The Bike Boom’s Bubble Bursts


Despite the emergence of urban bike lanes, cycling is down markedly in the United States.

One wonders what the implication of this is in Ottawa with its ever-increasing bike lanes:

Americans are getting off their bikes: Ridership has dropped since 2000. Bicycle sales are down. Most troublingly for those who plot an enduring bike restoration in American cities, the decline is particularly sharp among children: In 2000, more than 11 million kids’ bikes were sold in the U.S.; by 2013, it was less than 5 million.

To read the full story from The Atlantic CityLab, click here.


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9 thoughts on “The Bike Boom’s Bubble Bursts

  1. Perhaps the decline in the sale of bicycles, in particular for children, may be tied to the growing fear for personal safety within many communities. Bicycles extend the territory a child can cover in 10 minutes. An adventure into the wrong neighbourhood could become a tragedy. As I said, perhaps.

  2. Many adults buy a bike and think – hey this is a great idea. It will be good for my health, good for the environment, save me money on gas and it will be fun.

    A few stick with it through rain and snow but most soon realize that their clothes get dirty, it does rain, it gets cold and this damn thing ain’t got a motor for going up hills.

  3. Not to worry Ken, The Mayor and Councillors in Ottawa have experience dealing with these sorts of issues. Example: bus ridership is down and we are spending loads of money on a new LRT and everything seems to be fine. (on time and on budget)

  4. In Ottawa, trends show a steady increase in the number of cyclists using the Laurier Segregated Bike lane (source:

    Citizens for Safe Cycling reports a 40% increase in bike trips from 2005 to 2011

    and then, there is this from the article that seems to go against the premise:
    “Now, riding home from work after dark, I might be part of a stream of cyclists—young and old, men and women—plying a new cycle-track that runs up the city’s spine, our blinking red lights climbing northward for blocks. Just in the last several years, the uptick in our numbers is noticeable: Even on the foulest and wettest winter days—in the middle of a city that is on no one’s list of most bike-friendly burgs—I’m never alone out there any more.”

    1. Steve:

      Do you have any figures from people who aren’t biking advocates like yourself?

      You see the article I ran if from Atlantic CityLab. The Atlantic has a long history of solid journalism. You have a history of one-sided lobbying.



      1. I see, and enjoyed the article from CityLab – thanks for posting it. The figures linked to about volumes on the Laurier Bike Lane are directly from data released from the City of Ottawa. You can access the data yourself at I believe the 40% increase number also comes from the City of Ottawa, either through the 2012 cycling index or the 2013 cycling plan.

        Looking at the Richard Florida link, his CityLab article has this nugget:
        “Even as the number of regular bike commuters has skyrocketed by more than 60 percent from 2000 to 2013, nationally, less than one percent of commuters (0.6 percent) bike to work at least once a week.”
        Which seems to disagree with your headline, that we are seeing a bust. There are a lot of people who are NEVER going to commute by bike, let alone once a week. Working at a mine in Northern Ontario? A logger in BC? Generally people in the trades, etc. The focus needs to be, and IS on people in an urban location, and even then, generally within the core. While some people will commute by bike from Kanata to downtown (it happens), not many will. However, those who live 5-10km might. What is the modal share in downtown Ottawa?

        Beyond all this, we can go back to the data of dropping bike sales, and whether that is a valid measure of ridership. Is this only new bikes? Because we know there has been a trend towards vintage road bikes over the last decade.

          1. Thanks for the ad-hominem response Ken. If you can’t respond to the argument, attack the person instead.

            As for facts being wrong? I don’t dispute a decrease in bike sales. That was the fact that was brought. I do question if that is a valid measure of ridership. Why don’t we look at ridership numbers themselves instead?

            1. Steve:

              Trying to present an argument to you is like hammering your head against the wall. It feels pretty good when you stop.

              You have a cause to espouse and you stick to your guns relentlessly.

              God bless ya. But there is nothing to be gained by debating you.




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