This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Josh Cohen at PubliCola looks at some numbers on city-by-city bike ridership and concludes:
But if Anderson’s numbers are any indication, Seattle would do well to put as much effort into education and outreach as it does into infrastructure. Given that Bellingham has almost double the percentage of people who ride bikes, with roughly the same number of miles of bike paths and striped bike lanes, it’s worth considering a well-funded and well-executed outreach campaign in addition to the city’s ongoing efforts to build more and better infrastructure.
A couple of points here. First,I think it’s pretty hard to compare miles of bike paths between Bellingham and Seattle and look for any sort of meaningful relationship. The density is different, the demography is different, the commute distances are different.
That said, it’s probably true that putting effort into education will yield more riders. Bicycle commuting is definitely a tipping point (or virtuous cycle) phenomenon: once more people do it, it becomes safer, so more people do it, so more bike lanes get built, so more people do it, etc., etc. Heck, it might even be worth it to pay a few people to ride, just to get the numbers up and get the cycle going (assuming that you believe, as I do, that bicycle ridership is a net positive for the city).