Maybe you’ve heard about the bike lanes in New York, bike shares taking off across the world, and the other cycling headlines. “Sure, that’s great for them – all this bicycle hullabaloo  But that’s not happening where I live,” you might think. But prepare to be pleasantly surprised; bikes are making a difference in places you might least expect them.

Urban Metropolis

Los Angeles – Iconic images of LA do not necessarily make one think of bicycles. LA has been and been made out to be a place for cars. The famous views of the 110, the 101, and the 10 in downtown speak to that. From the outside LA is car country.

Folding bikes in LA

Where are the bicycles?

However over the past two years something involving bicycles is becoming a bit more obvious. Beginning in 2010 Los Angeles began hosting an event inspired by the ciclovia events in Bogota, Colombia and other cities in Latin America. Thus began CicLAvia.

What began a little slow, and a little small has blossomed into over 100,000 people biking the streets of LA. The first ride festivals have seen seven miles of dedicated cycling route, roads closed to all but bicycles as vehicular traffic is redirected. Many have been surprised at just how many cyclists have shown up, have traveled in to ride, and the overwhelming enthusiasm.

 

Riding bikes in LA at CicLAvia

[image credit Luis Sinco for the LA Times]

“People love CicLAvia because it is incredibly fun, and there is a sense of camaraderie and community that is rare for a city as large and diverse as ours,” CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley said in a statement.”People love CicLAvia because it is incredibly fun, and there is a sense of camaraderie and community that is rare for a city as large and diverse as ours,” CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley said in a statement.” -from the LA Times article

For photos of bikes taking over the streets of LA, check out the LA Times gallery.

Small Town America

A Path Less Pedaled makes the argument that bikes can save small town America in an economic sense. A Path Less Pedaled is the blog journey of Russ and Laura, who sold everything they owned and bicycled thousands of miles across and around the US, and later even in New Zealand. On their journeys they’ve picked up some thoughts on small town America. Touring cyclists and tourists on bicycles travel more slowly and seek out the quiet scenic roads of small town America. This means they will stay for more than one meal and one night. A longer economic interaction between cyclists and small towns can be derived from this kind of tourism, and thus mutual benefit. They even mention successful examples.

Not to mention each year RAGBRAI, the ride across Iowa from the Missouri to the Mississippi brings thousands of cycling tourists to the heart of corn country. Small towns and farms along the route celebrate all things corn and cycling, it is a bicycle powered economic jump in high summer when there’s nothing else to do but watch the corn grow.

Other Places

Bikes also thrive in these places, which we may have mentioned before….

Planes, and also planes; military bases; boats; and long haul trucking.

Who would have thought? Where have you seen bikes thrive where least expected?

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