Aggregator 1-2-2010

News of interest

FHWA Issues Final Rule for Revised Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.   There are several changes relevant to bike design, but the most interesting is that the shared lane marker, aka sharrow, is now vetted as a standard practice, so your local traffic jurisdiction no longer has an excuse not to use it if appropriate.  The bike part of the document is available here.  

 

Sharrow

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The New Republic notes that Americans are still driving less even though gas prices are down from their peak.  Per capita mileage just begins to level off at the end of 2009 from a downward trend that started in 2005 or so.   Sign of real change?

Miles driven per capita

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Time has some more interesting details on the Netherlands’ road-use tax.   Charging for each kilometer driven based on type of car and with higher rates for times of peak congestion seems like a good idea to me, but I can’t imagine it meeting with success in the hysterically tax-averse U.S.

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Older drivers face choice between safety and mobility.   The mainstream media, in this case, the Washington Post, is becoming more aware of the isolating effect of car-oriented suburban living on people who can’t drive, in particular people getting too old to drive.

A well-designed community means that independence does not depend on the ability to drive.

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Bike and car production rates.  I came across a file with this graph in it on Earth Policy Institute data center.

You can see the Bike Boom  in the early 70’s and the mountain bike boom in the late 80’s, followed by doldrums in the late 90’s.

But it looks like the Bike Boom was no fluke (though there was an adjustment that marks the end of the period recognized as the bike boom).  It actually looks like that inflection point in 1969 was the beginning of a long-term trend. 

There is another file from the same source that shows where the production increases were; recently, all the growth is in China.  It is no surprise to anyone that China is producing so many bikes, but it does suprise me that all other countries listed are shrinking, including Taiwan.  U.S. bike production is a mere 3.4% of its peak.

Year China Italy Germany France Total EU-15 Taiwan Japan United States
                 
      Million Units      
                 
1990 31.9 3.5 3.9 1.5 n.a. 6.8 0.7 5.6
1991 36.8 3.6 4.9 1.2 n.a. 7.7 0.8 7.6
1992 40.3 4.1 4.6 1.0 n.a. 7.5 1.0 8.9
1993 41.0 5.2 4.1 1.0 n.a. 7.9 1.0 7.7
1994 42.0 5.8 3.5 1.3 n.a. 9.2 1.1 7.3
1995 41.0 5.3 3.2 1.3 n.a. 9.7 1.8 8.8
1996 38.0 4.0 2.9 1.3 n.a. 7.4 1.5 8.0
1997 30.0 4.0 2.8 1.3 n.a. 11.9 1.8 6.0
1998 33.8 3.0 3.2 1.6 11.7 10.5 5.9 2.5
1999 42.7 3.2 3.2 1.8 12.1 8.4 5.6 1.7
2000 52.2 3.2 3.3 1.9 12.3 8.0 4.7 0.9
2001 51.2 2.7 3.0 1.6 10.5 5.0 4.2 0.9
2002 63.0 2.4 3.1 1.4 10.2 4.4 3.1 0.4
2003 73.0 2.6 3.2 1.5 10.4 4.3 2.5 0.4
2004 73.0 2.6 2.9 1.7 10.4 4.4 2.5 0.3
2005 80.7 2.4 2.7 1.7 10.3 4.7 1.9 0.2
2006 84.9 2.4 2.5 1.3 9.6 4.3 1.3 0.3
2007 87.0 2.5 2.4 1.1 n.a. 4.9 1.1 0.3

 The abrupt downturn in US production in the late 90’s can be explained with this, from Wikipedia: ” In 1996, Murray Inc., the last major U.S. bicycle producers with Huffy and Roadmaster (formerly AMF), received a major blow when U.S. courts ruled that imports from China were not a ‘material threat’ to U.S. companies. Within three years, Huffy, Roadmaster and Murray ceased manufacture of bicycles in the United States.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_(bicycles))

The fact that production of bike units continues to grow faster than car production looks good, but  how much of this is just mindless consumption of  toys, fueled by planned obsolescence?  And where do all these bikes go?  Are they used briefly and thrown away?

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  1. #1 by Hayduke on January 4, 2010 - 1:01 pm

    Lots of good info here. The “corporal biker” symbol is new to me, but I like anything that tells drivers that, yes, actually I am supposed to be in the road and I’m going to take a big chunk of it to avoid a face full of car door.

    Good to see the VMT is looking less and less like a fluke. Last time I looked at the raw numbers (a year or so ago) Tennessee was decreasing faster than the national average. How far does this have to go before we quit building and widening roads?

    It would be interesting to see the Chinese bike totals broken down to see how much of it is just their taking over foreign markets, given that the domestic market should be fairly stable. I’d also like to see it broken down into commuter/cargo bikes vs. toys.

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