This is apparently a big national walk-or-bike-to-work-church-school-bars-and-ballgames week. Tomorrow is the bike day.
Here in Minneapolis, I can ride the bike I'm already riding to my volunteer gig on Thursday, then park it in a "bike corral" a block away and receive $5 off on a ticket to the Twins game I'm already planning to attend. I don't think scalpers are in on the deal, though, and I hate it when you ride your bike places and then can't find a parking place...
I'm all for events that are fun and encourage people to experience life on the other side of a car window [all photos here are from the Fruita Fat Tire Festival "Clunker Crit"]. Getting back on bike, even for a few summer days, will raise their awareness when they get back behind the wheel. But like bring-a-can-of-pork-and-beans-for-admission rock concerts and this-time-you-be-the-designated-driver Saturday nights, they won't undo habits designed into our culture and our cities.
The New York Times asks some urbanists whether going car-free is a realistic goal. Their answers embrace urban density, design, transit, household economics, energy, appropriate car use, connectivity and putting some there there for walkers and bikers.
The Uptown Urbanist writes about how difficult it is to change car-centrism, breaking down the contradictions in the Calhoun Area's Master Plan, which envisions a "great urban neighborhood" where "people could live without a car." It also proposes residential development that provides for twice the parking required by the city of Minneapolis.
Maybe some of these riders will keep at it, but I suspect many more of these entry-level bikes are destined for garage sales after the riders discover a) They don't lose weight peddling two miles at 6 miles an hour; b) aggressive drivers don't like them any more than people in spandex; and c) it hurts bad when you fall and don't wear a helmet.
The cities are getting better for bikes, and I wish the newbies (not nOObs) well. But I'm not parking in the bike corral.