Shareable.net published my article about three different bike cooperatives today. It starts:
Over a hundred years ago, H.G. Wells famously quipped, “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
When Wells wrote his novel Cycles of Change in 1896, the world was in the throes of a bicycling craze. James Kemp Starley’s 1885 invention of the modern bicycle enabled the working classes to travel quickly and cheaply for the first time. Women who had been constricted in corsets, hoops, and petticoats were donning bloomers and discovering a newfound freedom of movement.
Today in the United States it can be harder to muster Wells’ optimism about the bicycle. Only one percent of urban trips in this country are made by bike, and only 0.55 percent of people commute to work on a bicycle.
And although Susan B. Anthony once credited the bicycle with doing “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world,” today the vast majority of American cyclists are white males. According to research by John Pucher, American men make three times more trips by bicycle than women. Plus, a 2008 NSGA Sports Performance Study found that while African Americans and Hispanics make up 12 and 15 percent of the U.S. population respectively, each group represents only about six percent of bicyclists.
Obviously there are some huge barriers to bicycling in the United States, especially for women and minorities.
Nevertheless I discovered ample reason for optimism about the future of American bicycling. In cities across the country, people are coming together to form bicycle cooperatives with the mission to make buying, building, and repairing bikes an affordable, accessible, and shareable experience. And many of them are reaching out to women and minorities.
You can read the rest of the article here.