed a reliance on cars and an attitude towards motor vehicles that renders them indispensable.

Many see bicycling as too dangerous, too sweaty, unreliable in bad weather, rough on clothes, and a bane to carefully coiffed hair. People live on steep hills, are too far away from work and stores, have to drop their kid off at school, need to carry too much, have to get to daycare after work, use their car for work, enjoy driving anyway because it’s easy, and—let’s not forget this, even though it usually goes unstated—we drive because our cars are so wrapped up in our personal identity. Most of us buy as much car as we can afford, and maybe even a little more, in part because it sends a message about our status to the rest of the world. Who isn’t a little more muscular or beautiful or stylish behind the wheel of that curvaceous new vehicle? (Maples 25-26).

The seemingly unique complexities of average North American life appear dependent on driving, as does the identity that is constructed through the scheduling of these activities and how people get there and back. Therefore, changing transportation habits in North America is all the more challenging based on these constructs. Asking a person to try cycling is not simply convincing people of making a choice that seems to be more sensible overall, and it is inevitably a request for somebody to question their lifestyle and what their transportation habits say about who they are. In this way, North American cycling literature has been occupied with discussing the why behind reasons people bike or not as opposed to the how.

Investigations into North American cycling literature also tend to lead the researcher in the direction of texts dedicated to the study and analysis of traffic and driving behaviour on the road. As indicated, many of the European cities that have adopted measures to promote and improve bicycle use did so out of a need to ease congestion. Another interesting revelation is that women make many of the trips taken by car.

Women make roughly double the number of what are called “serve-passenger” trips – that is, they’re taking someone somewhere that they themselves do not need to be. All these trips are squeezed together to and from work in a process called “trip chaining.” And because women, as a whole, leave later for work than men, they tend to travel right smack-dab in the peak hours of congestion (and even more so in the afternoon peak hours, which is partially why those tend to be worse). What’s more, these kinds of trips are made on the kinds of local streets, with lots of signals and required turning movements, that are least equipped to handle heavy traffic flows. (Vanderbilt 135)

The driving that women have to do would arguably be considered a necessity. The education, childcare, and earning potential associated with mobility, are likely something a family would defend vehemently, often as a right. From what we have gathered about the reason people drive, it can be assumed that use of motor vehicles symbolizes freedom of mobility and choice.

Traffic, Pisarski emphasizes, is the expression of human purpose. Another huge way in which those purposes have changed is due to rising affluence. It’s not just that American households have more cars, it is that they are finding new places to take them. And once you have shelled out for a car, the comparatively marginal cost of another trip is barely noticeable – in other words, there is little incentive not to drive. (Ibid 137)

Aside from being unable to steer away from mentions of European bike culture, it is also difficult to do any reading on North American bike culture without stumbling upon arguments and research into the relationship of bicycles with cars. In many instances the use of bicycles or the character of a city’s bicycle culture will be a result of, or reaction to car culture. This cause and effect relationship between personal mobility, identity, and transportation choices becomes inextricably linked. When delving into the writing on bicycle commuting in North America, many other issues surface that at first seem peripheral to the overall discussion on bikes. It goes beyond what bicycles are on the market and where to get them. The discussion often spills over to why people would choose to ride over drive, the precautions and methods they employ to protect themselves while riding, and what riding (or not riding) says about them. Particularly when we look at bicycling as transportation, the comparison to the experience of getting somewhere via bike versus car is inevitable. In short, North American bicycle commuting writing tends to deal with the struggle of making cycling normal and logical for most citizens.

If the decision to choose cycling and transit over a car seemed more logical, easy, and convenient, perhaps a higher percentage of average people would consider adopting cycling as part of their transportation routine. The more riders there are on the road, the less stigma there is attached to the daily bicycle commuting riding for average people. Though, without more people expressing an interest and imperative for investments in cycling infrastructure, there is little pressure for municipalities to move forward with plans that place importance on cycling infrastructure.

Networks for cycle traffic should extend from significant trip attractors, such as town centres, at least to 2 km and as far as 5 km, as over these distances the flexibility and freedoms of the bicycle are evident without undue exertion. It cannot be assumed that use of the bicycle for leisure purposes will follow through into use for utilitarian purposes, but promotion of the bicycle for utilitarian trips should recognise that the market comprises principally car-owning households” (Parkin et al 80).

Essentially, in order for a community to be bicycle oriented, several orders of organization would be required. Amenities and trips would have to be incorporated into a daily routine; such as getting to and from work, child-care, and school, would have to be located conveniently so that driving would not seem the sole practical choice. Sadly, it seems as though many average North American municipalities and their citizens have already made the mental and financial investment into owning and operating cars, and living too far away from such amenities. Once that investment has been made the geographical radius of what seems convenient and local changes greatly, thus pushing away from the need to create localized services and amenities that are easily reachable by bike.

________________________________________________
Works Cited

Basset, David Rowland., John Pucher, Ralph Buehler, Dixie L. Thompson, and Scott E. Crouter. "Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America, and Australia." Journal of Physical Activity and Health 5 (2008): 795-814. Print.

Brackett, Dorothy. "Bicycling and Self Esteem." Weblog post. Let's Go Ride A Bike. 18 May 2010. Web. 18 May 2010. .

Burgueño, Meli. Bikes and The City. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Byrne, David. Bicycle Diaries. New York: Viking, 2009. Print.

Chan, Sarah. Web log post. Girls and Bicycles. Web. 15 May 2010.
.

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Bike Helmet Protest in Melbourne." Web log post. Copenhagenize. 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Aug. 2010. .

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Cycle Chic Origins." Cycle Chic™ - The Original from Copenhagen. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .

"Cycling in the Netherlands." Ministerie Van Verkeer En Waterstaat. Web. 24 May 2010.
.

Davies, Julian. "Family Biking Ages & Stages." Web log post. Totcycle. 26 June 2009. Web. 21 May 2010. .

Dennis, J., B. Potter, T. Ramsay, and R. Zarychanski. "The Effects of Provincial Bicycle Helmet Legislation on Helmet Use and Bicycle Ridership in Canada." Injury Prevention. 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2011. .

Feucht, Dave. "Portland Bicycle Plan 2010." Web log post. Portlandize. 4 Feb. 2010.
Web. 27 May 2010. .

Fincham, Ben. "Bicycle Messengers: Image, Identity and Community." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Gill, M., and M. Goldacre. "Seasonal Variation in Hospital Admission for Road Traffic Injuries in England: Analysis of Hospital Statistics." Injury Preventon. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2011. .

Gotschi, Thomas, and Kevin Mills. "Active Transportation for America." Rails to Trails
Conservatory. Web. 24 May 2010. .

North Carolina School of Public Health. "Active Living by Design and Public Health." 8-80 Cities. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Halbur, Tim. "Women, Transit, and the Perception of Safety | Planetizen." Planetizen |
Urban Planning, Design and Development Network. 11 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 May
2010. .

Horton, Dave. "Fear of Cycling." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

"I Love Riding in the City." Urban Velo May 2010: 14-34. Print.

Kay, Jane Holtz. Asphalt Nation. New York: Crown, 1997. Print.

Looft, Sandra. Simply Bike. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Mackintosh, Philip G., and Glen Norcliffe. "Men, Women and the Bicycle: Gender and
Social Geography of Cycling in the Late Nineteenth Century." Cycling and
Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England:
Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Maples, Jeff. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State UP, 2009. Print.

Martinelli, Deandria. Los Angeles Cycle Chic. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Masoner, Richard. "Q&A with Eben Oliver Weiss Aka Bike Snob
NYC." Momentum May 2010: 26-27. Print.

O'Brien, Catherine. "A Footprint of Delight, Exploring Sustainable Happiness." NCBW
Forum Article (2006). Web. 25 May 2010.
.

Parkin, John, Tim Ryley, and Tim Jones. "Barriers to Cycling: An Exploration of Quantitative Analyses." Ed. Paul Rosen and Peter Cox. Cycling and Society. Ed. Dave Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Pucher, John, and Ralph Buehler. "Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany." Transport Reviews 28.4 (2008): 495-528. Web.

Scott, Todd. "Detroit." Momentum May 2010. Print.
Skinner, David, and Paul Rosen. "Hell Is Other Cyclists: Rethinking Transport and Identity." Cycling and Society. By Peter Cox and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Spinner, Justin. "Cycling the City: Non-Place and the Sensory Construction of Meaning
in a Mobile Practice." Ed. Dave Horton. Cycling and Society. Ed. Peter Cox and
David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Print.

Wesson, D., D. Stephens, K. Lam, D. Parsons, L. Spence, and P. Parkin. "Trends in Pediatric and Adult Bicycling Deaths Before and After Passage of a Bicycle Helmet Law -- Wesson Et Al. 122 (3): 605 -- Pediatrics." Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation. 2008. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Williams, Martha. Bike Fancy. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Wilson, David Gordon, Jim Papadopoulos, and Frank Rowland. Whitt. Bicycling
Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2004. Print.

Wilson, Mighk. "Bicycling Is Better » Which Cycling Politics: Doom or Possibility?"
Bicycling Is Better. 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 May 2010. .

Wood, Daniel B. "On the Rise in American Cities: the Car-free Zone / The Christian
Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com." The Christian Science Monitor –
CSMonitor.com. 2 May 2007. Web. 27 May 2010. .

dandyhorse!

February 21, 2012

photo by Raffaella Loro

Looking for inspiration to become a winter rider? Check out the feature that dandyhorse did on a few of us winter cyclists!


I like how the profiled Vancouver ladies are featured with overcast skies, and the dude from Winnepeg and I are featured with snow. Had it been a more severe winter, I'd be wearing my goggles too!

Three fist pumps to winter riding!

On most days, it's a piece of cake. It's not too late (in Edmonton) to give it a try...

A Day in the Week.

February 17, 2012


Let us all pay tribute to my patience, and celebrate the upgrade of my phone this week! Amidst my peers I was one of the last people standing using the first generation iPhone. I was stubborn, and didn't want to pay for a newer one until I qualified with my mobile provider.

The day finally came - new phone. It's so much faster. And I am most excited about the better camera. PRAISE!

I am now better able to show you the sorts of things I get up to on the bike when I am sans big camera.

Like how I ride winter Kona over to the Belgravia Playschool where I am teaching music classes.

And how I ride the bike over the train afterwards to go downtown for lunch.


The view of brown Edmonton in this pre-spring era.


Enhanced new ability to take self portraits.



And after lunch, it's riding back to the house and picking up Dougal for a bike ride along the river valley.


Can't imagine my winter world without a beater of a winter bike. Very handy these days with the gravel-y pavement and proliferation of bumps due to semi-thaw.

How have you guys been dealing with the "dark" time of the year? It's supposed to be over soon!

Road Rash - "Normal" Cyclists and the "Maverick"

February 15, 2012


This is part of a series of posts featuring parts of my paper, Road Rash.

“Normal” Cyclists and the “Maverick”

Where Europe seems to have a cycling demographic that includes normal citizens conducting everyday business, North American cycle writing seems to focus on a few specific demographics, such as bike messengers, who are depicted as thrill-seekers and risk-takers. The thought of such cyclists usually brings to mind images of an athletic male on a road bike with cycling shoes and a bike bag strapped across his chest. “Part of the image propagated by messengers is that of the ‘maverick’, an individualistic, unorthodox, independently minded person working in a hostile environment and adapting to situations as they arise” (Fincham 190). Because these sorts of cyclists make such an impression, whether positive of negative, the overall view of cycling as dangerous is thusly reinforced. These references also play into the stereotype that cycling is for a demographic of people who cannot find conventional, gainful employment, and that they live a marginalized, bohemian life. Unfortunately, this stereotype seems to be continually perpetuated in the culture of bike messengers. “Talk of maverick status in bicycle messenger circles transmits the narrative to be adopted by the rookie, the novice and the uninitiated” (Ibid 191). Where this image of cyclists exists, the prospect of a potential “normal” cyclist withers. Those who ride bikes without the visible identity of a bike messenger may go unnoticed or still maintain the image of the maverick, regardless. Rebranding an image associated with a marginalized activity such as cycling is no small feat. “There are, of course, the ever-present bike messengers, fuelled by pure adrenaline and their own private code of survival” (Maples 7). Due to the stereotypes of cyclists in North America, it is difficult for the general public to change its perception of cyclists as athletic and bold. In fact, this strong reputation has a way of perpetuating itself because its roots are so pervasive. “Finally, it is interesting to note that the attractions of cycling to messengers are the very things identified as disincentives to cycling in conventional accounts of the reasons for declining cycle use – danger, alienation, difficulty and effort” (Ibid 193). The bike messenger has become a crystallized image in the North American cycling world. As a result, the link between cycling, speed, and safety gains greater credence when referring to bikes, since the messengers have garnered such a reputation for perceived lawlessness.

___________________________________________________
Works Cited

Basset, David Rowland., John Pucher, Ralph Buehler, Dixie L. Thompson, and Scott E. Crouter. "Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America, and Australia." Journal of Physical Activity and Health 5 (2008): 795-814. Print.

Brackett, Dorothy. "Bicycling and Self Esteem." Weblog post. Let's Go Ride A Bike. 18 May 2010. Web. 18 May 2010. .

Burgueño, Meli. Bikes and The City. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Byrne, David. Bicycle Diaries. New York: Viking, 2009. Print.

Chan, Sarah. Web log post. Girls and Bicycles. Web. 15 May 2010.
.

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Bike Helmet Protest in Melbourne." Web log post. Copenhagenize. 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Aug. 2010. .

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Cycle Chic Origins." Cycle Chic™ - The Original from Copenhagen. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .

"Cycling in the Netherlands." Ministerie Van Verkeer En Waterstaat. Web. 24 May 2010.
.

Davies, Julian. "Family Biking Ages & Stages." Web log post. Totcycle. 26 June 2009. Web. 21 May 2010. .

Dennis, J., B. Potter, T. Ramsay, and R. Zarychanski. "The Effects of Provincial Bicycle Helmet Legislation on Helmet Use and Bicycle Ridership in Canada." Injury Prevention. 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2011. .

Feucht, Dave. "Portland Bicycle Plan 2010." Web log post. Portlandize. 4 Feb. 2010.
Web. 27 May 2010. .

Fincham, Ben. "Bicycle Messengers: Image, Identity and Community." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Gill, M., and M. Goldacre. "Seasonal Variation in Hospital Admission for Road Traffic Injuries in England: Analysis of Hospital Statistics." Injury Preventon. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2011. .

Gotschi, Thomas, and Kevin Mills. "Active Transportation for America." Rails to Trails
Conservatory. Web. 24 May 2010. .

North Carolina School of Public Health. "Active Living by Design and Public Health." 8-80 Cities. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Halbur, Tim. "Women, Transit, and the Perception of Safety | Planetizen." Planetizen |
Urban Planning, Design and Development Network. 11 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 May
2010. .

Horton, Dave. "Fear of Cycling." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

"I Love Riding in the City." Urban Velo May 2010: 14-34. Print.

Kay, Jane Holtz. Asphalt Nation. New York: Crown, 1997. Print.

Looft, Sandra. Simply Bike. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Mackintosh, Philip G., and Glen Norcliffe. "Men, Women and the Bicycle: Gender and
Social Geography of Cycling in the Late Nineteenth Century." Cycling and
Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England:
Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Maples, Jeff. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State UP, 2009. Print.

Martinelli, Deandria. Los Angeles Cycle Chic. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Masoner, Richard. "Q&A with Eben Oliver Weiss Aka Bike Snob
NYC." Momentum May 2010: 26-27. Print.

O'Brien, Catherine. "A Footprint of Delight, Exploring Sustainable Happiness." NCBW
Forum Article (2006). Web. 25 May 2010.
.

Parkin, John, Tim Ryley, and Tim Jones. "Barriers to Cycling: An Exploration of Quantitative Analyses." Ed. Paul Rosen and Peter Cox. Cycling and Society. Ed. Dave Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Pucher, John, and Ralph Buehler. "Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany." Transport Reviews 28.4 (2008): 495-528. Web.

Scott, Todd. "Detroit." Momentum May 2010. Print.
Skinner, David, and Paul Rosen. "Hell Is Other Cyclists: Rethinking Transport and Identity." Cycling and Society. By Peter Cox and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Spinner, Justin. "Cycling the City: Non-Place and the Sensory Construction of Meaning
in a Mobile Practice." Ed. Dave Horton. Cycling and Society. Ed. Peter Cox and
David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Print.

Wesson, D., D. Stephens, K. Lam, D. Parsons, L. Spence, and P. Parkin. "Trends in Pediatric and Adult Bicycling Deaths Before and After Passage of a Bicycle Helmet Law -- Wesson Et Al. 122 (3): 605 -- Pediatrics." Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation. 2008. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Williams, Martha. Bike Fancy. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Wilson, David Gordon, Jim Papadopoulos, and Frank Rowland. Whitt. Bicycling
Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2004. Print.

Wilson, Mighk. "Bicycling Is Better » Which Cycling Politics: Doom or Possibility?"
Bicycling Is Better. 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 May 2010. .

Wood, Daniel B. "On the Rise in American Cities: the Car-free Zone / The Christian
Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com." The Christian Science Monitor –
CSMonitor.com. 2 May 2007. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Cycling While Pregnant: Q&A with Anna

February 13, 2012



Name: Anna

Age: 31

Location: Chicago

Cycling for how many years: I learned how to ride a bike when I was 6, so 25 years.

Favorite part about cycling: I love cycling because there is something so fun about being able to move yourself faster than you can walk or run. We deliberately chose to live close to Chicago’s lakeshore path, which means that my commute is approximately 90% on the path and 10% on streets. Riding home along the lake in the summer is a wonderful way to decompress. On days when I don’t commute by bicycle, I take the train or bus, which takes just about as long as riding my bike round trip. Doubling up my commute and exercise leaves me lots of evening free time.

Bike(s) you ride: I ride a purple Cannondale. I have a rack on the back where I can put a bag with my work gear on one side and I have cargo space on the other side for summer stops to the farmers market or other errands. I’m looking forward to adding a co-pilot or chariot in the summer months to take the baby out with me.

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant: Comfort, exercise, and fun



How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily commute: I had “morning” sickness at the beginning of my pregnancy, and it corresponded with Chicago’s snowy 2011 winter months, so I didn’t ride for the first couple months of pregnancy. When the morning sickness was easing up, but still in effect, it actually motivated me to get on my bike the days the weather wasn’t terrible. Cold weather biking in the fresh air was better for my stomach than the normal smells of the bus and trains, and kept me from judging my fellow commuters for having garlicky lunches. Once spring hit, I biked to work almost every day until my 31st week of pregnancy. At that point the 13 mile (21km) round trip got to be too much for me, but prior to that I had logged 614 commuting miles (987km) while pregnant. From 31 to 40 weeks when I had my beautiful baby, I continued to bike to the beach, grocery store, and farmers market since those are shorter trips.

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant? I kept on expecting to feel wobbly or off balance at some point and it never happened. I also expected that at some point I just wouldn’t want to bike anymore, but as my belly grew it became much more comfortable to bike than walk. I was also surprised by the reaction of strangers to seeing me bike with a belly. Chicago’s lakeshore path gets pretty crowded in the summer, and most people walking or running were just putting it together that I was riding pregnant before I was past them, but I did get the occasional big smile, and one “Go Momma!”

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant? My husband was supportive of my choice to continue biking, as were most of my friends and family. A few expressed concern, but after I explained I had the support of my midwife, and that I don’t consider biking any more dangerous than my other choices for transportation, they were respectful of my decision. When my mother asked about it, I reminded her that we were Dutch and that the Dutch bike everywhere. That reminder and the fact that the vast majority of my rides are on the lakeshore path were enough to convince her.

What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling throughout your pregnancy? When I was pregnant, I switched out the handlebars on my Cannondale for cruiser style handlebars, and got a wider seat. This allowed me to sit up straight, which is great for my back and made room for my growing belly.



What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience? I would tell another pregnant woman to keep riding as long as she felt comfortable. I am so glad I kept riding throughout my pregnancy because at the end when it was uncomfortable to walk, I still felt good on the bike. It allowed me mobility that I may otherwise not have had.

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and active during your pregnancy? When I was pregnant I mainly biked and walked for exercise, with the occasional pre-natal yoga session.



Thanks Anna, for sharing your cycling-with-bump story with us!

Road Rash - Europe Versus North America

February 8, 2012


This is part of a series of posts featuring parts of my paper, Road Rash.

Europe Versus North America

The Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany have already made great strides in building their cycling cultures. These countries now act as models for other budding cycling cultures looking to emulate increases in citizen health, efficiency of transportation, and reduction of dependence on motor vehicles. The chief motivator for these model European cities adopting alternate forms of transportation was traffic congestion and the inefficient movement of people through the city. As Kay says in Asphalt Nation, you are “not stuck in a traffic jam, you are the jam” (13). Changes were made in these countries to encourage bicycling as a viable transportation alternative because traffic congestion was at a limit. The realistic solution was to reduce the number of motor vehicles on the roads so that people could move more efficiently from point A to B to lessen ongoing stress on the city’s infrastructure. The need to find a solution to traffic congestion is commonly the origin of these thriving cycling cultures. If the critical mass of motor vehicles motivated earlier investigations into transportation alternatives in the form of cycling for these European countries, then it seems logical that some North American municipalities are now following suit. Many North American cities, after all, have their share of cycling challenges. Seasoned cyclist David Byrne has had many experiences cycling in numerous North America cities and around the world. This is his impression of North American cycling.

I try to explore some of these towns—Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, Atlanta—by bike, and it’s frustrating. The various parts of town are often “connected”—if one can call it that—mainly by freeways, massive awe-inspiring concrete ribbons that usually kill the neighbourhoods they pass through, and often the ones they are supposed to connect as well. The areas bordering expressways inevitably become dead zones. There may be, near the edges of town, an exit ramp leading to a KFC or a Red Lobster, but that’s not a neighborhood. What remains of these severed communities is eventually replaced by shopping malls and big-box stores isolated in vast deserts of parking. These are strung along the highways that have killed the towns that the highways were meant to connect. The roads, housing developments with no focus, and shopping centers eventually sprawl as far as the eye can see as the highways inch farther and farther out. Monotonous, tedious, exhausting… and soon to be gone, I suspect. (8)

Because of the space and sprawl in North America, the impetus to develop cycling may be less because the solution instead seems to be continuing to build more roads in order to ease traffic congestion. As a result, bicycle commuting in North American trails behind the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.

When discussing new bicycle commuting cultures, two other countries that often get grouped in with North America (Canada and the US) are the United Kingdom and Australia. These listed countries are all limited in their cycling infrastructure and share the challenges of urban sprawl, traffic congestion, and poor population health due to a lack of investment in active transportation.

Walking and bicycling are much more common in European nations than in the United States, Canada, and Australia […] there is an inverse association between active transportation and obesity rates in these countries. These results do not necessarily indicate a causal relationship. However, given the fact that physically active individuals gain less weight over time, it is possible that active transportation is one of the factors responsible for international differences in obesity rates. (Bassett et al 811)

One of the greatest differences between cycling in North America versus cycling in some European countries is the active participation of government in Europe in promoting cycling to their citizens, and the additional extension of this active participation with making the prospect of driving unpalatable. Over time, choosing the bicycle over the car in these European countries seems normal and preferred because of the intervention from the top down.
The genesis of much cycle design guidance that is now adopted in the UK and elsewhere is the Dutch cycling design guidance, which identifies the following fundamental infrastructure requirements for cycling:
 Coherent/comprehensive: a comprehensive network linked to where cyclists begin and end their journeys;  Direct: a system of connections which is as direct as possible and avoids detours;  Attractive: design and integration with surroundings should make it pleasant to cycle;  Safe: facilities that guarantee safety from other road users and take account of personal security as well as road safety;  Comfortable: facilities that allow for rapid and comfortable flow of bicycle traffic. (Parkin et al 70)

These design guidelines encourage the vibrant masses of cyclists in European cycling countries. As a result of high ridership numbers, a cultural shift where bicycle commuting is normal has been successfully implemented.

Cycling in North America has not reached a level of normality for the majority of people because guidelines, such as the examples given, have not had the full support of government to be put into play. Instead, the dialogue around cycling in North America seems to orbit tediously around, and often ends with, the issue of safety. This frames the discussion around bicycles as dangerous and risky, which often deters those who would consider making a change in their transportation habits. On the other hand, European cycling seems to focus more directly on efficient and easy transportation, and less on the need for specialized gear and clothing as measurements of safety and protection from the elements. The pragmatic approach to promoting bicycle culture in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is an example of how a city or country can become successful in these cycling endeavours. Much of the discussion in current cycling literature in North America has to do with what initiatives have proven successful in the promotion of bicycle commuting elsewhere and how a given city or cycling culture compares and contrasts with current working model cities.

In Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, we see how successful cycling cultures were shaped with a strategic plan and concerted effort to re-imagine a city’s streets.
Not only do these countries implement far more of the pro-bike measures, but they greatly reinforce their overall impact with highly restrictive policies that make car use less convenient as well as more expensive. It is precisely that double-barrelled combination of ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ policies that make cycling so irresistible. (Pucher 525)

The findings of Pucher’s paper on European cycling are enlightening. When comparing the North American to European cities we see greater overall numbers in Europe and a greater percentage of women riders. Trips made by bicycle are reported to be ten times higher in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark than in North America with a diverse selection of riders ranging from men, women, children, and the elderly (Ibid 496). Here we see how cycling is distributed evenly over gender and age. One of the main reasons this may be the case is because:
Cycling in those countries is not viewed as requiring expensive equipment, advanced training, or a high degree of physical fitness. Nor are the cyclists forced to muster the courage and willingness to battle motorists on streets without separate bike lanes or paths. On the contrary, Dutch, German and Danish cyclists ride on simple, inexpensive bikes, almost never wear special cycling outfits, and rarely use safety helmets. (Ibid 496)
I suggest that cycling in the United States and Canada is still viewed as a largely recreational activity as opposed to a viable mode of transportation. Biking in North America continues to be perceived as an activity for a minority of thrill seeking sportsmen or a pleasant recreational activity. Pucher indicates that “transport policies, land-use policies, urban development policies, housing policies, environmental policies, taxation policies and parking policies” are the seeds for a successful cycling culture (Ibid 496). These are likely the same measures North American cities will have to implement in order for bicycle commuting to become attractive to the masses.

______________________________________________________
Works Cited

Basset, David Rowland., John Pucher, Ralph Buehler, Dixie L. Thompson, and Scott E. Crouter. "Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America, and Australia." Journal of Physical Activity and Health 5 (2008): 795-814. Print.

Brackett, Dorothy. "Bicycling and Self Esteem." Weblog post. Let's Go Ride A Bike. 18 May 2010. Web. 18 May 2010. .

Burgueño, Meli. Bikes and The City. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Byrne, David. Bicycle Diaries. New York: Viking, 2009. Print.

Chan, Sarah. Web log post. Girls and Bicycles. Web. 15 May 2010.
.

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Bike Helmet Protest in Melbourne." Web log post. Copenhagenize. 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Aug. 2010. .

Colville-Andersen, Mikael. "Cycle Chic Origins." Cycle Chic™ - The Original from Copenhagen. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .

"Cycling in the Netherlands." Ministerie Van Verkeer En Waterstaat. Web. 24 May 2010.
.

Davies, Julian. "Family Biking Ages & Stages." Web log post. Totcycle. 26 June 2009. Web. 21 May 2010. .

Dennis, J., B. Potter, T. Ramsay, and R. Zarychanski. "The Effects of Provincial Bicycle Helmet Legislation on Helmet Use and Bicycle Ridership in Canada." Injury Prevention. 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2011. .

Feucht, Dave. "Portland Bicycle Plan 2010." Web log post. Portlandize. 4 Feb. 2010.
Web. 27 May 2010. .

Fincham, Ben. "Bicycle Messengers: Image, Identity and Community." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Gill, M., and M. Goldacre. "Seasonal Variation in Hospital Admission for Road Traffic Injuries in England: Analysis of Hospital Statistics." Injury Preventon. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2011. .

Gotschi, Thomas, and Kevin Mills. "Active Transportation for America." Rails to Trails
Conservatory. Web. 24 May 2010. .

North Carolina School of Public Health. "Active Living by Design and Public Health." 8-80 Cities. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Halbur, Tim. "Women, Transit, and the Perception of Safety | Planetizen." Planetizen |
Urban Planning, Design and Development Network. 11 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 May
2010. .

Horton, Dave. "Fear of Cycling." Cycling and Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

"I Love Riding in the City." Urban Velo May 2010: 14-34. Print.

Kay, Jane Holtz. Asphalt Nation. New York: Crown, 1997. Print.

Looft, Sandra. Simply Bike. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Mackintosh, Philip G., and Glen Norcliffe. "Men, Women and the Bicycle: Gender and
Social Geography of Cycling in the Late Nineteenth Century." Cycling and
Society. Ed. Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. Aldershot, England:
Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Maples, Jeff. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State UP, 2009. Print.

Martinelli, Deandria. Los Angeles Cycle Chic. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .

Masoner, Richard. "Q&A with Eben Oliver Weiss Aka Bike Snob
NYC." Momentum May 2010: 26-27. Print.

O'Brien, Catherine. "A Footprint of Delight, Exploring Sustainable Happiness." NCBW
Forum Article (2006). Web. 25 May 2010.
.

Parkin, John, Tim Ryley, and Tim Jones. "Barriers to Cycling: An Exploration of Quantitative Analyses." Ed. Paul Rosen and Peter Cox. Cycling and Society. Ed. Dave Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Pucher, John, and Ralph Buehler. "Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany." Transport Reviews 28.4 (2008): 495-528. Web.

Scott, Todd. "Detroit." Momentum May 2010. Print.
Skinner, David, and Paul Rosen. "Hell Is Other Cyclists: Rethinking Transport and Identity." Cycling and Society. By Peter Cox and David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Spinner, Justin. "Cycling the City: Non-Place and the Sensory Construction of Meaning
in a Mobile Practice." Ed. Dave Horton. Cycling and Society. Ed. Peter Cox and
David Horton. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Print.

Wesson, D., D. Stephens, K. Lam, D. Parsons, L. Spence, and P. Parkin. "Trends in Pediatric and Adult Bicycling Deaths Before and After Passage of a Bicycle Helmet Law -- Wesson Et Al. 122 (3): 605 -- Pediatrics." Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation. 2008. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Williams, Martha. Bike Fancy. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .

Wilson, David Gordon, Jim Papadopoulos, and Frank Rowland. Whitt. Bicycling
Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2004. Print.

Wilson, Mighk. "Bicycling Is Better » Which Cycling Politics: Doom or Possibility?"
Bicycling Is Better. 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 May 2010. .

Wood, Daniel B. "On the Rise in American Cities: the Car-free Zone / The Christian
Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com." The Christian Science Monitor –
CSMonitor.com. 2 May 2007. Web. 27 May 2010. .

Dexter & His Trains.

February 7, 2012



This week I managed to get Dexter down to the library in his stroller, but he was pretty keen on going home on foot. Very cute and all... though SO SLOW. He really knows how to stop and smell the roses.

He refused to sit down on the train and was a show off about standing and holding onto the poles like a grown up. He also insisted on holding his Thomas & Friends DVD the entire time.



I ended up being the mommy that pushed her handbag home in a stroller.



I love how Dexter never seems to require my "help" anymore, unless it is in the evening when he wants to snuggle and there is nobody around to see. Bah!

Cycling While Pregnant: Q&A with Melissa

February 6, 2012

As part of my collaboration with S from Simply Bike, we have been gathering some Q&A's from other cycling ladies out there. Ladies, thanks for sharing!



Name: Melissa

Age: 28

Location: St. Louis, MO

Cycling for how many years: Going on seven years



Favorite part about cycling: Being part of the streets I ride through – really experiencing my surroundings. Getting around without a car. Knowing I’m doing something good for my health and for the environment

Bike(s) you ride: Kona Jake and Schwinn Voyager

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant: Normal, fun, empowering

How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily commute: Due to a job change prior to becoming pregnant, a daily [bicycle] commute was no longer part of the picture. To make up for this, I tried to use my bike as much as possible on the weekends to make sure that I could gradually adjust to my changing body.

For awhile, I mostly rode the Schwinn, which is a hybrid, because it seemed more stable, plus I thought the more upright posture would be more comfortable for my growing belly. Toward the end, I ended up on the Kona again – enjoying the advantages of a lighter and faster bike (to make up for my slower pace).

Weather also played a role. In the winter months, I was extra cautious about biking when the roads were icy, and once the heat of the summer hit (the last weeks of my pregnancy), I limited my rides to the cooler part of the day.

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant: Although I went into it with the goal of cycling up until the end, the fact that I did so was a bit of a surprise (a pleasant one) since I’d never been pregnant before and didn’t really know what to expect or how I would feel at various points.

At 34 weeks, I completed a rather intense 2-day cycling instructor training, involving hours of on-bike time in hot summer weather. Going into the weekend, I was pretty nervous, but we rode at an easy pace, and I not only completed the training, I felt great at the end!

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant: My husband, who also bikes, was very supportive. Since cycling for transportation was so much a part of my lifestyle already, I made my intentions to cycle throughout the pregnancy pretty clear from the beginning. Perhaps because of this (?), I did not hear anything negative from family or friends. I always wondered what strangers were thinking, especially toward the end, and I kept expecting to have to defend my decisions, but those situations never materialized.

What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling throughout your pregnancy: The main “accommodation” was relaxing the pace and intensity of my riding. Both of my bikes have straight top tubes (AKA “male” bicycle frames), and I considered getting a step-through frame to make getting on and off the bicycle easier. Toward the end, it was a little tricky, but both bikes I already had worked fine.

I did stop using my clip-less shoes/pedals to eliminate the risk of a silly fall.

What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience: Go for it! If you were already cycling before you were pregnant, you’re in a great position to continue throughout your pregnancy (of course, you should consult your midwife or doctor, but if they’re not supportive, consider getting a second opinion).

If you continue a regular cycling routine, you adjust to your new, changing body gradually, which eliminates or minimizes balance and discomfort issues.

Cycling throughout the pregnancy was very empowering. Toward the end, each ride felt like a fun accomplishment. I was proud of my body and its abilities, even while in such a different state!

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and active during your pregnancy: I lifted weights 2-3 times/week, modifying as necessary throughout the pregnancy. Early on, I would jog to the gym for lifting; later, I switched to walking. In general, I walked and moved as much as possible.



Biking with Baby.

February 3, 2012



In anticipation for biking with an infant - I wanted to share a few thoughts.

There has been a lot of talk on G&B about biking while pregnant lately, and so far everybody has been playing nice. There are occasional comments from others, about us pregnant ladies being careful and not overexerting ourselves when we're not feeling up to the task, but otherwise, biking while pregnant seems like business as usual to those of us who do it.

I would like to add that it would appear that naysayers should be mindful that most of us pregnant ladies don't seem to seek strenuous physical activity when we're not feeling well. It doesn't seem logical to need to be reminded not to... you know... do something that makes you hurt or feel ill.

This brings me to my gripe with biking with infants. We cycling moms seem to put on a smiley face and sort of avoid the topic because it brings forth all these opinions and possible judgment. But, the fact remains that most of the moms I know, even the ones who cycle, just sort of accept that you can't easily bike with an infant. We go on walks (oftentimes just to walk, not as transportation) or we wait until there is somebody else around so we can run away for a quick ride before we have to be back and nurse the infant. Doesn't sound easy and liberating, huh? Well, if you're used to biking almost everywhere - it isn't!



I'm not talking about cycling with a 1 yr old (which seems to be the general recommendation from trailer manufacturers and helmet companies). I'm talking about infants. I've seen it done in other countries before, where putting a baby in a front mounted basket is no big thing, but riding around with an infant isn't really a socially accepted activity here in North America.

Alright, so I understand that an infant is certainly not strong enough to sit upright and their necks are really wobbly. I'm not advocating for anybody to go out there and shake their baby through the power of pot holes and off-road racing. However, securing your baby's car seat in some sort of towing device, on a familiar residential route with little traffic, shouldn't be the end of the world. Obviously there are many variables to consider, such as the condition of the pavement, how fast you're riding, the experience of the rider, etc. I just think it feels rather limiting as a cyclist to be restricted from one of the ways I get around. The only reason I survive is because I live so very close to the train, and will have twice had the luxury of giving birth in time for summer. This all makes being a transit-oriented pedestrian much friendlier.

I've seen some cycling mamas and papas out there who are back on the bike with their infants as soon as possible, but it's still the sort of thing that appears to be for "alternative" people. My point is simply this: It doesn't seem very fair that a new parent's mobility is limited to such an extent when you use cycling as transportation. If we follow the logic laid out to us by helmet companies and child-cargo manufacturers, then, if you cycle and you happen to have a baby... you're not allowed to bike again for about a year.

This line of reasoning doesn't just strike me as odd. It makes me angry!

It seems to support the notion that having a baby is somehow an illness of sorts, or a burden. I am happy to make accommodations for a little one in the family. I don't think that has to mean we can't even go see mama's friend for lunch or get some groceries sans car. Having a baby shouldn't have to mean having a sedentary lifestyle, even if it's temporary.

So I don't have some sort of ultimate solution here. I'm not saying helmets have to be made for babies that are 4 weeks old. I'm not saying that all new moms should get back in the saddle and pedal around 100% of the time. I'm just saying I wish there were more options and more tolerance for those of us who don't like to think of having a baby as automatically having a ball and chain to one's car.

Meaet!

February 2, 2012



Forgive the weird biking-in-snow photos, the shutter speed on auto was being ridiculously slow and frankly, it was too cold to fiddle around with. So here we are!

Don and I biked to the train and went downtown to check out MEAET. It's a micro-fundraiser put on by Nextgen, as a part of the city's METROPOLIS winter festival. There are a bunch of wicked pavilions in the middle of the big square downtown, where Edmontonians can get-together and hang out semi-outdoors.

We were in the community pavilion, designed by Gene Dub, the architect behind our city hall.



I like how the light is constantly changing.





Though the pavilions are heated to a degree, it was still a coat-on sort of environment.



I liked going up on the gangplank.



We all gathered about and waited for the pitches.



How it works is people who are looking for some funding for their start-up project can make a 5 minute pitch. At the end of the evening, everybody in attendance votes on the idea they liked best, and the winner takes all the proceeds from the ticket sales that evening. Winners come back at the next MEAET to update the audience on how the project is proceeding.

Last time's winners were two teen moms from the terra centre. They used their start-up funds to begin filming an awareness video for teen parents!



We were fed a delicious comfort-food meal by Nomad. Very yummy - thanks!





After the meal, we heard the pitches!

They were all really good, featuring pitches to share local music on the Edmonton Queen, funding for a co-op of fashion designers-run boutique here in Edmonton, Edmonton's best kept secrets, local organic farming, and people-powered (read: bike powered) parties.



The winner took home over $800 for a concrete sculpture project that will be featured in a downtown park on the weekend of February 25th.

On our way home, it began to snow.





Just dust off that saddle and hop on.



When the roads are gross, I usually ride in a car's tire track.



Wee!



Have I mentioned? Love my winter bike.

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