As gas prices soar, city cycling more attractive

By Jason Dearen

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 13 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"The question is: How do we get people out of the mindset of getting into their car?"

This same question was asked in hilly San Francisco, where chilly fog and geography are a challenge for getting people to bike to work and school.

The increase in San Francisco cyclists since 2008 came after the city spent $4.5 million in public money on 23 miles of new bicycle lanes stretching from the bay to the Pacific Ocean. Dedicated, separated bike lanes have been sprouting up on streets throughout the city and have made cycling safer.

It's not just major cities reacting to residents' call for more bike-friendly projects.

Davis in Northern California has one of the highest rates of bicycling in the nation, with 17 percent of its 64,000 residents using a bike to commute to work and 41 percent calling bikes their primary mode of transportation, according to a study by the Bicycle Federation of America.

Throughout the state, cities have spent millions in state, federal and local dollars on programs and seen the number of cyclists increase, according to Susan Handy, a professor of environmental policy and planning in the University of California, Davis' Transportation Technology and Policy Program.

Changing attitudes about cars caused by climate change have helped these efforts, Handy said. Also, people in their twenties and thirties have adopted biking in larger numbers than previous generations, Handy said.

"I think all these factors are coming together at this moment in time to create a renaissance in bicycling as a mode of transportation. Whether it will be a passing fad or a lasting trend, time will tell, but I'm betting on the latter," she said.

Jason Dearen can be reached at: www.twitter.com/JHDearen

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