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Sunday, January 12, 2014

The unstoppable rise of bikes @salon @ellyblue #letsride

It’s hard to deny that bicycles are having a moment. Last year saw New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Columbus all get bike-share systems of their very own — joining Boston, London, Paris, Dublin, Moscow, Hangzhou, Montreal and many, many other cities throughout the world. Increasingly, people are talking about bikes as a replacement for cars (and even trucks), debating the best ways to design bike lanes and bike-friendly intersections, dreaming up futuristic bike paths and, above all else, taking to the streets on two wheels.
But bicycling’s recent rise to the spotlight isn’t just a passing fad, argues writer and bike activist Elly Blue. Instead, she says, growing numbers of people are beginning to recognize the tangible benefits — to themselves and to their cities — of trading in cars for self-powered transportation. And the research is backing up their experiences. Blue’s new book, “Bikenomics,” draws on a growing body of academic work, along with her own involvement with the country’s bicycle movement, to make the economic case for bicycles. As for the people who insist, in the face of such evidence, that bike commuters are a scourge on humanity? Blue maintains they’re just bitter from spending so much time stuck in traffic.
Blue spoke with Salon about the bike movement’s recent rise to prominence and the way in which old stereotypes no longer pass muster. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Your book takes on a lot of misconceptions held by people who don’t bike. You talk about things like safety, the convenience of having a car, and biking in inclement weather. And you make the case that a lot of those excuses aren’t so legitimate when you look at them more closely. What do you think is driving those misconceptions?

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