Driven mostly by high gas prices*, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of bike commuters in the U.S. this past year. Bikes are everywhere you look in the media, and the bicycle industry is awash with cash. And as was seen at Interbike, manufacturers are directly targeting this influx of new transportational cyclists. It’s possible we’re looking at the beginning of new era in cycling, where bicycles are viewed more as tools than toys.
But, as exciting as it is to see more people on bikes, there is some cause for concern. On the way to work today, I saw gas as low as $3.29 a gallon, and in some Midwestern and Southern states prices have dropped below the $3 mark. This begs the question whether this new found interest in bicycles for transportation is here to stay, or whether those that took up bike commuting solely to save money will soon hop back in their cars.
With an ailing economy, many people may still be motivated to save money by driving less. There are also other significant reasons to commute by bike such as reducing our environmental footprint, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and improving our health and well-being by incorporating exercise into our daily routines. Let’s just hope our fledgling bike commuting friends find these other factors as compelling as the pocketbook. If they don’t, we may see this bicycle bubble pop like so many others in recent years—at least until gas prices go up again.