Monday, May 2, 2022

Break the Annual Cycles of Bike Month

The all-hours vignettes in the Bike Week ad of 1922 are very cute, but with Bike Month in 2022, and with ever increasing urgency on climate, it is clear we need to think more about "Drive Less" and "Don't Drive." Bike promotion itself has proven insufficient. It's time to break that annual cycle.

Bike Week in 1922

The ad in 1922 is a little breathless but basically is true and accurate. Bike travel is merry.

"Ride a Bicycle!" The sum total of economical, zestful transportation, of health-building, muscle-developing, and merry-making in the wonderful outdoor world, where Nature welcomes you as one of her own and makes you glad to be alive!

"At all times ride a bicycle"
Bike Week, May 1st, 1922

Contemporary studies echo this. Here's one from 2019.

Why the happiest? Let us tell you.

Salem doesn't seem to have much going on for Bike Month, but in cities nearby here are a few interesting events. Perhaps others will surface.

It would be nice to have more enthusiasm here in Salem for Bike Month, but it is clear that we will not reach our goals for improved bicycling and numbers of bicycle trips until we get more serious about reducing our subsidies and incentives for cars and car travel. No amount of cheery contests, bicycular amusement and bike culture, advertising and educational programming will sustain a shift to bikes until we quit artificially propping up cars.

The historical record is also clear on the cycles. It is our autoism that is the chief problem. Even at the end of the first first bike boom circa 1900, the earliest adopters, who led fashion and had significant discretionary income, were moving on to the new leading-edge and higher-status ground transport technology. For them, that cars were expensive and exclusive was a feature, not bug.

Cycles of optimism, in the lull after the First Boom
April 2nd, 1902

Nearly a generation later
May 31st, 1919

In 2009 at peak of another cycle

Here is a recent summary of "800 peer-reviewed reports and case studies from throughout Europe, published since 2010" on reducing car use. Overwhelmingly it shows that fees and gestures considered "sticks" are necessary in addition to the "carrots." Without the complementary negative side, positive reinforcement and enhanced choice do little.

Fees more effective than contests - Twitter

More detail from study

There is still more. The system and subsidy for our autoism is deep. Elements in land use, car design and regulation, and even tax law bias personal choice in favor of cars and car use, and need change. See "The Laws for Compulsory Autoism at The Atlantic" and "Police Publish Video on How to Speed Without a Ticket" for notes on Gregory Shill's recent research on subsidies for our autoism in the legal system.

On legal subsidies for driving
(composite from here and here)

At the moment, Bike Month is mostly ornamental, a cheery expression that leaves the autoist system intact, and perhaps even reinforces it.

Bikes are only part of the solution, and it is not necessary for everyone to embrace or enjoy it. But reducing driving calls for a multi-pronged approach to new policy and regulation, one that will ultimately make biking an ordinary travel choice, too banal for annual proclamations of Bike Month.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The Eugene eBike Expo was postponed to May 20th because of our crappy, rainy weather! See updated link for more details.