The Bicycle Commute: Hurdles and Hope

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Commuting to work via bicycle is a lovely choice. It helps the environment, saves commuters a ton of money, helps people get fit and brings communities together.

But it is not without its challenges. There are fears about traffic and safety to overcome. A bike commute also presents certain logistical challenges as well. Those challenges can range from arriving at work looking presentable to figuring out where to leave the bike during the day.

Nevertheless, Greenville, South Carolina appears to be experiencing an increase in the number of people who are choosing to commute to work via bicycle. The city has seen an 80% increase in the number of bicycle commuters between 2000 and 2011 according to US Census Data.

What's the takeaway for us back here in Idaho? It's this: people are starting to see the value in this form of transportation. So now, more than ever, we need to make sure that we find ways to eliminate or mitigate the hurdles to going car-free.

What does that mean? It means creating safe bike routes. It means encouraging businesses to include bike racks in their parking lots. It means educating people on how they can overcome some of the hurdles on their own, using methods that dedicated bike commuters are already using in the absence of any support. It also means smart planning that links bike routes to bus and rail routes in intelligent, intuitive ways. 

Unfortunately, none of this is really optional. The price of gas alone may soon put a traditional car commute out of reach for many families. Encouraging bicycle commuting is a simple move that can have a sustainable positive impact on our communities for decades to come.