You've probably noticed recently that a lot of cities are advocating alternative transportation methods and have taken steps to improve the infrastructure to allow and encourage people to ride bikes for pleasure, fitness and commuting. Designed with the systems in Paris, Montreal and other international cities in mind, Denver, Minneapolis, and Boston are instituting bike-share systems which allow residents and tourists alike to rent-a-bike from kiosks throughout the city and return them to any other kiosk of their choosing. Communities are working to create more bike lanes and paths and promote bike safety.
I know several people who commute to work on their bike (They are fearless. I would be completely freaked out by rush hour traffic, myself) and of course, many people who just enjoy riding for fun. Not only is it a healthy choice for the rider, but also healthy for the environment. Unfortunately, with the increase in ridership, there also seems to be an increase in bike theft. An article in The New York Times on Sunday explored the issue. While most local police departments do not keep official numbers of bike thefts, the FBI's report of 188,698 thefts in 2008 is most likely way below actual results because local departments only report voluntarily and most people don't even report stolen bicycles. Compared to statistics from other years, this is slightly higher and officials do believe that ridership has increased over the last several years. Some cities and colleges are taking steps to crack down on bike thieves as many have actually turned out to be sophisticated rings rather than simple acts of convenience. A company has developed bait bikes that have a form of lo-jack attached to them so thieves can be caught quickly and easily. It's a pretty great idea, but it comes at a steep cost when each bait bike is $7,000 and budgets are tight. Still, it's nice to know that some communities are working hard to stop this.
If you ride a bike, be careful with how you lock it up and where you leave it. If you ever have a bike stolen, be sure to report it, don't just let it go.
I don't bike, but I wish I did. Not like the road bikers who do laps in the park early in the morning and freak me out as they zoom by in their large groups, but I'd like a cool retro looking cruiser with a little basket on front so I could carry groceries, my book and whatever I needed for work. Maybe one day I'll get one! Probably around the same time we buy a house.
Do you bike? Have you ever commuted on bike or would you? Do you take caution with where you lock up and how? Does your community support and promote biking?