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When I bike to work through rock-creek park at 5:30AM, every morning, I see dozens of bikers. I think that a lot of bike commuters take back-roads, so of course fewer people see them. By 9Am the rack at my work in silver spring is full.

When I got off yesterday I went to Adams Morgan at 3PM, again all the racks were full. I think I took the last space. Around 5PM I'm down at the WSC gym in Dupont, and again all the racks are full, and the posts, everything has bikes locked too it. I had to walk a block down.

Now I realize it's June, but I distinctly feel like there's more bikes on the road than this time last year.

The problem with counting new bike sales is that it's not necessarily connected to rates of bike commuting. A lot of people tend to use their old junk bike (which they still love) for commuting, and they only break out the shiny new race or mountain bike for leisure activity.

It's true that bike commuting is becomming a trend in cycling, and you can see it at the store, but if you look at the bike commuter rack at my work, you're going to see a lot of really beat-up old bikes - and these belong to people that make pretty nice salaries.

Of the people I know who bought bikes for commuting in the city, three bought mountain bikes, and one bought a cyclocross bike. I'm riding a really old road bike with a few modifications.

I wouldn't be so quick to discount the racer-wannabes as commuters, and to contrast that with bikes that cater more to consumers.

I don't have a lot of money, and I like bike racing. Thus, I ride the same bike for racing and for commuting. (Though a Lance Armstrong racer wannabe I'm not - I liked bike racing long before Lance Armstrong yellow bracelets became a fad, and though I'm no pro - not even close! - I'm certainly not a "wannabe.")

But my own experience is not the only evidence I'm going by. All you need to do is look at the local roads and trails in the morning and evening - you'll find plenty of folks riding "racing" bikes carrying a load upon their shoulders from work.

the trails seem pretty darn crowded to me...

we need more trails

it is a simple notion

if there were more safe commuter routes
more people would commute

then
the cars need to learn how to behave around bicycles

too many people are intimidated by the many variables of bicycle commuting

safety is a big barrier
people do not feel safe
and rightfully so

gwadzilla is right on the mark. people do not feel safe cycling around cars. Lance Armstrong wannabees is a brilliant term- the racers and recreational cyclers in the USA have too much influence.You do not need spandex to use a bike everyday and to use it as a tool or as a cargo vehicle. Racing cycles are NOT PRACTICLE and you cannot carry anything on them - nor are they useful for commuters- although I support any cycle commuters- I just do not like the over-emphasis on the sports and recreation to the detriment of the useful down to earth cycling possibilities......

I was not trying to discount racer wannabes at all. I believe that those are the most likely future bike commuters. My point was that post Lance Armstrong, road biking took off as a fad. Some of those people have moved on and a drop in sales is really a movement back to the norm and not indicative of a drop in bike commuting, but a drop in bike recreation.

they gave up trying to be Lance and went back to driving their SUVs.

The Census Bureau figures come from the American Community Survey that they organize. They do rely on self-reporting of the method of commute. Note that if you go to the detailed tables the Census Bureau put out at the time of the press release, you can see that the estimated rate of biking to work in DC is 1.7%, seventh highest in the nation. Portland is first. DC has 10.0% walking to work, the second highest in the country after Boston. And at 37.7% DC is second highest in the % of commuters using public transport, after New York.

1. We have to have bike community rides like Arlington, but break it down to the neighborhood level. People don't feel comfortable riding, it might be true that people don't forget how to ride a bicycle, but doing it is something else.

2. I was thinking about this a few days ago, but at least in DC, you don't see bike racks at elementary schools...

Regarding the statement:

"I feel like more bikes are being sold now that cater to commuters - that's what I see when I go to the bike store."

I think it's important to recognize that what you see in the store and what people are actually buying are often two different things. While it is true that more shops and manufacturers are offering bikes ready-built for commuting, customers are not necessarily embracing those bikes. I work in a shop, and aside from the folders we sell, the "transportation bikes", as I like to call them, are a tough sell to most people. Even folks who want to commute have the perception that such bikes are heavy and klunky and not fun to ride. Something as simple and practical as real fenders seem to really turn people off, despite the fact that you tell them it increases the versatility of the bike.

I think the market for transportation bikes can grow, but it's going to be a slow path.

While trails are the idyllic riding environment they are much like the Metro-- Costly to build and they don't really go where you want to go. What we need are an extensive network of on-road bike lanes. Europe and some US cities have shown that when you build a safe infrastructure people will use it.

Re: "The racers and recreational cyclers in the USA have too much influence"

I didn't know there was a racing lobby! Influence? I don't think so. Most bike advocacy groups focus heavily on transportation cycling. Of course they support roads and paved trails used for recreation, but often for the transportation value.

Re: "Trails are... costly to build and they don't really go where you want to go."... That's true for some trails, but paths like the Capital Crescent are ideal because they're fast and direct and bridge major roadways. They're worth every penny.

Re: Commuter bikes.
I've long used a genuine crit bike for commuting and transportation. I wouldn't settle for anything slower. If you don't like backpacks, get one with mounts for a rack like I eventually did. It's not like you're carrying a tent and camping gear to work. For the record I also wear spandex.

Jack I have NO CAR ,live in DC, and for the record- I have never seen a racing bike that has the capacity to carry 10 bags of groceries plus 2 packs of beer [12 beers to each pack].Only a cargo- commuter bike has that kind of practicality. For me- as with MOST cyclists around the planet- speed is not important at all- just a good strong bike that is reliable.You suburbanoid racing jocks can have your silk tires and spandex- I just need a good tough cargo bike to get the job done..

It amazes me how "w" can't seem to say anything without throwing in some kind of nasty comment towards other cyclists. "suburbanoid racing jocks?" Huh?

In any case, thanks for sayin' what I was thinkin', Jack.

Yep, good point - big grocery trips aren't good with a racing frame. Even my mountain bike flexes terribly with that much weight. As for speed, distances in the suburbs are greater and we each have our own priorities :-)

I suppose you both do your real transport with cars.

Having made about 3,000 commutes over the past 21 years -- all on road racing bikes -- I was astonished to learn they are IMPRACTICAL.

You can stop your smug 'tude now, W., because I do all of my "real" transport with my bike, and it's the same bike I do races on. Every day of the year, rain or shine, that's how I get to and from work every day. You'd be amazed (apparently) how much stuff you could cram into a bike courier bag. I do co-own a car, but the only time I use it is when I head out long distances - and I mean distant - well beyond the suburbs.

I have ridden to work on a hybrid with a rack and panniers and my ligher road bike with a backpack and I prefer the latter. It took 20% less time to get to work and was more fun to ride.

I want to be clear that I'm not criticizing those who use road bikes to commute. Whether you use a road bike, mountain bike, unicycle ... whatever - it all has the same effect and you know what fits your needs best (I don't commute on a road bike because I have a bad back - yours is hopefully better). I was critizing the deduction they made that a drop in bike sales meant there was a corresponding drop in bike commuting. It's like saying a drop in shoe sales means fewer people are walking to work.

I get it, WashCycle. I'm reacting more to one of your regular commentators here. I'm with you, though - I don't really care what kind of bikes people commute on, and would encourage any kind of bicycle commuting. I don't believe any of them are any more superior then the other - its really a matter of what works for the individual. Long live the two-wheeled (or, in the case of unicycles, one wheeled) revolution!!

Actually, I think the data come from the Journey to Work survey that the census does. It asks this question:
"How did this person usually get to work last week?"
Many bike commuters are irregular, so this question does not come close to capturing the number of commute trips that are made by bike. Also, for seasonal cyclists, if they received the survey during the wrong season, they would be underrepresented.
http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/journey.html

Bike commuting rates in DC increased by over 60% between 1990 and 2000. That's hardly flat.

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