Where there is a will there is a way. There just is no will. North Americans aren’t fat asses by accident. There are plenty of choices available to the consumer right now. Any quality mountain bike with lights, a rack, some panniers and slick tires will do the job more than adequately. We need to stop waiting for the manufacturers to build the perfect bike. We have literally dozens of bikes that will do the job available now.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
I'd like to add my three-cents' worth to this.
First of all, it is a common misconception that you need to have a very expensive bike in order to be a serious and successful commuter. We have sold bikes to commuters in the Chicago area for nearly fourteen years. For every cyclist who has spent in excess of $1500 on a new bike, there are perhaps ten who buy a bike for under $500. Many of those folks are or become serious commuters. Many more people find bikes recycled in one way or another from the waste stream, and use them for commuting year-round in our midwestern climate. One of our oldest customers, who has a number of fancier bikes, uses a basic single-speed folder to get herself and her Schnauzer all over the city. Several people on our staff, including yours truly, use older bikes that we've adapted and maintained over the years as dependable and durable commuters.
Unfortunately, I think the above commenter is right. The fact that more people are not on bikes is fundamentally a matter of values more than price tag. Even the most cursory google search reveals what most people spend their money on, and how much money they spend. I have compiled some of these items, and, for comparison, suggested bicycles (or commuting gear) you could purchase instead. I used stuff we carry at Rapid Transit.
I think you may find that if only price were the object, bicycles compare rather favorably:
- Popular gaming systems (Wii, Playstation3). The system itself will set you back $400-500, plus $50 per EACH premium game. So let's say five games in a year (really, I have no idea how many games an enthusiast would buy a year, but five seems like a good number). So now you have $650-$750 at your disposal. At this price you could get yourself a Jamis Coda Sport, with fenders, rack, and a Kryptonite Evolution lock. You might even have enough left over for a helmet.
- What's a fancy game system if you don't have a big TV to play on? A highly rated 52" plasma TV will cost you $3000-4500. You could buy one really nice bike for yourself. Like this one. But at this price, you can get everyone in the family on one. How about a Bacchetta Corsa recumbent for the more adventurous family member, a Jamis Aurora Elite for the traditionalist, a Marin Bayview Trail for your older kid, and a nice convertible Chariot Cougar double trailer for the twins? Might as well get them started on the bike culture while they're young.
- As long as you have a big TV, you should get a good program package to go with it. How about Comcast Triple Play, which will also cover your internet and phone. This will run $99 a month (each and every month). For about one year of this privilege, you could get a Surly Long Haul Trucker with a Burley Flat Bed trailer. One more month, and you could go for the BOB trailer.
- Speaking of cell phones, you won't be able to buy a bike for a cost of a Razr (but you could get some useful accessories), but for an iPhone, at 400-500, you could get one of the most perfect minimalist commuters, a Marin Muir Woods with a lock. (I could, but I will not, include a MacBook in this comparison, because I happen to think that they are absolutely essential for existence).
- For $1000-2000 you could buy a stationary exercise machine, which might help you get fit, but will not help you get anywhere. For that kind of money you could treat yourself to Kona Jake The Snake, a Chrome messenger bag and a helmet. Or for maximum commuting flexibility, get the Bike Friday Tikit.
- And how about those small but regular expenses that really add up over time. Such as:
- Lattes. Let's say you indulge three time a week at $4, times 52 weeks, that's about $600, which you could spend instead on a Dahon Curve folding bike.
- Transit pass. At $75 a month, a CTA pass will cost you $900 per year. Don't give up the CTA entirely. Public transit is a good thing. Here's an idea: use the CTA when the weather is bad. Save half the money and get yourself a Breezer Freedom or a Marin Larkspur.
- Health club membership. About a grand? But now that you are riding your bike and not the bus more often, maybe you can skip it. In that case, you can afford a much nicer bike, such as Jamis Coda Comp, or perhaps and Exile 29-er. Throw in the money saved in the step above, and you can step up to a Kona Sutra.
- Gas. Oooh boy. There are so many ways you could approach this. Let's use my own experience. A fill-up on my minivan costs about $70 these days. Let's say I fill up once every two weeks. Ten weeks' worth of gas would yield me $350. That would just about get me on a Kona Smoke. If you are more serious about giving up your car, make it 20 weeks, and you could afford a Kona Paddywagon or a Marin Fairfax.
Of course, this is just a handful of examples to demonstrate how affordable bicycles really are in the scheme of things. This doesn't even begin to address the rewards -- improved health, physical and mental, cleaner air, sheer enjoyment -- that bicycles offer over these other pursuits. And I'm not asking for privation. But now imagine that some people could give up ALL of the above items. And not just for one year, but forever. Now they could afford to buy bikes not only for themselves, but for all the neighbors on their block! And maybe even send some overseas to help folks around the world. Wow.
Anyway, a pipe dream. People are lazy.