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In Almost Every European Country, Bikes Are Outselling New Cars (npr.org)
358 points by antr 1513 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 298 comments

I'm not sure that this is of much significance.

In 2009, in the US, there were 14.9 million bicycles purchased [1] vs. just over 13 million passenger vehicles[2].

[1]: http://nbda.com/articles/industry-overview-2012-pg34.htm

[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_vehicles_in_the_Unite...

Unfortunately a huge number of those bikes are gathering dust in a garage. Europeans bike 188 km/yr vs 40 km/yr for the US [1]. It would be really interesting to see the rate of change.

[1] http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/jpah08.pdf

Lets raise the gas prices to EU levels and see what happens.

It would have little effect on bicycle use. Raising gas taxes is going to cost people who have longer commutes substantially more than people who live within reasonable biking distance. The average U.S. commute is around 32 miles round-trip, which would take close to 2 hours without traffic or traffic controls.

The response to higher gas taxes would have nothing to do with bikes. We'd buy cars with better fuel efficiency, explore alternative engines with lower costs-per-mile, and continue to pay the tax. Until the efficiency gains match the costs of the tax, the rest of the economy would suffer as most people would have less discretionary spending.

You HAVE to get to work, so you're going to eat the tax. And it's regressive, to boot.

Urban people in the U.S. complain a lot about the suburban nature of most of the country, but there is little that can be reasonably done eliminate the suburbs. Most people in this country simply prefer it, and will pay more for their transportation costs to get it. Raising taxes on these people is not going to change their behavior in any meaningful way. A few extra cents, or even an extra half dollar is gas taxes is going to be a lower cost to them than uprooting their life and moving within biking distance.

little that can be reasonably done eliminate the suburbs. Most people in this country simply prefer it

If people prefer it, why does the government have to mandate it by law?

Suburban zoning and -- even more importantly -- minimum parking requirements force property developers to build nothing but sprawl with isolated pods of single-use development. Wide, hostile roads are required (by law) to carry people between commercial, office, residential, and industrial sprawl zones.

If free markets were allowed to have any influence at all on land development, you would see at least some new urban style building. As it is, nothing but sprawl is permitted.

You have stated this more beautifully than anyone else here. This is why I left the US. Mile after mile of suburban hellscape, mandated by law, and full of lazy shits who are too dumb to even know there's another way of living.

What's so bad about these miles of "suburban hellscapes"? Why do you think the people who live in them are lazy?

Where'd you find heaven?

What developers want and what people buying from those developer want may not be the same thing.

> Raising taxes on these people is not going to change their behavior in any meaningful way. A few extra cents, or even an extra half dollar is gas taxes is going to be a lower cost to them than uprooting their life and moving within biking distance.

GP said EU levels, so it's not a few cents or "even" a half dollar. It's straight up doubling or tripling gas prices. This would no doubt impose a lot of hardship on people, and there might well be significant political upheaval in the process, but if you think it wouldn't change behavior and the suburban sprawl problem then you don't realize how inelastic people's income really is.

Breathing exhaust imposes hardship on me and everyone else, but no one seems to care about that.

I care about it, I'm a cycle commuter breathing more exhaust than average.

I regret I have but one upvote to give you, sir.

So we should encourage commute with bicycles.

> how inelastic people's income really is.

I think you mean "how inelastic the demand for gas is in the face of higher prices".

Of course people's income is fixed in this equation. Though I suppose you might try to earn more if gas prices go up.

What you're trying to say is that demand for gasoline is inelastic in the face of higher prices. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_elasticity_of_demand

And here's a bit on gasoline... http://economics.about.com/od/priceelasticityofdemand/a/gaso...

I am emphatically not trying to say that.

> the average U.S. commute is around 32 miles round-trip

That’s the same commute as I had during my time in high school. I did it on a bike, for 4 years, as did everyone else in my class. (I grew up in the Netherlands, where this is normal.)

> Raising gas taxes is going to cost people who have longer commutes

Which in turn will make people live closer to their work place and it will promote working from home. People might also start lobbying for more and better public transport.

There's also public transportation, I've lived in Portland and LA and on average it takes 2x-10x longer to get to where you want. I've always wondered, especially on light rail, why can't they just go faster?

Lots of reasons.

The net speed of transit is driven by stop frequency and dwell time. Remember, you simply cannot make up for the time you're not moving -- driving half your trip at 15 mph and half at 30 mph doesn't give you an average speed of 22.5 mph ((15+30)/2), but of 20 mph -- it's the total time for the trip, divided by distance.

Acceleration (and braking) of LRV has to be limited on account of standees, which generally means limiting top speeds. The fact that most LRVs travel on shared roadways (with private vehicles, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians) means they have to be prepared for sudden stops. Exclusive RoW can avoid this problem, but it's expensive: you've either got to block off surface access, elevate, or tunnel.

Tracked vehicles cannot pass one another without sidings. A consistent issue with LRVs is that if there's a breakdown, or even a delay, of an up-track vehicle, the effects ripple back through the route. Sidings (or switches) are expensive. Trolley buses (which receive power from overhead electrical wires) have similar limitations.

Any transfers you need to make will also add considerable time to your trip, and again, dwell or stationary time _cannot_ be made up by speed.

In crowded or dense urban areas, priority signaling for transit, and the lack of need to find and pay for parking, can cut some time off of trips, but that's fairly limited.

Transportation is still a trade off between convenience and price. I think a lot of the people not living within biking distance are probably also living in an area where public transport is a serious inconvenience compared to other options.

I live in the Cleveland area, and even living in the downtown area, I could imagine it being a legitimate sacrifice to live without a car. While the downtown area is growing in residence and support services, such as grocery stores, are being built downtown, it's still tough. Also, while some businesses are moving their offices downtown, other companies, especially large ones like Eaton, have moved their substantial downtown presence to the suburbs, so the problem is happening in both the residential and commercial side of real-estate. I'd have to imagine many small and mid-size cities suffer from this.

I just don't see a solution that is going to get people to cluster more, given our culture. I think the long-term solution is electric cars and the possibilities that shared, highly convenient, self-driven cars present. So instead of changing behaviors drastically, we use technology to make the required changes much smaller.

because of stopping. It takes more force to stop. Plus you would throw everyone and their stuff on the train around the process (they have no breaks for their forward acceleration).

You already feel a mild version of this in rush-hour on NYC subways. Your body will move slightly as the train breaks, often causing people to lose balance (particularly if they never experienced this previously)

Thus leading to the well-known sport of Subway Surfing.

Hah! I thought I was the only one who did that. So much fun.

I combine public transport with a bike, its about picking the moment when biking is faster than public transport. For me that is right when I get off the train. public transport time 1h 15m, combo time: 45mins. I know that by car it takes less than 1h 15 mins but more than 45 mins.

It would probably reduce the number of SUV's on the road, but not by a great number. In the Midwest, your SUV is your lifeline during Winter.

Also, the distances between cities in the US is far greater than what it is in EU nations like Germany or Italy. Plus the scenery is much better. Ever ridden across North Dakota?

An SUV is not necessary in the winter. There are winters in Europe. It isn't like they are all driving around in Dodge Durangos.

Hear hear; it's not like Volvo didn't make the 240 to drive in winter.

> An SUV is not necessary in the winter.

Assuming you live in Europe. It's different in the US.

I've climbed snow-covered mountain roads (more like trails really. unpaved roads in a state park) in upstate New York in a Honda Accord plenty of times (friend has a rather remote cabin...).

Some people do legitimately have a need for larger vehicles. The farmer I use to work for had 4 or 5 F-150s to be used on the farms (no way you are getting a regular car in and out of some of those waterlogged fields). Those were farm equipment, not something you use to drop off the kids at school. People who need vehicles like that to go grocery shopping are an extreme minority.

No, it isn't. There is absolutely no need to have a truck-based, tall monster of a vehicle in even the most serious of winter conditions in the United States. 1: places will close of road conditions are that bad. 2: a front wheel drive with good snow tires is plenty good. 3: if you're that scared of driving in the snow, a subaru impreza with snow tires is small and does quite well in the most extreme stuff.

Although I replied earlier that I've driven a small sports car through most of the last three or so winters, what you said is not always correct. There are many times that the snow is simply too deep for cars, even that Impreza. When you're high centered on snow, you're not going anywhere.

And I have never seen any of the roads around here closed, even when impassable by anything short of a snowmobile or a tractor.

I live in Canada, and you're not getting worse weather than here, and plenty of people don't drive an SUV.

I'm pretty sure "cold" and "snow" have very similar properties around the world.

You know, people in Japan drive little cars, and they get a bit of snow too:


1. That looks like a pedestrian path.

2. Wasn't that image on a Photoshop hoax site?

3. That path is perfectly clear. Try driving a car with 4" of clearance through 8" of snow. It can be done with very good snow tires, but not nearly as quickly as a vehicle with more clearance.

1. I have seen pictures of cars on the same road.

2. I do not believe so.

3. This is true. You have to clear the roads for people to use smaller cars.

People in wintery climates who want SUVs want them because the roads are frequently uncleared, or because they need to travel at night during a blizzard when the snow is piling high. If snow and ice removal operated 24/7, I agree that a smaller car would be just fine.

I drive my 350Z (2 door sports car) through most Minnesota winters and I live way out in the country on a dirt road. Have an SUV and a big pickup; most of the time they're not needed.

As people will surely pile on to tell you, the vast majority of trips taken are no more than a few miles.

If U.S. cities had proper cycling infrastructure, I would expect many more adults would use bikes for local travel. But as it is, driving is certainly more reasonable for many people when the alternative is biking on a shoulderless road with deadly vehicles passing inches away from you.

Completely agree and most cities are built with cars in mind first.

Lucky for me, I live near the most bike friendly city in the country - and it's not on the left hand coast. ;)


If it was feasible and I lived within 10 miles of where I work, I would for sure bike. Right now, I commute almost 20 minutes in my car, so biking to and from work just isn't a great idea. If I lived and worked in the city, I would for sure bike every day. Even if I worked in the city, I would utilize the light rail for the majority of my commute. It sucks I would still have to drive 10-15 minutes to get to the light rail though.

We can start with the federal fuel tax which hasn't been raised in 20 years.

Got any other great ideas that tax the working poor?

The tax could have a negative impact on the working poor, at least initially, but it's important to distinguish between short-term and long-term.

A historical example comes to mind: the collapse of the slave industry in the American South in the 1800s. (Please note that I'm referring to very specific aspects of the trade; I'm not by any means equating slavery with the energy sector, morally or otherwise.)

If you were to consider abolition from a short-term point of view, as many Americans did, it seemed like a terrible idea. It had catastrophic effects on millions of working, poor Americans. After all, it meant crippling the nation's single largest industry.

And yet, when we reflect on the American slave trade and its eventual decline, those hardships are trumped by greater moral and economic imperatives. The moral imperatives go without saying. The economic ones had to do with recognizing the true cost of labor and finding new opportunities, some of which were outside of agriculture.

Some moral and economic imperatives exist in our current conversation about restructuring the energy industry, which are only visible from a long-term perspective. For example, we're morally bound to address the long-term environmental impact and dangerousness of car travel (although, again, I'm not suggesting this moral imperative is equal to that of abolishing slavery). From an economic standpoint, we're also bound to recognize that our current methods of producing and consuming energy are unsustainable.

TL;DR: Sometimes radically restructuring an industry is the smart - and right - thing to do, despite the relatively short-term economic hardships that it causes.

It's possible to point out that a tax is regressive without being snarky.

You are correct, I just get annoyed at flippant comments about changing government policy that just happens to affect billions without thinking through the consequences.

Installing freeways and building roads with no sidewalks affects millions of people but nobody seems to care about that.

Uh, I do? Not sure what I'm being accused of. I like sidewalks.

Spend the fuel tax on a rebate given equally to every American. People can use it for gas money or, if they take the bus, to buy a sandwich.

This. Especially in cities, where car usage is a classic example of the tragedy of the commons. I personally would love to see the entirety of public transportation in major cities paid for by those who want to drive. Muni, BART, CalTrain, NYC Subway, etc. should all be funded via a tax on those who prefer to drive in a region where public transportation exists.


See, this is where I have to disagree - I think people who insist on driving their own cars should fund those who take public transport.

The government is trying to encourage public transportation - that puts less stress on roads and infrastructure, it causes less pollution and damage to the environment, and means roads are less congested.

Also, public transport is one of those funny things that actually gets better the more people use it.

Fares will go down, and you'd get more frequent services.

Replying to the comment from sejje:

It's called negative externalities - the free-market unfortunately doesn't account for all costs.

If I smoke a cigarette - I only pay for the cigarette - but it's those around me that also get sick from the second-hand smoke. That's why the government taxes them.

Likewise, if I buy a gas-guzzling SUV, which churns out black smoke to all my neighbours around - I only pay for the gas - but it's those around me that also suffer.

Basically, if we apply your logic, then we would live in a every-man-for-himself society, where we'd do whatever we could to get ahead, and not care about the impact on those around us.

Victor: that's not what he's suggesting. He's suggesting that an entirely separate party (drivers) pay for what others use (public trans).

Paying for what you use and a little extra to offset the negatives is still just paying for what you use.

Further, who pays for the roads the public transportation uses? I have a guess: drivers.

Why wouldn't you want to see it paid for by people who want to use public transportation?

I think people should pay for whatever they want to use.

The impact car emissions have on the working poor is far more costly and dangerous.

And I doubt raising the tax rate on fuel would do much at all, in America at least. Gas prices have gone up significantly over the last few decades and we drive more and more.


Can't reply because of HN time restrictions on long threads, but I think the reduction on driving is more due to cities and housing centers within cities getting denser - even Houston is doing that, and we've traditionally been very spread out. We still are, but it's improving.

Actually we drive less and less per person since ~2004. And the total Vehicular Miles Travelled has been the same since 2004, even though population is growing. This is a significant trend. http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/07/yet-more-ev...

That's not really true. During the gas price spike a couple years ago I do remember several articles that showed that we drove a lot less when the prices were higher.

Only were that money guaranteed--guaranteed!--to go into public transportation projects (light rail, trolleys, etc.).

Is the notoriously sprawling America cyclable? Distances in the centers of old european cities are small.

In most cities I've lived, not really. I grew up in Florida and cities were not made accessible to those without cars.

Cape Coral, for instance, is just a huge, sprawling (mostly-vacant) city. You could probably manage to situate yourself with most of the things you need nearby, but you would still find the vast majority of the city inaccessible without a long ride.

It would probably terrible for all kind of prices. Since transportation, delivery and many things depends of oil :D

The surest way to kill a proposal in the US is to say "This is how they do it in Europe".

That's it? A paltry 40km/yr? I think I put like 5000km on mine in the past year just by commuting daily.

This isn't too surprising to me. I'm not sure how average americans perceive the tradeoffs, but biking where I live is incredibly dangerous.

Your yearly commute in micromorts is 311 versus 12 by car.


You (and I) keep that average up at 40 by balancing out all the bikes that get 0 km/yr.

I do 15,000km per year here in Utah. Even 188km per annum seems like maybe you don't need a bike because you could just walk.

Not how averages work :) (Maybe everyone only used their bike for a yearly 188 km ride. Or one woman rode 10,000 km and the rest 10 km. Etc.).

But then I do often use my bike to go 50 m, since it's faster and I can carry stuff on it.

That actually seems like a reasonable difference considering that outside of cities biking is only a hobby (and sometimes quite a dangerous one depending on infrastructure). And in America many commuters drive for over 20 minutes.

> outside of cities biking is only a hobby

I know what you're saying, so I'm sorry for being a little pedantic, but I just have to jump in and point out that there are MANY bike commuters in suburban and rural areas. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana for two years and biked 3 miles into town every day. It was incredible for my health and the countryside is just gorgeous. In many ways it was vastly preferable to my various urban commutes since then.

You're right that the infrastructure is often lacking, but you learn the tricks you need to get your errands done, and there are many of us out there every day building the critical mass to change that.

I would say that nowadays, if you live 3 miles from "town", then you really are not living in suburbia. Most commuters live at distances far greater.

From the second result in Google: "The average commute in miles for Americans is 16 miles and 26 minutes for one way"


This seems to be the usual retort anytime someone dares and propose a change in the insanity that is car driving in America. It is as if god personally swept down, laid out cities and then continued to crush their public transport systems.

In reality of course, these commute times are all of your own making. Just because politics in the 20th century designed cities a particular way doesn't mean it is now forever set in stone in the 21th.

These commute times are not your own making they are based on your salary, your priorities in housing (neighborhood, safety, price), and your work location.

There are plenty of times when it is too expensive to live near work.

There are plenty of times when housing near work is low income or unsafe.

To be fair though, there's nothing particularly difficult or slow about a ~20km commute with a good public-transport infrastructure.

Until recently I lived about 20km away from my work, and my commute took about 25-30min: 10min walking and 15min on the train. I found this a very nice and relaxing commute; being on public-transport means you can read / browse the web / zone out, and indeed it's a valuable unwind time for me (the walking time is also hugely beneficial in this respect). [The same trip by car takes about 30min with no traffic, or an indeterminate amount of time in typical rush-hour traffic...]

I wish Calgary had better public transport. As a Calgarian, my commute is 20 minutes by car, 58 minutes by bike, or 75 minutes by public transit.

Calgary is just silly large and special. My commute to the university is 30 minutes in good traffic by car. Mass transit implies about one and a quarter hours on the ctrain and twenty minutes on a bus. Plus waiting time.

In all honesty Calgary is a hopeless city. Consider Tokyo: https://maps.google.ca/?ll=35.637209,139.744034&spn=0.502803...

Now compare it to Calgary: https://maps.google.ca/maps?ll=50.988692,-113.841705&spn=0.3...

Keep in mind Tokyo is only the center of that metro area. Tokyo itself is 13M people. The full metro area is 35M! Meanwhile calgary is a mere 1M!

Calgary is just not scaling. If we tried to fit 35M people in Calgary the city limits would start hitting the Rockies! Just as CPUs are hitting limits on the speed of light Calgary is hitting limits on safe highway speeds. Mass transit could be improved but it cannot shrink the city.

I used to cycle 15 miles or so each way to work a few years ago. That place did have a fitness center w/ showers on campus, so it worked out ok (except having to get up an extra couple hours early). My current job just moved into a new building with a small fitness room and showers, so I may try it again next summer (about the same distance).

The best part was actually looking forward to my commute -- even though I only cycled about once or twice a week. Now I'm so far out of shape, it will take a few months of working out in the gym to get back to what I was doing (and hopefully my knees won't go out again).

I lived here: https://www.google.com/maps/preview#!q=rolling+ridge+way%2C+...

You can make of that what you will. I would call it rural.

I would not call that rural at all -- it's within the city limits.

The thing with Bloomington is that it's very bike friendly compared to most cities of similar size and there is a substantial cyclist population considering half of the town consists of students that have nowhere to park their cars.

Your average noncollege town isn't like Bloomington.

The numbers in the US are certainly dominated by people who don't bike. I imagine that's true in Europe also.

(40 km is not a particularly long ride for a recreational biker...)

Right, even the European average of 188km isn't very much, half a kilometer per day annually). Between commuting and running errands, I am riding about 500km per month (Portland, OR).

Thanks for the link. I skimmed through the article and found this bit of unit conversion amusing: "... compared with 40 km (87 miles) per year in the United States ..."

That's a shockingly low number of miles ridden per year. I will no longer think of myself as an underachiever on Strava :)

40km != 87 miles, as you note. This appears to be a transcription error in the article from an earlier 140km, and it should read 25 miles per year.

(at least, if the graph is correct)

I think they were using the kg to pounds factor!

those stats made me look up the distance I've ridden to date http://cl.ly/image/2u2r2a0T0X3s . I'd say 70% has been commuting and 30% other. i'm in Europe.

My immediate reaction to the headline was a search for U.S. statistics.

Apparently "In Almost Every European Country, Bikes Are Outselling New Cars, Just as Usual in the United States" was too long for a headline.

It may be true in the US, it it hasn't always been true in some southern European countries. Spain has always been pretty hostile to bikes, but that seems to have changed.

The difference between northern and southern Europe, or between different countries in Europe, can be pretty big at times. Netherland has had more bikes than people for as long as I can remember. In Spain, the few rare bikers would tend to get killed by cars.

Yeah that's true. Something cheaper should outsell something more expensive.

Apparently not always. With this logic, free software should have 100% of market share.

Edit (in response to jgreen10)

>Are you suggesting no one has a car?

No, I am suggesting that the logic "cheaper stuff outsell more expensive stuff" is wrong.

Outselling doesn't mean the competition/alternative doesn't have any usage at all.

That's a little tricky because, from the point of view of an average consumer, Windows is free as well. The other big ones, like Office and Photoshop just don't quite have an equivalent free alternative, for better or worse.

LibreOffice and Gimp? They are great. *edit to reply to further down: GIMP opens psd files and LibreOffice opens doc files, you can definitely work with people using Office or Photoshop.

They're great if you don't care about your user experience.

Getting OT here, but the thing that kills me about Gimp is how badly it doesn't want to save the file in its original format. You have to export it (totally different menu option) and then it will whine when you close the file because it thinks you haven't saved it.

The thing almost every user expects it that saving the file just saves over the old file in the format it was originally in. IIRC, it used to work that way, and then one day it changed for the worse.

That's a recent change, and yeah, one of the worst examples lately of open source developers' contempt for their users. Apparently, those of us who've used Gimp for over a decade to edit .jpg and .png files and save them back to .jpg or .png, were Doing It Wrong, and the devs wanted us to know. :(

Mind you, I've never contributed the tiniest bit of code or funding to Gimp, so I can't really complain.

> one of the worst examples lately of open source developers' contempt for their users.

That's utterly silly. If you take yourself seriously as a graphics editing program, then inevitably you have to move to one format that you can then convert into others. Otherwise you have to implement every single operation on every single file format you support. With the One True Format, (.otf) you can convert your .jpgs to the .otf and then do the operation there.

This then presents a problem. Tech-savvy users know that there will be a loss of data when you save to a consumption format. But the rest of us don't. If you allowed open and save in the same format, people will make the intuitive leap, that they're actually editing the files in that format, when they're not. They'll think all the layers they made will carry over into the PNG and that they'll be there when they re-open the file, when in fact they won't.

It would be a nightmare, because nobody will know what will save and what won't. You'd have to then educate users that to get everything to save properly, you have to save to .otf. Or you could just bake that logic directly into the app.

I think the way to do that--and the way I've seen it done in other contexts--is to detect what features can't be saved in the original format and warn the user about about it (with an "I don't care about this" checkbox). I think Word does that when you make a bunch of changes to a document in an older format and are saving it back.

I know users don't read, etc, but the trade you're making is that the simple process of editing a file and saving it is now much more annoying. I just want to make changes to my PNG, not deal with the One True anything.

Yeah, well I want flying cars, but the physics just doesn't make it practical. Neither is what you're talking about. Just take the extra steps and be glad you're not paying for Photoshop.

It's perfectly practical. GIMP did exactly that for years. The 2.8 release notes[1] mention removing the warning now that save and export are separate.

The stated goal was to make it harder (still? I guess people clicked through the warning without reading) to accidentally save in .png or .jpg and lose the layers. But the result, for someone whose usual workflow is to open a .png/.jpg, edit, and save back to .png/.jpg, could not be more user-hostile and obnoxious.

In response to a complaint, someone on the forums wrote[2]:

> This is the way Gimp now works. Of course you can consider this a PITA. But for other folks, losing work because they saved as JPG instead of XCF is also a PITA. The philosophy is that people that are impacted negatively by this change are people with very simple work-flows who would be better off using simpler software (XnView, Digikam, Lighttable...)

In other words, all of you people with simple workflows, that worked just fine in Gimp for years? Now you have to go off and learn some new software, because Gimp is for Serious Graphic Design™ only. Ugh.

I got excited researching this because I found a changelog for Gimp 2.8.4 that mentions patching the behavior to be sane[3], but then I realized that's only a patch in the unofficial OS X build. On Linux, the same nonsense in the latest version.

1. http://www.gimp.org/release-notes/gimp-2.8.html

2. http://registry.gimp.org/node/26273

3. http://gimp.lisanet.de/Website/News/Eintrage/2013/3/21_GIMP_...

The existence of several counterexamples of it done would seem to disagree with your point about it being "impractical". Paint.NET warns it'll have to flatten layers when saving as PNG, Notepad will warn if you try to save Unicode-laden text to an ANSI .txt... not to mention several blanket warning systems...

Yes, this behavior would be equivalent to "flying cars". Yeesh, how ridiculous. I'd happily pay for photoshop. It's a better program and easier to use.

It's not "utterly silly". At least hear and respect the opposing view rather than dismissing it. Least surprise is one of the core principles of usability.

Every program I use saves to the original format by default, most warning you if there will be data loss. Whether you like it or not, this is how software works and how users expect it to work. If you want to automatically backup a different format that's fine.

Regular users still don't understand why GIMP complains, only know it's hard to do what they need to do anyway.

GIMP should have option "also save as native format in image repository" that is on by default, if the developers care so much about the conversion losses.

I can accept the choice.

If you want to save the full format of the file, including layers and whatever other GIMP magic you've created, you'd best save it in GIMP-native format.

If you're just doing some quick tweaks, you'll get used to the export option and ignore the prompt to save on quit.

Since most of what I do are quick edits of screenshots, the latter works fine for me. If I were a graphic artist, I'd probably get more than slightly peeved if my afternoon's work were lost due to an incompatible file format save w/o prompt.

Not prompting the user leads to massive loss of user work and state. Prompting the user is a minimal overhead to avoid this risk.

Considering it's a relatively recent change, it certainly has come as a suprise to lot of users. Did to me. Did to my wife. Bit at least a couple of friends I know.

From a technical point of view I can certainly approve the change. Back in my time I've had couple of my images ruined by badly timed save (user error [tm]), so the non-destructive approach certainly has its merits. However, the new behaviour breaks a lot of ingrained casual use flows. So maybe the best approach would for Gimp to remember the original filename when it's opened and if the filetype is anything except XCF, simply do two saves: create a new $filename.xcf automatically with all the changes the user has made, and also auto-export with the old name.

That way the more casual users could still just do "open, edit, save" for their quick edits. As a bonus, since the XCF file is non-destructive, the original file would still be in there. This might give the best of both worlds: it wouldn't break existing workflows, and it would automatically prevent accidentally changing the original image. Plus it would make the save/export split less of a headache for new users.

Just an idea.

Photoshop does that as well, Illustrator is especially bad for it. There are specific reasons for it, that you don't want to save a file and realise you've lost all your layers because it was saved as a jpg.

I have the gimp, and I find a lot of very important details are missing from files I receive that were made in photoshop.

It's virtually every time; I just request JPG exports to go along with the PSD, because otherwise I won't know it's missing.

You can ask adobe to lift their user lockin policy

If you're a casual user, sure. If you're serious, the lack of adjustment layers alone will cause you to rip your hair out. Gimp is fine for Joe Bloggs making a banner for their site; but honestly it's pretty mediocre, with a horrid interface and missing functionality.

(To be fair, some of that last bit is due to Adobe patents)

Unless you intend to work with people using MS Office or Photoshop, that is.

Well, that actually a very important point. Clearly adoption of free software is much lower than one could expect. What I mean is: you can argue that Gimp is not as good as PhotoShop, LibreOffice not as good as Office, or that Linux is not as good as Windows (which is clearly debatable) but they are good enough and they are all infinitely cheaper (literally) than their paying alternative. So that should be default choice for 99% of people. But it isn't.

So my point is: The same goes for cars vs. bikes. Most people wouldn't mind using a bike to go to work, but it feels weird to pay only a couple of bucks for a bike, when you've learn that the price to go to work is the price for a car.

I was more referring to compatibility, here. LibreOffice is infamous (at least around here) for mangling table formatting used in Word docs. Gimp is hardly feature complete compared to photoshop.

The reasons for this could probably be rightly chalked up to obfuscation and other below-board shenanigans on the part of certain companies, but the end result is still that you don't use the FOSS version if you're serious.


>I was more referring to compatibility, here.I was more referring to compatibility, here.

Yeah I know, but I got carried away :)

These two programs are simply awful compared to their counterparts in the closed source world. I happily pay not to use them.

yeah, sure! just take a 154 layer gold broker layout psd and try to open it with GIMP.

i mean, really, i love GIMP, but, it'll take some time ...

Are you suggesting no one has a car?

Anyway, Android (Linux) dominates the mobile space, and Linux dominates the server and a lot of the embedded space. So yes, cheap stuff outsells expensive stuff.

Are Android phones actually cheaper than their proprietary counterparts?

Oh yes, the majority of androids sold are the cheap, no name variety. Not a lot are buying s4 or htc one.

Nokia still sells loads of cheap phones that come with a proprietary OS.

Actually the comparisson would be that there are more free software than patented software installed.

And I think it is an interesting question, someone knows some statistics regarding that?

Cars and bikes aren't entirely complementary goods.

"In US and Most of Europe, Bikes Outselling New Cars"

Forget Europe, Bikes are outselling Cars in Asia too.

Was there a point in time when cars was outselling bikes in Asia?

The claim here is that in almost every European state bikes are outselling cars. I don't think this is the case in the US as the stats you provide show figure that are quite close collectively which suggests to me some variance among individual figures in a state versus state analysis.

But that is such a meaningless distinction given that state borders are so arbitrary. It wouldn't be hard for any of us to re-draw the arbitrary state borders in the United States to come up with a situation where bikes outsell cars in every state. And we could redraw borders in Europe to create almost as many states as we want where cars outsell bikes.

Something like the EU as a whole vs. the US as a whole has a lot more meaning, IMO.

Well, I bought one bike and zero cars today.

I was just thinking, “A family of four can share a van, but it would be awfully hard to get them all on one bicycle…”

Something that you can buy for 300 Euro outsells something else that costs 30,000 Euro. The two things can be roughly used for the same purpose.

I would not be surprised to hear that more paper and pens are sold in Europe than computers.

In Europe there are many cars for less than 500 euros. Even new ones are something around 6k euros. Those of course aren't sedans like but they're still cars.

In Barcelona we're suffering a process of making the whole city available for bikes and its one of the most wonderful things you can see. Almost everyone uses bikes to go work. It's healthy, it's confortable, and you don't need to pay taxes or insurance. I think it's a brainless option.

BTW: I forgot to mention my city runs a public bycicle program since 8 years and it's a total success. For 40€/year you get full access to a bicycle to move around the city without restrictions. I think it was the smartest move the city did.

I don't think you can pass a technical inspection with a 500€ car. At least not in Germany. Here the only cars you get for that price are obviously broken cars (accident, missing major parts, etc.) or cars that did not pass the inspection.

A Ford Fiesta 92 is around 500 euros in Spain. I don't know how is it in Germany, but here at Spain you even can get cars for 1000 wich are pretty decent and pass the inspection.


How often you buy a vehicle, be it a bike or a car is not that much to do with the price of it, but is more to do with how much space you have and how well the current one works, or whether you are bored of it.

Besides, you cannot accidentally spend £30 to fill up a small drawer unit with bikes, cars or computers, which you can do quite easily with paper and pens, I have found.

Also, the prices are not quite as you present. Some people with not much money manage to buy old cars that cost £100 and some people with a lot of money buy new pushbikes that cost over £5000.

But you can have a bike and a car, like you can have a computer and pens. Sometimes you can use a car, sometimes a bike.

The article doesn't address these statistics. Or kid bikes. Also not seeing motorbikes, which seem quite popular in Europe.

I'm surprised that bike sales are that far off from car sales anyway. Expected most people that grow old enough to ride to buy one.

Very informative otherwise.

>Also not seeing motorbikes, which seem quite popular in Europe.

Yes, mopeds are very, very, popular in Italy.

I don't understand your point as it hasn't been the case for +60 years.

what hasn't been the case? that more sheets of paper and more pencils have been sold than computers? I'm almost certain this is the case, even in the gadget-awash United States.

The article talks about bikes outselling cars. Hence I'm referring to bikes outselling cars. I'll be happy to talk about "paper and more pencils have been sold than computers" on Reddit, but not on HN.

what hasn't been the case was bikes outselling cars. It hasn't happened. And not it is. Seems significant.

> what hasn't been the case was bikes outselling cars. It hasn't happened.

Are you kidding me? Of course it happened! How many cars do you think were sold in 1900?

The statement we're talking about is "... it hasn't been the case for 60+ years". 1900 was 113 years ago.

I think he means the bikes outselling cars part

It's significant when you look at the numbers of people who commute on their bike daily rather than their car. In Copenhagen something like 50% of adults ride their bike to work. I'm sure it's the same in e.g. the Netherlands.

There is a 180% tax on cars in Denmark which is a pretty major disincentive for driving a vehicle. I have a friend who bought a used VW Passat wagon (5 or 6 years old) in Denmark for $90,000 USD.

Having cycled Copenhagen, I have to say it's wonderful. Everyone is on bikes all the time, and the city always prioritizes bicycles over other vehicles. I'd love for the same to be true in Palo Alto, but realistically a high vehicle tax would have to be done at a state level. The problem is that California is so diverse, that there is no way a farmer in Fresno or Bakersfield is going to be able to handle a large auto tax.

The only way we're going to be able to get people out of cars here in the Bay Area is to increase spending on cycling infrastructure, as well as transit. Thankfully with cycling infrastructure, many cities, including Palo Alto, are finally getting serious about making more bicycle boulevards and bike lanes. For a long time cities in the Bay Area have either just payed lip service to the idea, or have been mired in red tape so that they couldn't roll out new cycling infrastructure without an environmental review.

On the transit front, I'm not so optimistic. There's just such a quagmire of competing transit services in the region, that it's impossible to get any kind of a cohesive system together. Either you have a central authority which dictates the entire route map which will tend to neglect various regions, or you get what we have now which is hyper-localized transit authorities which don't service the needs of the region very well. As a result, companies just implement their own systems (ala Google, Facebook, Apple, Box, etc.) which are exclusionary and have become icons of gentrification.

There is a 180% tax on cars in Denmark which is a pretty major disincentive for driving a vehicle.

True, but Danes buy cars nonetheless (especially if they have kids). It's fairly typical to only have one car per family, though.

I have a friend who bought a used VW Passat wagon (5 or 6 years old) in Denmark for $90,000 USD.

A used Passat from 2008 will cost you roughly $30,000 USD [1]. Expensive, I know, but nowhere near $90,000.

1) http://www.bilbasen.dk/brugt/bil?Category=P&PriceFrom=0&Pric...

Did you read the article?

I read the article and think that he/she makes a good point. The point this person is trying to hit is: does this imply that more people do not like the style of older bicycles or that people are making lifestyle changes to ride bikes instead of driving cars or that the economy is not the greatest and people are getting bikes because of it? The article compares 2 markets (bikes and cars) where it doesn't fully reflect the market (only shows new cars/bikes). The full market is probably quite a bit harder to get data for (and that's probably why they don't show it) but it would really give a much better indication of what is happening.

I almost feel like this article is misleading because bicycle production is much higher than automotive production. See the following link under "Bicycle vs. car production"


> Something that you can buy for 300 Euro

And repair yourself when something goes wrong.

I have a car, it works well. I haven't taken it to go to work since end of may. I don't plan on buying a new one until this one dies of old age, hopefully in a decade or so.

Basic car maintenance falls under responsible ownership.

I'm a cyclist, but I know how to fix the common things on my vehicle.

I'm sure there are people that own bikes that are clueless in fixing them, much the same as there are people that own cars that haven't a clue. That doesn't mean there aren't people out there that could strip and rebuild either on their own.

Totally agree. I think this is a case of scrambling for headline before press date. There is nothing here but common sense.

This is only tangentially related to the article, but I'd like to say one of the reasons why bikes aren't more popular in many American cities is because the road systems give no thought to bikes at all. I vacationed to the bay area recently, where bikes seem comparatively more popular, and noted the difference in roads between there and where I live. It wasn't so much that the bay area was good for bikes, but just kept them in mind. When there wasn't a bike path, there was a paved shoulder. When there wasn't a paved shoulder, there were signs and markings to help bikes and cars share the road.

Where I live, it approaches dangerous to bike on the road. When a road has a speed limit of 45 mph, turns, and no shoulder at all, it's difficult to bike. This is not in a rural area.

I live, and bike commute year round, in a bike-friendly city (Portland, OR). I don't attribute my pleasant ride to bike infrastructure but rather to the work the city did in the late 60's to fight urban sprawl with a thing called the "urban growth boundary." It stopped farmland around the city from being turned into subdivisions which forced people to fill in and maintain the older neighborhoods close to downtown. My 5 mile commute to downtown is through quiet, nice neighborhood streets, no special bike infrastructure needed.

Note that Portland is investing in bike infrastructure now, and it makes certain crossings easier, but I think the bikers came first, not the infrastructure.

The evidence clearly indicates that bike ridership follows continuous bike infrastructure. When a city builds more and better bike lanes - especially protected cycle tracks and neighbourhood greenways - the rate of cycling shoots up.

I'd imagine it also has a lot to do with climate. Where I live is too hot and humid to bike most months out of the year without having to take a shower when I get where I was going. Not really practical.



Keep in mind that I have a 15 mile ride to work, and no, moving is not an option.

I don't buy that at all. I think you are making excuses. Life was feasible before air conditioned automobiles.

If you shower before you ride then you have twelve hours or so head start on bacteria - it takes them that long to multiply, excrete and cause a stink. So even if you are glistening with sweat at work then you can change your clothes, wash your hands and face, sit at desk, work, no smell needed. If you do stink then maybe it is because you lack fitness and basic hygiene, which is nothing to do with there not being a shower at work.

When was the last time anyone washed a seat in a car? Never! A car seat is one of the most disgusting places to sit. Would you not change the sheets on your bed for years? No. Yet sit in the same seat in a car, year after year, with a greenhouse around it, sucking in carbon monoxide from the tailpipe in front - no idea why people think that is hygienic.

You need to get practical!

Hah, right. I'll gloss over the number of assumptions about me that you make and we'll just address the real crux of the issue.

Biking 15 miles to work is not practical in 100+ degree weather with humidity averaging between 60 and 90 percent. Moving to be within biking distance of work is not practical when jobs change every few years and there are two of us living in the house which is fairly central to both workplaces.

And I wash the interior of my car yearly - your phobia about 'dirty car seats' is fairly silly.

Not only is that not practical, it's not safe or healthy. People die of heat exhaustion sitting in their houses when air conditioners fail or power goes out.

I'm curious. Isn't the breeze you get when biking enough to cool you down? I live in Denmark and we don't often have that kind of weather, but the breeze that you get when riding your bicycle can be really nice in the summer.

I've only experienced Dallas summer heat, but no the breeze doesn't help. I would leave work and it would be ~105 F (40.56 C). I'd get in my car and roll down the windows until the A/C started working. The air that came in while driving would feel like the same temperature as the air in the car, like a hair dryer or something. It was like an omnipresent inescapable oven. Imagining THAT with 80% humidity sounds unbearable.

When you're riding in the kind of humidity they get in Houston, a 100 degree breeze will heat you up instead of cooling you down.

>>You need to get practical!

I'd say trying to not die from heat exhaustion or stroke while riding uphill on a bike in 100+ degree weather is practical.

I'm going to assume that's 100 degrees fahrenheit, right?

That's around 37 degrees celcius for us non-US people =).

I'm from Sydney, and we often have low 40's (Celcius) during summer. We currently have raging bushfires over here in some areas =(, and it's easily 40 degrees.

I bike to work (and also for fun on weekends) during that sort of temperatures, and I've never been worse for wear...

I also jog regularly during that weather (although I find that harder than biking - less breeze).

Mate - you're not going to get heat stroke from riding your bike a few Km at 37 degrees, seriously...

As your fitness improves, you'll probably find it easier.

Just stay hydrated (you do carry water, right?), apply sunscreen, and you'll be fine. Sure, it's harder work than driving a car, but exercise is hard work (despite what those late-night TV ads tell you).

Yes, you are right. I live in Houston and I bike for 12 miles round trip almost through out the year except when it is cold and windy. And if you are commuting for work, you are not going to face the peak heat in the middle of the day during summer. But the roads are not completely bike friendly in here and there is problem of stray dogs.

I'm not exactly disagreeing with you, but humidity makes a HUGE difference. I've been in 100+ degree heat with low humidity (115, actually (46.11 C)) and it's downright pleasant. I've also been in 100+ degree heat with high humidity and it's almost unbearable. The difference is, in low humidity your body does a fantastic job of cooling yourself, while high humidity prevents your body from dissipating as much heat since your sweat doesn't evaporate. I'm not saying you're wrong, but temperature does not describe the entirety of a climate, nor its safety.

First you call this guy out then make the declaration that people don't wash car seats because obviously you do not. I have the interior of my car washed thoroughly no less than twice a month and my commute is only like 4 miles round trip so it is always thoroughly clean. Stop making assumptions based on your own warped view of reality.

With a higher level of fitness you sweat less. Cycling at lower speeds is easier than walking and and at higher speeds produces it's own wind.

> Where I live is too hot and humid to bike most months out of the year

That's such a defeatist statement, "too hot and humid to bike most months". I have a lot of faith in you. You could probably think of a way! It's not literally impossible! Maybe you could ride in the morning, before or just after sunrise. Maybe you could ride in a set of clothes, wipe yourself down in the bathroom, and then change into a fresh outfit to work in. You should try those things and three other strategies that you think of and then maybe I'll accept that statement "it's hard to bike during the summer".

There's so much misinformation about cycling going on in this thread.

There really needs to be better education regarding commuting via bike.

"I sweat too much" = you're likely out of shape. "The weather is too inclimate" = wear appropriate clothing. "I live too far away" = 15 miles in an hour is very reasonable.

Minnesota has heat indexes in the summer similar to the Middle East, in the winter we can get windchills <= -20F, yet Minneapolis is one of the best cities for cycling in the United States.

I'm not out of shape, and I sweat "too much," as in by the time I finished an hour of bike-riding in sunny FL, there would be no part of my clothing that was not wet. (I'm not exaggerating, and I have spent a lot of time on my bike in FL). This has been true for my entire life, including as a teenage boy who spent an average of maybe six hours per day playing basketball...certainly in shape. I read once that some percentage of people naturally sweat excessively compared to others. I feel very certain I'm in that percentage.

What is appropriate clothing for my example? I'd guess most appropriate would be naked, though I'd still be drenched. There is no clothing that can fix this.

I love riding bikes, but it has never been a feasible solution for my transportation to work, given that I don't want to arrive looking and feeling disgusting, drenched in sweat. I could handle your cold, though. Perhaps you've never experienced extreme humidity coupled with high-90s.

That would be a bummer.

You could still find a place close by where you could rinse off and clean up quick before heading into the office.

There are an innumerable number of ways you could make it work if you actually wanted to.

I can respect that it's far more inconvenient for you than it is others, and that may be enough of a hurdle to just never make it worthwhile.

As far as the humidity and high 90s, the Land of 10,000 Lakes gets our share of shitty weather. It takes a real commitment to continue through it.

Replying to sejje.

Ok, so you sweat a lot =). That's alright, we're all different.

However, I'm a bit confused here - you're claiming you do cycle a lot - but you don't like cycling?

I have to agree with scarlson - most people who live less than say, 35 km (21 miles) could easily bike to work, if they wanted. With a reasonably level of fitness, you could do such a ride in under an hour.

Is it work - absolutely. But come on, you save money, you get to see the outdoors, and you get exercise.

Beyond 35 km, yeah, I'd probably think twice, if it was every day. However, I know of people who bike from Penrith to Sydney CBD here, a distance of around 56 km (35 miles) - each way.

And by appropriate clothing - I think he means bike clothes (i.e. lycra). Sure, you can't wear it around the office - but I just get changed in our bathrooms at work.

That's a common cop-out. It's too hot, it's too cold, it's too windy, it's too hilly, etc., ad nauseam. The evidence tells a different story: where high quality, continuous bike infrastructure exists, you have a high rate of cycling regardless of climate, geography, demographics or whatever.

Imagine if more workplaces had a small shower stall one could use after commuting in? Or a bike locker area with secure parking?

I have the luxury of being not only 2.5 miles from my workplace (I ride in daily), but I can bring my carbon fiber race bike into my office and lean it against my desk. I am very lucky.

I've gotten very good at doing a mild cleanup upon arrival at the office if I go for a longer training ride before work: a damp washcloth, reapplication of deodorant, and I'm usually good. I do shower and shave before leaving my house, though, so I am starting things off fresh.

That's true, but Minneapolis, at the opposite end of the climate spectrum, is one of the most bike-friendly places, and bicycle commuting remains strong through the winter.

I would rather bike in cold than subtropical heat, personally.

Our summer heat indexes get up to 130F, people still bike here.

Heat indexes in Houston regularly get above 130F in the summer. Sometimes up into the 160s. Check out http://www.srh.weather.gov/jetstream/downloads/heatindex_rh_... and keep in mind that Houston will be 90-100F in the summer with 60-90% humidity.

That's not to say you can't bike for significant parts of the year, but there are definitely days where it wouldn't just be uncomfortable, it would be unsafe, to bike to work in Texas. Add to that that certain cities, like Austin, are also fairly hilly.

I get that there's likely going to be days where it's plain unsafe to bike.

That shouldn't restrict you from ever biking though, as seems to be the excuse some people are using.

but this one day, or one week, or maybe perhaps two weeks of not being able to bike means I should never ever touch a bike! Not to start about hills... but boy those hills sure are a challenge. Men are made to be going uphill in car, not on bike. I also live in a place where there are no downhills just uphills no matter where you go. -- Sorry! but I had the urge to use large amounts of sarcasm just to make a small point, there are people -not necessary lazy- that don't want to change their easy comfy ride into a bike ride.

As you said "continuous" is important. I'm looking at you, Palo Alto, with your protected bike lane that goes one block and ends at an intersection with two one-way streets.

You're right - I use the word "continuous" advisedly. No one would drive on a road that didn't connect to other roads.

Is this something you have concluded on your own from the evidence, or is there some article you can cite that summarizes the evidence for this?

I don't bike in Los Angeles because I have a family to provide for and I don't think it is safe at all. I do live close to work and I walk to work, because I like to keep a small footprint from both an economic (my expenditures) and environmental perspective; but my work is moving for the 2nd time in 8 years and it is not convenient to move house to follow it.

I do wish I could bike to work but I just don't feel safe. If there was a bike lane all the way to work, I'd feel safe enough to bike it.

Biking is a safe activity –– very safe in fact. Good route selection is a big part of making it part of one's lifestyle.

Sometimes it's nice to have some strength in numbers; can you commute in with a coworker?

"In 2011, an estimated 48,000 pedalcyclists were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Sixteen percent (or an estimated 8,000) of the pedalcyclists who were injured were age 14 and younger."

677 bicycle deaths vs 230 deaths for those walking. Interestingly many more pedestrians were injured than pedalcyclists injured in that same time period.

source: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811767.pdf

To say that it's safe on average is not the same thing as saying it's safe in Los Angeles. Biking is not safe in most of Los Angeles.

It's not as safe as driving.


If I was willing to risk biking to work, going with a buddy would be nicer. I just don't like the risk of body versus car.

If there were dedicated bike lanes going to work, I'd be in them.

As it is, I walk or take my car.

Where do you work? I live in LA and bike to work every day, but I live 3 miles away from work in Santa Monica.

I would never consider biking downtown, at least not yet.

I live and work in Burbank. I just don't like the risk of a soft human body on a bicycle colliding with a multi-ton car.

That might be something very difficult to rationalize away. Being an active cyclist is to be cognizant of the risks and minimize those risks (i.e. ride assertively on safe streets, use lights, etc.), while also utilizing a little cognitive dissonance.

I ride between 5,000-10,000 miles a year. I've had several crashes due to my own fault or other cyclists' faults in races. I've also been hit once and suffered a very minor broken wrist that healed in three weeks. I am pretty lucky.

Some of my friends have been in crashes with cars and they are all fine. It was scary at the moment and they got hurt, with some injuries such as a broken collarbones, but they're all still riding and healthy today.

Of course, they all LOVE riding bikes. If you don't love to ride bikes, it's tough to "get on that horse after it bucks you off," so to speak.

Right. Your reply only confirmed my reluctance. =) I don't have that LOVE for the bike, I think you're right, that's an important point.

I want a pony. =)

I live five miles from work. There are bike lanes the whole way with no freeways inbetween. I drive.

I didn't move close to my job to spend 30+ minutes a day commuting.

I don't want to show up sweaty to the office.

I can run errands or meet someone for lunch. After work I wouldn't need to go home to get my car if I, on a whim, wanted to go across town for whatever reason.

Bay area is popular for biking because they make it difficult to park. Where I live they make it easy with large free parking lots. I'm in a large coastal city.

I agree! I sweat really easily and so biking to work would almost definitely make me sweat and look distressed before I even started the day. It is good to get some exercise I suppose, but I have a membership at the local Y and drive there.

Sign up for a local gym and use their shower.

So you have to from the gym to the office and sweat after the shower anyway?

Another reason, if you live in a city like where I grew up (Port Arthur, Tx), you had better be ready to be viciously attacked if you are out on a bike (or even out walking).

Someone is risk averse!

On a bicycle you have the Highway Code (or equivalent) on your side, you are also able to go into pedestrian mode if need be. Therefore you do not have to stop for anyone or anything if you do not want to. There are softer targets than cyclists and softer cyclists than you. So long as you have your wits about you then there is no need to be apprehended when on a bicycle.

You can even change your route to avoid having to stop, e.g. at a junction. You can also change your pace without arousing suspicion. There is no need to use a 'car park' or other area targeted by thieves. With an unassuming but well locked bicycle you need not have your ride be a cause of concern, even if locked up in an area you do not know well. In some cities parking is so expensive that the loss of a bicycle seat or wheel is 'affordable' risk.

By sticking to the tin box you are part of the problem and not the solution. Cities need regular citizens walking about in them to feel safe.

I'm out and about walking every day now that I live in Seattle; it really depends where you live. Thankfully, I don't believe you know what it's like to be cornered by five guys who want to beat your brains out for no good reason at all other than they are bored and have nothing better to do. At some point it's not worth it. It was a good motivating factor for me to work my ass off to make sure I don't live in such a place.

Actually I was writing with knowledge: I have been mugged, not just your normal mugging, but an ultraviolent mugging. I was on foot, two guys apprehended me, dragged me to the gutter, beat the living daylights out of me - I could see chunks of skin being kicked off my face but because they had kicked my kidneys in I could not feel anything (adrenaline). I heard more footsteps and thought I might be saved. Alas no, another gang joined in, the first of this group smashing a glass bottle on my head as a way of saying hello. After this went on for a while they dragged me to my feet and demanded money at knife point.

I know what I am talking about. My response to this was to ride a bicycle and never be a pedestrian in that bit of town again. I also moved house, seeing my own blood on the pavement was a bit much!

On your bike!

I think that might be part of what happened to Trayvon Martin. Walking to the corner store rather than driving was probably what seemed "suspicious".

By animals or by people?


I am confused by this. Are you talking about being attacked as in being mugged or something? As in biking/walking being unsafe because of crime? Or do people in your hometown attack bikers and pedestrians because they're biking/walking? If it's the second one I'd be interested to hear more about it because that's fascinating.

Pure random attacks, completely unprovoked, to take your bike. Me being a white didn't help either as usually such events included a lot of racial hate towards whites.

I live in an area that is incredibly bike friendly, but many people don't bike. Most of them either have far too long to commute or it simply isn't realistic given the weather. In the summer you see a bit more, but (at least for me), it is far more realistic to bring my bike to work hooked up to my car, and use that to get around from there.

Most adults could easily bike through cold, snowy, or wet weather with some simple equipment(fenders) and the right clothes, unless it's in a literal blizzard.

Maybe you should harden up and accept that life comes with the occasional slight discomfort.

> Maybe you should harden up and accept that life comes with the occasional slight discomfort.


Perhaps start-ups need to offer showers and changing rooms and safe bike storage, instead of ping-pong tables and air hockey?

Showers would be nice. Though if you take a hot shower beforehand it sharply reduces the bacteria that cause most odours for at least 10hrs. A quick wipe down when you get to the office is then usually sufficient. If it's really hot you could take a change of clothes and change in the toilet stall.

As for safe storage of your bike, just take it into the office and lean it against your desk. Don't ask permission.

well the land used has something to do with it. They used special road funds around here to resurface and fix roadways. One of the requirements were to install bike paths.

Small problem, the hills are many, varied, and of enough incline and length, to make them a challenge even to seasoned riders. So its rare to see them there. If anything I am more bound to find them on the 45mph roads as those tend to be flatter. Some of them do have bike lanes.

Now we have change the purpose of some parks to be more family friendly and bike friendly, these are normally connected to purpose built bike and walking trails; the Silver Comet is one.

So I think geography does influence it a bit. Even if I were within a few miles of where I needed to go the land just isn't all that much fun to zip about, unless on a motorcycle then those curves and hills are most fun.

I agree with your point about the hills, except the bay area in California is also like that. Even San Francisco itself has incredibly steep hills and still has a lot of bikes.

By the way, how did you know where I live?

Definitively. Urban planning in N-A cities is focused on how to have cars circulate/park as efficiently as possible, unlike most European cities. Car lanes are large, sidewalks and bike lanes are slim. Lights instead of roundabouts, parking garages instead of bike racks.

The article notes a slump in car sales, but doesn't chart historical bike sales (it only notes that in America bike sales are "solid") It could be coincidence: European bike might have risen, might have stayed the same.

>We decided to delve a little deeper into the figures and see which of these countries had the highest rates of bicycle-to-car ownership.

I'm more interested in historical bike sales, historical car sales, and the correlations and causations we could find, than which countries had the highest rates of bike-to-car ownership.

Here's the problem in the States: The automobile lobbyists dominate all transportation legislation.

So what kind of laws does that get us? In most cities electric bikes are illegal. Sidewalks and bike lanes, more often then not, only cover partial lengths of road. It's actually illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but the bike lanes in the States are so unbelievably dangerous that no one in their right mind would choose the bike lane over the sidewalk. You can't ride a bike along an interstate highway --that's illegal too. Oh, some rich cities have nice new bike paths, but they go almost no where useful and it is illegal to ride on those at night.

And to top it all off there's a cultural stigma that if you ride a bike for more than exercise or a leisurely peddle around the block then you are a worthless bum.

I guess Boston is one of those rich cities. There are swarms of business people commuting through the city each morning and night. I was not aware of anyone calling them bums. All of the people that ride the bike paths at night were unaware that it was illegal. The dedicated 10mi long bikeways like the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway are especially useful. 5000 lumen bike lamps help too.

Also, why would you want to bike on the shoulder of an interstate? The whole definition of a limited access highway is that only highspeed cars, going the same direction are on it, for safety.

Laws vary significantly by state. I'm pretty sure it's legal to ride on bike paths at night. In Washington you're required to have a forward-facing light and a rear reflector. It's also legal to ride on the sidewalk, unless you're in Everett.

As for biking on the shoulder of an interstate, there are areas where the only paved road going between two points is an interstate highway.

And of course there are very common borderline cases where I want to get from point A to point B, and the path on the interstate is 50 miles, while the path avoiding the interstate is 150 miles. So a trip that I ordinarily need to allot one day for becomes a 2-3 day trip unless I'm willing to pedal at top speed or for more than 8 hours. I don't want to bicycle on the interstate, but most infrastructure assumes your bike is a purely recreational vehicle.

> no one in their right mind would choose the bike lane over the sidewalk

In my head, it's the other way. Why would I deal with pedestrians, a rougher surface, and surprised cars when I can ride a dedicated lane on the road? You just have to do it a bit to get over the initially scary feeling when cars approach from behind and you have to trust they won't hit you.

> You just have to do it a bit to get over the initially scar feeling

No, you just have to accept the much-increased danger of being in a serious accident.

Not sure why anyone should let "cultural stigma" have any influence on what they do. Who cares?

As for sidewalks being safer than streets, that is a myth. The reality is streets are much safer for bicycles. This is a well covered subject, Googling "safer bicycle street sidewalk" brings up a lot of info. The main reason is drivers are not expecting anything on a sidewalk to be moving at bicycle speeds, so cars turn in front of bikers much more often.

The legality of biking on the interstate is decided state by state. Some states allow it totally, some partially, and some not at all. http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/faqs/answer.cfm?id=9

Erm, just because you buy a new bike doesn't mean you stop owning and driving a car.

When I was living in Vienna we had 2 cars and 3 bikes for the family.

Bikes were replaced more often, I needed to buy a bike twice in 5 years due to the original ones being stolen. Kept my car the whole time.

Not exactly sure what this article is trying to show. Bad statistics?

Exactly. I live in Denmark and sure many of us use our bikes from transportation, but I guess that a large portion of the newly purchased bikes are for exercise.

Most of us can't afford a car that we drive just for fun, but most can afford even a $4000 - $5000 bike that's just for fun. Included in these statistics are mountain bikes and racing bikes that people ride only in the weekends.

The number of people commuting on their bikes are more interesting, but then the US and a few other countries are screwed because of the distances between the city and suburbs or industrial parks that are inaccessible by anything but a car (European countries have these too).

I pedal to many meetings these days. It's fun, healthy and social. When a stranger pedaled up to me in the bike lane a few days ago and initiated a conversation, my day was made.

You see and experience more from a bike and it clears the mental cobwebs for me. Maybe my bobble head Yoda on the handlebars helps too :)

Pedaling on in California.

We're just too broke and can't afford the cars.

You know, recent trends in transportation are pretty weird if you think about them. Classic science fiction always predicted a future with space ships and interstellar travel, yet here we are discussing the most efficient ways to pack everyone together in urban areas in order to make it easier to ride bikes.

West meets East!

I finally pushed myself to bike to work this year, and up until this week managed to make my way to work 4-5 times a week using the bike. Living a 10-15 minute bike ride away from work really encouraged me to try this year, and I'm glad I did. I found it considerably more relaxing, even when riding in traffic, when compared to driving. Unfortunately, living in the Great White North, it has gotten too cold in the morning to bike (or at least it has for me). Temperatures are dipping below 0C, and I'm sure we will see snow soon enough. Bike is on standby mode now until next April or May when the snow is finally gone.

Its still doable even at those temperatures - here is what I do (though I don't use the bike when its snowing, yet):

1. Dress well. Its especially important to fully cover your face (except eyes), ears and hands. Winter hat, scarf, gloves are always mandatory.

Legs may also need good (multi-layered) coverage but its not that critical. The number of layers for the rest of the body varies with the temperature

2. Don't overexert yourself. Avoid getting to a point where you're breathing too quickly or too deeply - this can be painful and can trigger breathing problems. If your breathing starts getting deeper and faster, slow down.

Basically, its much better to overdress and go slower than to under-dress and try to go fast to compensate with body-heat. Most cyclists will claim the contrary, but the contrary only applies after having some experience (or for people who just can't bear to go slow).

3. Carry extra layers of clothes with you. You never know if the layers you need in the morning will be the same as the layers you need in the afternoon.

We have people here that bike year round, even though our temperatures dip well below 0C (we get -25 to -30C on a regular basis, with windchill being -35C to -40C). That is far more effort than I'm willing to put in.

Once it snows, I consider it far too dangerous (though again, there are a few people here that bike in snow w/ studded tires). I only have a bike lane for a short part of my ride, the rest being on 50, 60, and 80kmh roads with no paved shoulder. I don't want to find out what happens if I hit a deep patch of snow, ice, or some cross-winds while a semi is passing me doing 80kmh.

As for your 2nd point, I made that mistake the first time it got close to freezing. By the time I made it to work, I had a tough time breathing.

I'm in Edmonton, which sounds pretty similar to your climate. Except for those few -40 days I've found winter biking to be fairly comfortable once you get moving.

In my experience you don't want to be using a bike lane after heavy snow anyhow; they often don't get plowed. If you can take residential roads you're pretty safe (and studded tires really do make a HUGE difference).

But yeah, you don't want to be on the road with cars going 80km/h - I wouldn't be comfortable doing that every day in the summer, either.

Ah yeah, I'm in Winnipeg. You guys are getting the nice weather this week, while we get around 0C :(

• As a point of reference, the average price of a new car in August was $31,252. (That's a US statistic, but all I found.) The average cost of a bicycle is probably three-figures.

• Ownership of the two is not mutually exclusive.

• Usage habits of the two vary wildly, probably mostly favoring cars, not only because keeping an unused car is far more expensive and complicated than keeping an unused bicycle is, and because people don't tend to buy cars the first week of January to work off those holiday pounds.

I'm not sure why this article matters much.

Not just cars, but also locomotives and even boats! It is just pity that socks outsell the bikes.

I wish I could use my bike all year long but the truth is that for someone living in Canada (I'm guessing it's similar for some northern states too), it's impossible to bike half the year. Some brave folks do it but it's quite dangerous. For someone who has lived in Amsterdam many years it's a sad realization that my city will never become a bike haven.

If you're a family of four, you might have four bikes, and one car. Even 2 cars and you've still bought more bikes than cars.

And my kids have owned more bikes between them than I've bought cars in my life. They outgrow them quickly.

In almost every European country, shoes are outselling bikes!

Smaller countries / cities with better public transit make it viable to own bike instead of car. Not the case in most of US.

Whether roads are designed with bikes in mind impacts it as well. NYC is dense enough for bikes, but much more dangerous to ride one in than most northern European cities.

I'm sure the weather has a lot to do with it as well. If it's icy/snowy a significant portion of the year, that makes it from uncomfortable to dangerous to ride during that time.

NYC might get more snow than Copenhagen, but there is definitely snow here as well, and it doesn't heavily impact bike commuting. The solution is just to clear the bike lanes of snow, and salt to keep them from icing. They have these little machines with rotating brooms that drive down the lanes regularly: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/12/ultimate-bike-lane-snow...

Correct. In Barcelona, Spain, when there's risk of snow they use salt. I think the ice isn't the problem, it's the lack of lines who is it. But people is finding that in the end, there's many at least, in Barcelona, to use and they stop using their cars in favor of bikes.

Urban planning is an issue, but not the size of the country.

Density of population is the major factor Holland is a small densely populated flat country which helps with cycling.

Commutes are intra-city not inter-city; and the density of large cities in USA is comparable to the density of large cities everywhere.

Or you cycle to station (using a folding bike) and then to the office in the city - most of us in the Uk cant afford to live in central London.

In Belgium , there are some tax rules that subsidize companies that give employees company cars. So its very common for a white collar worker to have a company car.

I wonder if thats why Belgium is the only country where this isnt true ( well besides luxembourg )

It is to be true in Portugal when you reached a certain company level.

Now with the crisis and since I am living abroad for many years, I cannot tell if it still holds.

Aside from football, cycling is the most popular sport in Belgium. Maybe the bicycle market is saturated?

More interesting will be to see stats on car purchase rates in Uber and Lyft's top cities over the coming years. In SF, car ownership is becoming a luxury amongst people I know - they either have a sports car, or no car and use Uber/Lyft/Zipcar for transportation everywhere.

A recent David Sacks tweet claiming this got a lot of attention: "Why Uber/Lyft market is so much bigger than people think: it's not a substitute for cabs, it's a substitute for driving." https://twitter.com/DavidSacks/status/378305832602980353


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