Archive for the Bicycle parking racks Category
Bike America in South Florida offers an incredible array of awesome bikes. But they also know how important it is to lock those bikes to a secure bicycle parking rack. That is why they decided to become a dealer/reseller for the Bike Rack Co.
Gary Mercado and Steve Barnes, the owners of Bike America, own shops in East Boca Raton, West Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Quiet Waters Park, Coral Springs, Sunrise and Pembroke Pines.
When you walk into one of their stores, unlike some other bike shops, you are immediately impressed with the cleanliness and sparkling array of all types of bikes, from Fatboys to Cannondales. They cover the bicycle gamut: road, mountain, cyclocross, commuter, comfort, cruiser, fitness, BMX and the hot new popular electric products.
“We have bikes for everybody,” said Steve.
Each employee wears a Bike America shirt and the bike repair area is up front, so you can see how well it is organized and the care the crew gives to each bicycle. All of that attention to detail gives visitors an impression of professionalism and pride in their work.
There’s also a complete selection of bicycle accessories and clothing for men, women and children. The company also offers bike repair and bike rentals. In addition, there’s a nice selection of helpful guides on their site – www.bikeam.com such as “How to Pick the Best Bike for You.”
Steve and Gary owned a hotel in Fort Lauderdale and after selling the hotel, started this chain of bicycle stores and repair centers.
According to Steve, the two are fitness buffs and “leisure cyclists” who always incorporated the health benefits of bicycling into their exercise regimen.
“Cycling is a fantastic way for anybody of any level to get fit and get moving,” he said.
The two also know the importance of bicycle parking. Bicycling is now growing as an activity around the country. In fact, some experts call bicycling the “new golf” now embraced by the large swell of retiring baby boomers with aging knees who want to stay fit and active.
As bikes fill the streets, more bicycle parking racks are required
While bicycling is booming, but Steve and Gary agreed there still seems to be a tremendous shortage of proper bicycle parking racks for the public. That’s why they are now offering bike racks from Bike Rack Co.
“There’s still an obvious need for an easy way to find bike security,” Steve noted.
Locking a bicycle, especially one that costs a few thousand dollars, to a tree or sign post is risky for bike owners for a number of reasons.
For one, there has been an upsurge in bicycle thefts by low-level criminals who now roam the streets looking to make a quick buck with a stolen bicycle. The FBI estimates more than 1 million bicycles are stolen every year.
To get to a bike, thieves have no problem cutting down a tree.
Clever crooks are also known to create “sucker” poles where they will dig up a sign that is a popular parking space for bikes. Then will then place the sign back into the ground loosely. An unsuspecting bicyclist will lock their bike and then walk away. The thieves wait anxiously around the corner, yank the pole out of the ground and then take off with the bike.
While in the hotel business, Steve said people would constantly come up to him and ask, “Where can I lock up my bike? Where is there a safe place?”
Bike America is a Bike Rack Co. reseller for Wave and U-Shaped bicycle parking racks that can accommodate up to 15 bicycles. They can also provide themed bicycle racks in any shape or with any artwork such as coffee cups, slices of pizza etc.
One item they are very excited about is the custom bike rack (see the Bike America custom bike rack above). With these custom and artistic bike racks, a business or organization can create a bicycle parking fixture with their logo or whatever artwork their imagination can come up with.
Steve says this has two benefits to a town – for one, it provides more secure parking for bicycles. The second benefit is the ability to add more aesthetically attractive features to a downtown area or sidewalk.
“Adding a bike rack is obviously great, but a bike rack with art is even better,” he said.
For businesses, a custom bike rack with their brand and logo is also like providing a mini-billboard that is visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Research shows providing a commercial bike rack in front of a business is a savvy marketing strategy. More than 50% of business owners say it increases their visibility to the public.
A study funded by Portland State University found that 67% of business owners say commercial bike racks increased foot and bike traffic in front of their location. Researchers also found that consumers who can easily reach a business by bicycle also tend to visit more often. Over the course of a month the study reported bicycling consumers will spend more money than a customer in a car.
As for bike paths, a study by the New York City Department of Transportation found that protected bicycle lanes lead to a 49% increase in retail sales at local businesses.
Steve and Gary both acknowledge that as the popularity of bicycling grows, the importance of adding more bike infrastructure and bicycle parking is critical. This is where bicycling groups and bike shops can become strong advocates and work with their local municipalities to ensure there is an adequate number of bicycle parking racks downtown, parks, stores, restaurants, etc.
There’s nothing sadder than seeing a youngster or adult come into a bike shop to purchase another bike after their bike has been ripped off. Or a bicycle that is damaged because it was not supported properly with the right type of bike rack.
Bicycle parking can also be a great way to cut down on traffic. If you make it convenient for people with adequate and protected bike lanes and bicycle parking, they will ride their bikes downtown to a store or restaurant. Another great benefit is to provide bicycle parking racks for events where traffic is always heavy and city streets are clogged for hours. Cities are finding great success with offering alternative means of getting to concerts or arts festivals.
According to the league of American Bicyclists, there is an 800% increase in parking availability when you replace two car parking spaces with a bike corral.
If you are a bicycling enthusiast or someone who is just curious about the sport and you happen to be in the South Florida towns listed above, check out Bike America. With their spotless décor and incredible variety of bikes and bike products, you will be impressed. It’s like visiting the Neiman Marcus of bicycle shops, but with very reasonable prices. And they will be glad to answer any of your questions, no matter how minor or how technical.
Steve, Gary and their crew know bicycles and they know the different levels of bicyclists. They want their stores to be seen as a resource for everybody and not just the elite bicyclist.
One thing a person is sure to know after they do visit, these guys are excited about the benefits of getting a person out of cars, off their feet and enjoying a spin around town on a bicycle.
Photo Caption Above: Gary Mercado and Steve Barnes, owners of Bike America, with a custom bicycle parking rack
There’s something about bicycling that creates a sense of community. Perhaps it’s because when people ride around town on a bicycle, you can actually see them as a real person instead of a shadow hiding in a big motorized box.
Maybe it’s also because all bicyclists are propelled by their own sweat and muscle power. There’s nothing elitist about that.
It was this allure of a common man with a broken bicycle that inspired Jack Hairston of West Palm Beach, Fla., to assist a bicyclist one day in front of his house.
Jack went into the garage, got some tools and started working. He fixed a bike and made a friend.
After that, several people came around Jack’s house seeking help with their bikes. Or advice and help on other matters.
Jack then realized how much of a need existed for just a simple bicycle for many families as their primary mode of transportation. He started fixing up old bikes and giving them away. He eventually filled up his entire backyard with bicycles and parts.
“I just wanted to make the community a little bit better,” he said.
A few reporters heard about his donations and covered the story. One gave him the moniker, “Jack the Bike Man.”
Fast forward 16 years later and Jack now circulates more than 5,000 bicycles from an enormous industrial warehouse, filled to the ceiling with bicycles of all types for his children’s bicycle charity. The facility also has a repair area, office, store and racks upon racks of tires and parts.
The bikes keep pouring in, he says. Every morning people will drop off a handful after cleaning out a shed or a garage. He has four full-time employees and a huge team of volunteers who then repair the bikes or dismantle them for the parts.
All year his team gathers bikes, repairs them and sells them. This activity is mainly conducted in anticipation of one day every year, just before Christmas, when hundreds of children get the opportunity to own their own bicycle for free. Jack and his crew will give away more than 1,000 bicycles that day.
For the event (he keeps the date confidential to limit the size of the crowds) he has a huge group of volunteers who help him. Many are local retirees. They match the children with the right bike for their size and then adjust it so it rides perfectly.
Jack the Bike Man works with churches and non-profit groups and counts on them to help determine the low income families and children who are genuinely down and out. He’s had people drive up to his warehouse in Cadillacs and Escalades asking for bikes, but prefers to reserve the gifts to the underprivileged who can’t afford a bike, let alone a car.
At times, when impoverished families can’t come to his place, he’ll go to theirs. One time he made a delivery of 30 bikes to children in Indiantown. He had information about the children prior to his visit so he was able to find the appropriate bicycle for their height and weight and he even added a tag with each of their names on the bike.
“We try to do it just right,” Jack said. He pointed out that the children really when thrilled when they saw a bike with their name on it. Made it a more personalized, special experience for them.
It’s not just children and teens who receive Jack’s bikes. If a homeless person or a grown-up from a halfway house comes up asking for a bicycle to get around town, Jack offers them one. As long they spend time working in his shop to repair or clean bicycles.
Some youngsters just walk up and say, “Hey, give me a bike.”
Not so easy. Jack tells them first they will need to work on three bikes. One is for the warehouse. Then Jack asks them if they have a friend who might need a bike. The second bike repaired will be for that person. The youngster then gets to keep the third one after he’s earned it.
Jack also makes a point to teach children how to maintain their bicycles and make simple repairs.
“The idea is that they will then take care of it a lot longer,” he explained.
Generally once a year Jack the Bike Man receives coverage by the local newspapers and TV stations on the day of his massive bike giveaway.
But when you visit his warehouse, you can see that it takes quite a bit of effort every day of the year to make this happen.
Space is always a concern. Jack is constantly on the move, trying to find adequate storage for all the bicycles that are donated. He once kept them in his backyard, but then people kept hopping over the fence and stealing the inventory to sell for drugs.
He’s moved around town a few times. Sometimes he finds cheap space in places, but they are generally in areas with high crime rates. One day, he was attacked after receiving a call that people were breaking into his warehouse. He suffered a broken nose, broken wrist, lost a few teeth and a pair of glasses.
But that didn’t stop him.
Raising money is the big challenge
While people donate many bikes, many of them need repairs. That requires a paid staff. Jack also buys thousands of new tires every year and thousands of bicycle helmets. You can repair most old bikes, but you really can’t repair worn out tires.
The kids need helmets. As any bicyclist knows, it can be dangerous out there. Florida streets are some of the worst in the nation for injuries and the state leads in the number of bicycle deaths.
Jack said, “I’m just tired of all these (bike) accidents.”
The charity also supplies locks. There’s nothing worse than seeing the joy in a kid’s eyes when he or she gets a bike, only to have it disappear when the bike is stolen later.
To generate funds to pay for all this, Jack sells many of the bicycles.
He’s got quite the inventory too. Not just used beat-up bikes, but some genuinely great cycling treasures. There’s a whole row of cool vintage bicycles, like a 1950 Raleigh or an antique Huffy. While there, a repairman was seen refurbishing a gorgeous, classic Schwinn.
There is also an array of quality mountain bikes, beach cruisers and some high-end racing bikes – even with titanium and carbon frames. Fantastic stuff!
Another way Jack the Bike Man brings in revenue is to provide bike repair services. He’s open seven days a week and a steady stream of supporters continually bring in their bikes to be fixed.
No one including Jack knows how long he will keep this up. He’s certainly touched a lot of lives. While there are plenty of hardship cases for bikes in a county of 1 million residents, Jack has also donated hundreds of bicycles to people in places like Haiti or Guatemala. People around the world all have a need to get around.
He’s also touched the lives of many people who have come to work for him in the warehouse. In a way, it’s become a home for people uncertain about what to do with their lives. Jack welcomes them in and gives them a job to occupy their time while they sort things out.
“What else would I be doing?” he asked. “I might as well help the kids. I’m broke so I don’t have any money to spend on anything else. This keeps me busy.”
As bicyclists know, there’s something magical about a bicycling community.
Jack the Bike Man, who you could say has a wizardly look about him, has been on one heck of a ride providing wheels and pedals to thousands of people who can’t afford a bicycle. There certainly is something enchanting about that.
To learn more about his non-profit bicycle charity, to donate a bike or to buy a bike (again, there are some real finds in his shop), go to www.jackthebikeman.org. His number is 561-832-0071.
(Top Photo: Pictured above is Jack Hairston (left) and Patrick Halliday of The Bike Rack Co. The Bike Rack Co. donated three bike racks to the “JackTheBikeMan.org” charity.)
Bike thefts are on the rise. Bikes are an easy target for street thieves. Placing bike rack parking in a highly visible location can deter thefts. So can a huge pair of eyes.
First the bike rack parking strategy. Thieves are always on the lookout for easy prey. That is their nature. If they see a bike locked to a fence in back of a business or sitting behind a fence in an open yard, they are going to strike.
The solution. Secure, sturdy bike racks. Placed in highly, visible locations.
Sure, it may be easy for some customers to lock their bike somewhere behind a business. Attach it to a water meter or a fence or a tree.
But when that customer’s bike gets ripped off, they are not going to be happy. No business wants unhappy customers. No one wants an unhappy customer who vents his frustration on social media and tells all his friends how his bike got ripped off behind Cindy’s Cappuccino and Cupcakes Shop. In their mind, Cindy’s is no longer the place to go.
But what if Cindy installed a wave bike rack for five bikes in front of her business? Less than 50 feet from her front door. In line of sight for people sitting down to have a caramel cappuccino and coconut cupcake.
Wouldn’t that create a pleasant and welcome experience for bicycling customers? Wouldn’t a wave bike rack attract bicyclists to park their bikes in front of Cindy’s Cappuccino and Cupcakes Shop? And since they are now parked, why not stop in for a cup of coffee before they venture elsewhere or when they return.
Not only is bike rack parking good for bicycles, they’re great for businesses. Consider this as well – you can fit about 18 bikes in a single car parking area. That’s like adding a convenient way for dozens of customers to frequent your business. And bicyclists are a tight knit group. They are going to tell their friends about the bike rack parking at Cindy’s coffee shop.
However, there still is the problem of stolen bikes. Perhaps you can’t locate bike rack parking right in front of your business. Or perhaps, you manage a university where there are hundreds of bike racks and still there are hundreds of bike thefts.
Arizona State University for example, reported that 503 bike were stolen on campus in one year. Repeat that same scenario across hundreds of universities in this country alone.
Most bike thefts go unreported. The FBI estimates the real number of bicycles thefts is about one million annually. That’s indicative of a MAJOR crime wave.
Put a pair of eyes overlooking bike rack parking
So here’s one more strategy to consider. If you can’t put a live pair of eyes watching the bikes from a storefront window, consider adding a poster with a big pair of eyes staring down.
In a two-year experiment, the security manager at Newcastle University in England placed a poster with two huge watchful eyes looking over nearby bike rack parking.
Researchers who participated in the experiment reported that thefts at the bike racks dropped a whopping 62%. More than a three/fifths decrease. That’s huge.
Conversely, bike racks where the eye posters were not located, saw an increase of 63% (how’s that for a coincidence?).
Okay, we’re going to say it – “the eyes have it.”
Doesn’t have to be an eye. Why not use an “electronic eye” and place a camera with a sign over the bikes? A big sign. You don’t have to tell the thieves this. But you could try this approach without even hooking up the camera to a computer monitor or recorder. Make it a fake eye.
Now, with visible, sturdy bike rack parking in plain view coupled with a pair of eyes, on a poster or in a webcam, you have a major deterrent to bike theft. The bikes are no longer easy prey.
While thieves are getting greedier and more clever with their lock-cutting tools, police are also getting more vigilant. So are groups of bicyclists.
For example, in New Orleans, there’s a Facebook group called Stolen Bikes NOLA that posts pictures of stolen bikes and more brazenly, mug shots of arrested bike thieves.
In fact, acting on tips, this group has even tracked down houses that served as chop shops for stolen bikes and reported them to police.
There are also many Twitter sites devoted to posting stolen bikes and recoveries. Like Stolen Bikes Indy here. A fantastic use of social media.
Groups have also met with police to make sure they pay attention to this growing trend of walking away with someone’s else’s bicycle. Again in New Orleans, advocates have asked police to tighten up their bike sale laws.
For example, if someone sells a bicycle to a bicycle shop, all the shop owner has to do is ask for a name and address. Imagine how many “R. U. Kiddings” and “GoodLuck N. Kathchinmes” wrote down their names and disappeared.
Bike advocates want the shop owners to photocopy a driver’s license or photo ID as well. Put some teeth in that requirement.
Another suggestion is to ask police to conduct stolen bike stings from time to time. They usually know where the thefts occur (or tell them). Thieves generally return to the same spots for easy pickings. Nail them in the act.
Ironically, in one town, a thief brought in a bicycle to a local bike shop to sell, only to discover the bicycle was owned by one of the employees who just reported it stolen. Thank you very much.
Bicyclists are fed up. There is something really personal when someone steals a fellow human’s bike. I imagine in the Old West days, it was similar to stealing a horse. People get attached to their bicycles. Thieves care less and will take a very good and expensive bicycle and dismantle it for parts…and a few measly bucks.
Fight back. Get your town and local businesses to install commercial-grade bike rack parking. Put eyes on those bike racks. Be sure the police have officers dedicated to tracking down bike thieves. Organize fellow riders to watch for missing bicycles.
You worked hard to acquire a bicycle that is a perfect fit for your needs and tastes. These strategies work in stopping criminals from deciding they want to own that bicycle as well.
The FBI says that in the three seconds it takes you to read this, a bicycle is stolen in the US.
With the proliferation of bikes in America, especially the high-end, expensive types, thieves are now constantly checking every bike parking rack and other areas for easy pickings. (Be sure to watch video below).
Many are savvy on how to cut or break a lock quickly and arm themselves with tools that can get through chains, trees or even the most expensive locks.
The inherent problem with bicycle theft is that the loot also acts as the getaway vehicle. Leave a bicycle unlocked in front of a store and it can literally disappear in five seconds.
One major problem is that most bike owners right now are still making it too easy for the thieves. They either don’t lock their bikes to a bike rack or lock them improperly.
It would be great if all bicycle enthusiasts got together and just made bikes an unwelcome target. Here are a few tips on how you as a bike owner can fight back and protect your possessions against these malcontents with no respect for bike owners.
Ways to secure your bike properly to a bike parking rack and other anti-theft tips
– Rule No. 1, always lock your bike to a sturdy bike parking rack. As we said, it takes seconds to steal one and a bicycle conveniently comes ready-made as a way to flee the scene quickly. Read first-hand accounts from thieves. They will tell you they watch locations where people think they can just park their bikes for a second and run into a store. Then they strike.
– Get the right type of lock. Most experts out there will tell you that a U-lock is the best lock and the hardest to break. Crooks have learned how to cut chains and cable locks. The tools they need are easily obtained. They also have learned how to break padlocks. (Here’s a photo of one prolific bike thief in Portland showing off his bolt-cutters. The police know him and continually arrest him).
Be aware, even the strongest U-lock can eventually be cut. That’s something to consider if you are leaving your bicycle attached to a bike parking rack overnight or for a few days. Better to keep it locked inside somewhere.
– Use more than one lock. A thief walks up to a bike parking rack. He’s got a cutting tool. He’s going to be looking for two things – the nicest bikes and the ones that are the easiest to rip off. If you have two locks on your bike and everybody else has one, then your bike is the least likely target.
Also, mix the locks up. Use a U-lock to lock the frame and back tire and a cable lock for the front tire and frame. This way a crook needs two different types of tools. Plus it will take him longer to cut both looks. Time is the enemy of thieves. So make stealing your bike a time-consuming endeavor.
– Find highly-visible bike racks. As we said, just because you locked your bike to a stable and secure commercial bicycle rack doesn’t mean your bike can’t be stolen. The ideal location for a bike parking rack is in front of a busy store or restaurant, out in the public view. Those bike racks should be no more than 50 feet from an establishment.
If there is a store, coffee shop, book store, restaurant, bar, etc., that quite a few bicyclists seem to frequent, talk to the business owner about adding commercial bike racks. Explain to them that there is a great return on investment with bike parking. Studies show consumers who bicycle tend to visit a business more often than motorists and spend more money over the course of a month.
Also, if a business adds a 15-bike wave bicycle rack for example, in essence they are creating 15 parking spots in front of their business. A customer rides a bike to their business or rides a car, doesn’t matter, a customer is a customer.
Tell this to businesses. If you belong to a local bicycle club or have friends who bicycle, let that business owner know you will support that business if they provide a bicycle parking rack. There are also options to add custom bike racks with a business logo or promotional message. That’s like having a mini-billboard 24/7 promoting their business 365 days a year.
– Find a thick bike parking rack. The old-style grid bike racks are generally meant for short time bicycle parking in high-visibility locations. Look for a bike parking rack made with thick piping. This is the popular type of bike rack you now generally see in many locations.
– Try to only lock your bike to a heavy-duty commercial bike rack. You’ve seen it. People will lock their bikes to just about anything. But there can be consequences. For example, if you lock a bike to a tree, a thief with a saw will just cut the tree down. Nobody wants that.
Some people will lock their bikes to railings. Their bike then gets in the way of pedestrians. People can get hurt.
Others will lock their bikes to signposts or parking meters. Well, guess what. Some cities actually have fines for doing this. Forget the thief, city workers will cut the lock and confiscate your bike.
Another sneaky practice is the use of “sucker poles.” This is where thieves pull a sign out of the ground and make it easy to remove. An unsuspecting bicyclist will lock their bike to the sign and walk away. One yank and the sign is out of the ground and the bike is gone.
– Go high-tech with GPS. There are now companies out there that sell GPS devices to track your bicycle should it be stolen. Some of those companies are BikeSpike, Lock8 and Helios. Kryptonite, popular sellers of U-locks, also has a GPS product. LoJack, the GPS recovering device used in cars, once had a product for bikes and motorcycles but discontinued sales. They say they might bring that product back.
– Be prepared if your bike is stolen. Stuff happens. You can have your bicycle parked out in front of a busy restaurant, under a street light, locked to a sturdy bike parking rack, secured in the front and back of the bike. Someone could jump out of a van with a high-tech cutting tool and still rip you off.
But you can be ready for them. For one, get the serial number from your bicycle. There usually is a number at the base of the bike under the crankset where the pedals are located. You probably have to turn the bike upside down to find it.
You can also find a hidden spot to scratch your own identification marks. Another trick is to tape a card underneath the seat or hide a piece of paper inside the handle bars.
Take a photo of your bike. Shoot a photo of the identification numbers. Include photos of any unique characteristics.
Another smart move is to register your bike with local registries. Most police departments now have forms you can fill out that will be stored in their database. Sounds like a pain to do. Not really. Will literally take you less than 30 seconds.
But this will give you tremendous piece of mind. For one, police departments frequently recover a bunch of stolen or abandoned bicycles. Some thieves might just steal a bike for a one night joy ride and then ditch it on the side of the road.
Secondly, if you come across your bike at a flea market, used bike store or a pawn shop, you are going to need proof that you own that bike. Once you can show this to police, they can then yank it out of the hands of the person who stole it, or bought at a steal of a price.
What to do if your bike is stolen from a bike parking rack or elsewhere
If you happen to walk out of a store and find your bike is gone, don’t just grieve and give up (as most people do. Most bike thefts go unreported). Be proactive.
Immediately report the theft to police. They are usually in tune with who is currently stealing bikes to support drug habits or careers as small-time criminals. Also, they will periodically come across bike chop shops where bikes are disassembled and reassembled for sale. If you have the identification marks and the bike registered, you can still recover the frame or other pieces.
If you have a high-end bike that is stolen, be on the lookout. Check out Craigslist and EBay. Visit a few flea markets. Used bike shops. Pawn shops.
Thieves generally have a few spokes missing and are not in the brightest demographic. They might not sell your bike down the street from where it was stolen, but they probably won’t go further than the other side of town.
– Insure your bicycle. There’s a common misconception that bicycles are covered by homeowner insurance policies. That is not necessarily the case. You need to check with your insurance agent to be sure. There might be hidden riders. Get bicycle coverage in writing.
You need to check what your deductible would be as well. A $200 bike might be covered by your insurance policy but if your deductible is $300, you are out of luck.
Also, when you buy a lock see if there is a warranty in the event the bike is stolen. Kryptonite has a bike protection plan. Visit their site for more details.
Finally here’s a bit of advice that is funny and sad at the same time.
Some experts actually suggest you make your bike look ugly or artsy. Paint it with some crazy colors. Add some funky decals or decorations.
This has two purposes. For one, if your bicycle is positioned next to a nicer one at a bike parking rack, then yours is less likely to be stolen. If the thief is acting alone, he can only steal and ride one bike at a time. (Anytime you see someone riding down the street riding a bike and pulling another bike, might be a good time to call the police).
Secondly, a thief is not looking to stand out when they steal a bicycle. If you have an outrageously decorated bicycle, no criminal will want to be seen riding that thing down the street. And no purchaser of stolen goods will want to buy a bike that draws attention like a purple dinosaur.
Bike theft is a stark reality in these times. Thefts are on the rise. It is estimated one million bicycles are stolen in the US every year. Crooks actively check a bike parking rack or other locations for a quick score. Don’t let them make you their latest victim.
Finally, here’s a YouTube video of a woman who is not going to let anybody steal her bike and puts the hammer down on a theft in progress.
Is it possible we are seeing the end of the automobile as a popular mode of transportation? Will we see more self-driving cars instead of SUVs, more bicycle parking racks than parking garages and more people on buses than in BMWs?
Look around. Put your ear to the ground. What do you hear? It’s not car tires. It’s the sound of bicycle tires, light rail and footsteps walking to the curb waiting for an Uber.
This car-less preference is definitely taking place now in cities. There’s been a flurry of articles or newscasts recently about Copenhagen or Amsterdam and how those cities have replaced the car with the bicycle. Other cities around the world are taking notice.
They had to. Metropolitan areas are choked with too many cars. Commuters are sick of all the congestion. Residents are sick of the pollution.
To put a twist on an old Yogi Berra saying, “People aren’t driving there anymore. There’s too much traffic.”
Many are opting to pedal instead. According to the American League of Bicyclists, from 2000 to 2013, the number of people bicycling to work has increased by 62%.
In bike-friendly cities, that amount rose by a whopping 105%.
Millennials prefer bikes and bicycle parking racks
But here’s the real trend that will mean a sea-change in America when it comes to automobiles. It all has to do with Millennials, the iPhone generation, the next generation to take the reins.
Driving by young people dropped 23% between 2001 and 2009. From 2007 to 2011, the age group most likely to buy a car was not newcomers to the work force, but people in the 55 to 64-age group.
According to a University of Michigan study, in 2010 only 69.5% of 19-year-olds in the US had a driver’s license compared to 87.3% in 1983.
What happened? Getting your driver’s license used to be a rite of passage. Now, not so much. That milestone has been replaced by one’s purchase of the newest iPhone or smartphone.
Young people are more interested in technology than they are in automobiles. They’ve see the long commutes their parents drive, they see the escalating cost of buying and maintaining a car, they see how hard it is to find a parking space.
“Meh,” they might think. “I’ll hop on an Uber instead.”
Or, if there is an adequate bicycle infrastructure with bike lanes and bicycle parking racks, “I’ll just ride my bike there.
That’s because there’s an attitudinal shift with young people today regarding transportation. They just want to go from A to B and they don’t particularly care if they do it in a $40,000 Lexus or someone else’s $25,000 Prius.
In 15 years the market for self-driving cars is expected to hit $87 billion. It’s not just Google looking at this technology; all the big automakers are jumping on board. They have to.
Another trend that is monumental is the Millennials shift to the cities instead of the suburbs. In the cities, you don’t need a car at all.
Last year Americans took 10.7 billion trips on mass transit modes of transportation such as trains and buses, up 37% since 1995.
Stung by the Great Recession, Millennials are moving to the cities because that’s where the jobs are. Once there (and paying skyrocketing rents), they will forego the idea of a car. A bicycle is more appealing – healthier, quicker and creates less pollution.
And a big plus, it’s cheaper – there’s no car insurance, expensive gas, costly maintenance, exorbitant parking fees or rising tolls.
Finally, consider this: an automobile is a very wasteful investment; it’s a huge metal appliance that sits idle for most of the day and night. Fills up an entire space in a garage.
If anything, the younger plugged-in generation is all about efficiency. Why write a letter when you can email? Why call when you can text? Why contact a friend when you can tell all your friends what you are up to all at once on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. Why own a car, when you can bike or hop on a train?
People in bike-centric cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam not only own bicycles because they like to ride. They own them because it is the quickest and cheapest way to get around.
Americans had a big love affair with automobiles. But we’ve peaked. The next century will be a period of mass transit, bicycle parking racks, bike lanes, bike sharing, car-sharing and driverless cars. People prefer to spend less time driving and more time doing something else. The world is changing to meet that demand.