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    The family biking issue shows the need for a multipronged approach to normalizing bicycling. Access to info about options and tech for family biking is important, and Kidical Mass is a great example of how to expand this kind of social infrastructure from city to city. I’ve seen a considerable amount of awareness among KM folks (at least the ones I know from Seattle, PDX, Eugene, and DC) of their own limitations as a self-selecting subculture. For this reason, what I would love to see is support from an existing network like SRTS that could take the organic growth of the Kidical Mass model and make it into a solution for more communities. As lots of folks have commented here, the lack of connected infrastructure that gives ppl a sense of security is a continuing source of frustration, and that’s certainly an issue that the national bike orgs have been tackling for years. I think looking for other solutions to the root problem (vicious road culture) is something that will benefit all bike users. More solutions!


    Ryan G-S

    Very proud to see my hometown proposing this. Not only is this a great connection between downtown and campus, it connects two long-distance bike paths: the Kal-Haven trail west to South Haven, and the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail east towards (eventually) Battle Creek.

    This isn’t surprising coming from an MDOT that’s been quite progressive lately. They’re one of the first states to put up signs for U.S. Bicycle Routes, and they’re aggressively improving Chicago-Detroit passenger rail. All this under a Republican governor, too.


    Angie Schmitt

    Call an attorney.


    Randy Neufeld

    This discussion doesn’t need a gender filter or even a parent filter. The stats point to some human and cultural differences between men and women but the solutions are for all. One of the main reasons bike use is marginal in the U.S. is that people of both genders are risk adverse. Secure infrastructure is needed. Parents need to learn about child mobility and schlepping stuff by bike. And you don’t need kids to schlep. This is an area where the bike industry can help. Let’s get the product out there in front of people.


    Joe R.

    NYC could function just fine without taxicabs. Long term if we did things different we probably would need a lot fewer buses or delivery vehicles as well.

    There’s not anything necessarily wrong with allowing mechanically-powered vehicles, provided they’re not much heavier than a bike, and they can go no faster than maybe 25 to 30 mph. E-bikes are perfect example of a mechanically-powered vehicle ideally suited to big cities.


    Joe R.

    I personally feel traffic signals are biggest problem for cyclists in places like NYC, with potholes a close second. If you get rid of private automobiles, you get rid of traffic signals,. You also eventually radically reduce the number of potholes. At the same time you do all this the need for separate bike infrastructure radically decreases. It might still be needs on some busy streets with lots of delivery vehicles or buses, but in general most streets will need no special treatment to safely, efficiently accommodate bikes once personal autos are gone.



    The infrastructure in the US is the problem. I’m a childless woman, and I bike commute to work a few days a week. It’s an 18 mile trip one way, but there’s decent bike trails and lanes for almost the entire trip. But if I want to bike to the pharmacy that’s 3/4 of a mile from my house, there’s no bike rack to lock my bike to! Yeah, there’s probably a tree or something way out at the edge of the parking lot I could lock my bike to but it’s little annoyances like that that make biking something you REALLY have to commit to. And that’s why Americans drive even for the shortest trips. Because biking is something you do for fun and exercise, not a way to pick up a loaf of bread. And until we get better infrastructure, only ‘crazy’ people like me will cycle. I really wish city officials and business owners were forced to cycle around their cities and see how inconvenient and unsafe some areas are. That might make things change for the better a little faster.


    Eric Ganther

    The Koch Brothers frighten me.



    This is great except for one thing. Two-way cycletracks are quite inappropriate in areas with many junctions such as this downtown area. Much better to have a one-way cycletrack on each side. This both for safety and for safe access to destinations on both sides instead of only on one side of the road.



    I was hit by a car 2 days ago. I was at a traffic light at an intersection. I waited for the green light( little white man for pedestrians) so I could cross to the other side of the road. I still look every time I cross a street even when there is a traffic light because you never know if a car runs a red light or something. So I looked and it was clear. There were stopped cars at the red light waiting for the green light. I walked right in front of these cars and everything is still ok. As I pass these cars and I’m almost on the other side of the road a car out of nowhere hits me. The driver was an 18 year old girl who claimed not seeing me. (Yes, of course she was not paying attention because she was on her phone!)
    All the people that were in their cars waiting for the green light came to help me and they saw everything.
    I filed a report and spend the entire day at the hospital! I really want to sue her because it was her fault but I don’t know where to start. I have all of her information (insurance, car info, personal info). Any suggestions?



    Does “auto-free” mean free of all mechanically powered vehicles? Could New York function without taxicabs and buses? I follow events in San Francisco, even though I live near Pasadena, and see reports of pedestrians and cyclists being run over by Muni buses, refuse trucks, and construction vehicles. We could go back to the Los Angeles of 100 years ago, when one of the local newspapers had a crusade about the dangerous operating practices of the Pacific Electric Railway, and how the company allegedly had inexperienced crew members who were under pressure to keep to the schedule no matter who or what got in the way.



    One item that came up was “coordinated payments”. I’ve been told that in some countries (Switzerland comes to mind), passengers can buy a ticket from point A to point B that’s good on trains, buses and boats. In this country it seems like every transit entity is its own world, and getting (for example) LA Metro and Metrolink trains to have coordinated fare media is like pulling teeth. The San Francisco Bay area has similar uncoordinated “fiefdoms”. This is one of the great appeals of the private car–fill up the tank and (to borrow an old song) “go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do.” I was intrigued by the idea of minibuses that use dynamic routing programs to pick up passengers and get them to their respective destinations as efficiently as possible. This might work in area with well-connected street grids, but some suburbs seem to be designed to act like rat mazes, to make sure only residents can find their way around. I live about halfway down a dead-end street, and I can imagine waiting for a minibus, even if its route is generated by a sophisticated algorithm.


    International Comparisons

    I don’t have anything offhand to support or quantify this, but i’d say that the 3-6 story variety are more conductive to promoting that kind of community. I say this based on what i’ve found studying neighborhood densities in Venice (almost all 4 story buildings) and conversations with my brother who lives in a 7 story apartment building in East Village on Manhattan.



    I take it you haven’t been to Ann Arbor lately.


    Marven Norman

    That’s just the thing. All those little trips do add up and are frequently of a distance that provide little worthwhile difference in time to drive. Many more people likely would ride those distances or even the 10 miles to work if infrastructure were provided. That’s not uncommon for kids to do to get to high school in The NLs, so adults should have no problem. Also worth noting is that the Dutch network is optimized to allow a combination of biking and public transit to be seamless and easy. So even those unwilling to bike 10+ miles could easily bike a mile to the train, hop on board, then finish the last mile or two on foot, a bus, or a bike share bike.



    European cities not only have better infrastructure, they have have many aspects of urban design that make multiple small trips with and without children more amenable to biking. Shorter distances to stores, parks, and schools. Products and packaging design to be purchased in smaller quantities, etc. Safety considerations are also doubled up when some of your trips involve bringing the kids along. There’s many trips I would feel comfortable riding, but wouldn’t take my child along with me. I assume that would be even more true for women who tend to do more trips with kids in tow and may have higher concerns about safety to start with.

    But I think that Ralph and Huff are absolutely right generally that we have to look beyond simple street conditions to understand gender differences in cycling and other life choices. Our work, family care, and household responsibility expectations have many impacts throughout the ways we live our lives.



    How cool! Still, bikers will have to deal with clueless cell-phone-talking pedestrians, as shown in the image.



    That poppycock article can be dismissed with the gaping counterexample it failed to mention: New York City. Plenty of Big Apple moms do just fine without driving, and they do so because the infrastructure allows them.



    And as an aside, this pre-zoning, post-zoning change to auto-oriented development is also very visible in larger cities, like New York. Compare the development of Canarsie (post-zoning, very typical Euclidian code, endless blocks of residential) to nearby Flatlands (typical urbanist mixed uses along Church Ave, which had already been established as a commercial area when it was zoned that way).



    I would like to challenge the idea that widespread zoning came before widespread automobile use. While early zoning dates back to the 1920s, it was only adopted at first by very large cities. In many (possibly most) small towns, Euclidian zoning was not adopted at all until the 1960s or even 1970s. The walkable portions of the those towns were often built post-WWII, and with drivers in mind. (For an example, see portions of Havertown, PA built before and after the 1974 zoning code adoption.)

    If you exclude the planned developments like Columbia, MD (which are, in any case, a tiny miroirty of all development) any commercially zoned area developed after zoning’s adoption is almost always auto-oriented–by design!–because that is what any standard zoning codes requires. Virtually any truly mixed-use, walkable neighborhood in the country was built *prior* to zoning’s adoption in a given municipality, and then was zoned “commercial” after it had already become a commercial district. Any lingering dry-cleaner or shop in a residential neighborhood is almost always grandfathered in (typically, zoning allows for continued non-compliant use).



    So all the hipsters are going to move back to MI now, right?


    Andy B from Jersey

    MDOT has some cool people working for it. Don’t be surprised by this from them.

    NJDOT is also fairly progressive too even though the details of their designs for bikes often leave much to be desired. It’s the towns and county governments that usually stop or ruin cool projects they sponsor.


    Kevin Love

    Anyone who believes that typical Dutch families constitute some feminist paradise of gender equality has never spent much time in The Netherlands with those families.

    The key difference in The Netherlands is that for shopping, child and household trips, cycling is the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of safely travelling from A to B. That is 100% due to the superior infrastructure. So the typical harried and time-pressed Dutch mother makes those trips on a bicycle.

    The big bonus for women in The Netherlands comes when the child turns 8 years old and starts cycling independently to school and everywhere else. No more mommy chauffeur! I vividly remember my own mother’s response to such requests, “Are your legs broken?”

    And not just in The Netherlands. Take a look at this video of kindergarten children being picked up in Japan. No gender equality; 100% of the pick-up is by women, presumably their mothers. But 100% of the child transport is by bicycle. Also note how the guard enforcing the entrance to the car-free zone bows politely to each cyclist.


    Kevin Love

    No cars does not only mean no deaths. It also means no traffic signals and a lot easier to get around. Just take a look at the City of Toronto, which has North America’s largest urban car-free zone.

    I’m jealous. I want to live there! Or better yet, a car-free Island of Manhattan. The next meeting of Auto-Free New York is on Tuesday, October 21, 6-8pm, at the TA office at 127 West 26th Street. The meeting features David Gurin, a co-founder of Transportation Alternatives. For details, see:


    Andy B from Jersey

    I don’t know. You wouldn’t need ANY segregated infra if the roads were already safe to ride on. In my mom’s hometown of Bad Kissingen Germany, I’d say the majority of the people I saw riding were women. There was little in the way of segregated infra in downtown. What there was a lot of were roads with major traffic calming. I’d rather see towns make all bike infra obsolete because their downtown and residential streets have been made safe again for bikes, peds and cars.


    Chris Morfas

    To the store and back counts as two trips. Go out for lunch? That’s two trips. School? Dry cleaners? Girl Scouts meeting? Church? Etc…


    Andy B from Jersey

    OMG!!! Are you kidding me?!?! The patriarchy I observed in Germany with my own family even had my 84 German mother (60 year American resident) up in arms. Yes women have to schlep a lot with a car here in the US because you can’t do ANYTHING without a car in most places. In Germany I saw the women in my family still doing all sorts of things for the kids as the men just sat around. The difference there is that the kids could actually walk or ride a bike to school and “football” practice. Because of this the women had time to then ride there bikes alone to do the shopping, etc. while the men sat around reading the paper.

    I also think this is more of an issue than most other things. Read the first paragraph of Sarah Goodyear’s recent article and some of the comments related to that incident by some of the women.


    Greg Spencer

    Terrific contribution to the discussion of why cycling is so male dominated — northern Europe excepted. Male cyclists outnumber women in Budapest, where I live, but as the author observed, it’s really more of a life stage thing. Single women are biking all over Budapest — as the blog demonstrates. But some of my most environmentally conscientious friends broke down and got a car when they got kids — usually under pressure from their wives. Budapest is a nice, compact city and trip distances aren’t normally a barrier to cycling, but there’s no segregated infrastructure here, and when you’re with kids, you want that.



    “Either way, so few men ride in the US that gender parity would still not amount to all that many women riding.” Very true in one sense.

    Most people, male, female, or other, are not going to ride 10 miles each way to work everyday or any day. However, most people if provided good infrastructure, proper bikes, and the idea that bicycling is an option, will ride 3 or 4 miles round trip to school, a cafe for dinner, or the hardware store or pharmacy.



    I know what Kelcie and Ralph are suggesting, though the article also mentions that women in The Netherlands have to chauffeur children less because of the “high quality cycling infrastructure” that the kids can use themselves.

    However, lots of other research has shown that women feel less safe cycling on the roads in the US and are more risk averse than men. They also have a much larger subjective safety benefit from separated cycling infrastructure than men.

    Either way, so few men ride in the US that gender parity would still not amount to all that many women riding.


    Jonathan R

    Whether disproportionate household-serving travel burdens borne by women will continue depends on whether gender socialization norms begin to change more quickly or remain deeply embedded.

    Kelcie and Ralph, quoted above, suggest that gender socialization norms are to blame, not infrastructure.



    Yep. The difference between Malmö and the rest of Sweden, Münster
    and the rest of Germany and so on is the quality of the infrastructure. In The Netherlands this infrastructure is just nearly universal (even OUTSIDE of cities and suburbs).


    Herbie Huff

    Just consider that many people are unemployed, work part-time, are retired, or are too young to be in the workforce.



    Nice! I always wish you guys would talk about LA more. So much going on here right now but relatively little mention about it on your podcast.


    Jonathan R

    Norway has the same or better family friendly policies as Holland with regards to working hours, division of household labor, and mobility of the youth, but it’s not a cycling paradise.



    I do not understand how trips to work only account for 16% of trips. In a given week that would suggest that the average person makes 52 non-work related trips. (10 trips for work 16% -> 84/16 = 5.25 times more trips for non-work). That seems way out of whack to me, I don’t make 50 trips, I often don’t even make 5 trips outside of work in a given week. I can see for parents with kids that could be higher, but 50 seems ridiculous.



    Great article Tanya. It all mixes in together. Playing on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I do think that segregated infrastructure is the foundation and without it we’ll not see much movement. On top of that though is all of the stuff that you raised above and with it simply getting mindshare so that people; moms, dads, and grandparents, consider bicycles as a great alternative.

    Local trips will be key though. Not even many Dutch or Danes or Finns ride more than a few miles round-trip and gender doesn’t seem to play a role in this:


    R.A. Stewart

    Honestly, I was surprised Chicago even made the top five. It’s a commentary, really, on how truly abysmal transit is in the U.S. as a whole.



    “housework that doesn’t lend itself easily to two-wheeled transportation [in the US]” The article forgot to add that bit in brackets, which is critical in any comparison of the US and the Netherlands.

    In the Netherlands, women of child-rearing age make MORE trips by bike, not less, than their husbands precisely because they do those chores, which are much much easier to do by bike than in the US. As this article highlights, the Dutch have bikes that accommodate kids and cargo much easier than bikes readily available in the US. And their neighborhoods have cycletracks that make it much more convenient and safe for them to get to stores, schools, etc.

    A woman who does family errands racks up more bike trips per day than her husband who might only do two trips, to and from work. And the Dutch count trips, not work commutes. Data and discussion on Dutch women of child-rearing age bicycling here:



    Doesn’t this study just emphasize how lagging Chicago’s transportation infrastructure is? Below SF and LA?! really?



    I think this is a great study. It builds in transit frequency in a way that most studies don’t. I look at the maps and say the areas that are yellow or red are those with good transit service, the rest of the region doesn’t.

    Metropolitan area size matters and it doesn’t. As a worker/employee, you want to be able to access the most jobs in the least time. That’s the same whether you live in New York or Podunk. But you can use the numbers to calculate the percentage of jobs in a metro that are accessible within say, a half hour trip.

    A shorthand way of doing this is comparing a region’s weighted accessibility rank with its total employment rank. if the weighted accessibility rank is a higher number (worse) than its employment rank, the percentage of jobs accessible by transit is relatively low.

    For example, Indianapolis has a weighted accessibility rank of 38, but its 29th in total employment. That means a lower than average percentage of jobs are transit accessible in Indianapolis. By contrast, Milwaukee has a weighted accessibility rank of 12, but it’s only 35th in total employment. So a higher than average percentage of jobs are transit accessible in Milwaukee.

    San Jose surprised me too. Look at Table 3 in the report,, which shows accessibility rank by length of trip, for an explanation. San Jose has a lower score (15th) in jobs accessible with a 10 minute trip, which is basically a walk trip. It’s not that easy to walk places in San Jose. But for a 30 minute trip, San Jose is 13th, for a 60 minute trip it’s 8th. So transit in San Jose extends well out into those suburbs, which are not as spread out as Northeastern ones.



    This is consistent with my own analysis of the National Household Travel Survey. While Boomers share of trips on public transportation increased overall, their share of work trips on public transit decreased. This can largely be explained by the fact that as professionals remain in the workforce later in life they are much more likely to work part-time, take-advantage of flexible hours, and telecommute. Public transportation is often lacking outside peak commute hours. It often makes much more sense to drive. For more info see “Work Related Travel in an Era of Extended Employment” (AARP Public Policy Institute)



    Do you ever present an argument with support or just issue ridicule and platitudes?

    The ‘conclusion’ is that driving is being made unaffordable intentionally on a number of fronts. Some which are typically outside the scope of this site. However, if one is clever driving can still be rather cheap.

    First choose a reliable car model that is about 15-20 years old. Find a well kept low mileage example to buy. Due to the rentier insurance cartel economy cars are best. Learn how to maintain it and repair it yourself. This avoids the over priced licensed mechanics and their absurd parts mark up. Now with the internet there are instructions and help at one’s finger tips. You’ll be amazed how cheaply a car can be kept on the road without paying a $100/hr labor rates and high part markups. If you’re really cheap, find self service junkyards. It’s an adventure and you might meet some interesting people.

    But hey, what am I suggesting that here for, this isn’t exactly a crowd of people who learned to repair their own bicycles when they were 11 years old, but rather one that relies on over priced bike shops to tune derailleurs and other simple tasks that a kid should have taught himself by the age of 12. Nor is this a crowd that apparently wants to get their hands dirty or mingle with the lower classes, let alone go to the parts of town where junk yards are typically located. Exceptions don’t need to pipe up, I know you’re there, I am judging by articles and comments.

    So maybe you’re right, driving and practically everything else is unaffordable to people who are unwilling to develop their own skill sets to get through life. People who have to call in ‘professionals’ and pay them for every little thing. People who like being dependent and now they are by numerical age, adults, expect government to fill in that parental roll and provide them with what they want at the expense of someone else. Still want to use a bicycle as a toy, want to take the bus, and have “parents” pay for it all.



    Caltrans expressly forbids turning a general purpose lane into a diamond lane.

    How do I feel about it? I think San Francisco should be fighting that tooth and nail. In one weekend 280, 80, 101, and even the Bay Bridge could be modified to cary more people for the same number of cars. This would cost pocket change compared to any other congestion relief effort.

    Of course, it wouldn’t actually relieve congestion, but then no congestion relief effort does.


    Irwin Chen

    I understand the data is a little old which doesn’t include the HOT lanes in Los Angeles. I think the Silver Line and other BRT and Express buses on the 2 HOT corridors in LA carry more passengers than Denver’s HOT corridor and will easily be the highest transit-use HOT lanes in the country.



    At what size of building / neighborhood density do people in the building and neighborhood get to know each other? Where you see the same somewhat limited number of people going in and out each day and the same people on the sidewalks and in the local cafe?



    All of that to reach the incredulous conclusion that driving is affordable? You’re making me smile again, oooBoo.

    C’mon, man, surely you can do better than that.

    Affordable by what math?

    Don’t believe everything you see written in crayon, oooBooo.

    Transit, biking, and walking affordable? Absolutely. Driving one’s car? Nope.



    What all-day pass are you talking about? You can get the $12 one & take as many bus/subway/regional rail rides as you need, no limits.

    And the prices seem on par for me with other cities, though way cheaper than DC. This chart’s from 2010 so not quite up-to-date, but shows Philly as either average or on the low-end for most transit costs:,%20other%20transit%20fare%20comparison.pdf


    Jake Wegmann

    I think the key to the San Jose MSA is that it mostly lacks residential areas with extremely low densities. Unlike many southeastern metros, where vast suburban areas are made up of houses sitting on lots of an acre or larger, and where to walk from your driveway onto the local collector road (with a speed limit of 40 mph) is literally to take your life into your hands.



    The LA metro has twice as many jobs as the SF metro but it’s behind it. This is really about density and transit, not size.