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The US To Embrace Biking?

As a potential solution to combat the rising dangers and costs associated with climate change, many have advocated for a biking revolution in America, similar to European biking cultures such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

The benefits are numerous: less traffic on the roads making it easier for public and commercial transportation to get where they need to go; less carbon emissions from vehicles; a healthier population; cheaper fuel costs, etc.

There are problems associated with a biking revolution, but most of those are logistical issues such as bike paths and how to incorporate travel via bicycle into the current transportation system.

The biggest problem though is the unwillingness of Americans to make the switch to biking instead of driving.

Despite the dire warnings and looming consequences of climate change, there still doesn’t seem to be enough momentum behind a switch to have it come to fruition. There must be a catalyst to the revolution, and unfortunately, it is likely going to be a natural disaster which serves as the catalyst. Coincidentally, the catalyst may have happened in the form of Hurricane Sandy.

In the midst of the devastation in New York City from Hurricane Sandy, public transportation has come to a screeching halt. Buses can’t get from point A to point B, and the subway system has been put out of commission. As a result, New Yorkers are opting for bicycles to get around town. Emily Samstag, manager of Bicycle Habitat in Brooklyn, said the store outsold their busiest summer Saturday after the storm. Granted, the store only sold 15 bicycles on that day, but in October, it usually sells one bike every two weeks. In addition to selling bikes, the store also repairs them, resulting in many bike-owners bring them in to get maintenance.

While it is unlikely a biking revolution is underway at present, it does appear the previous cynical position toward the possibility of Americans using bicycles as primary transportation is incorrect. However, in the wake of a serious natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, it is not uncommon for trends to emerge.

Perhaps a positive effect of increased bicycle use will come out of the horrible negative effects of the storm.

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