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Growing Biking in America: Look to Immigrants and Sushi?
Amanda Reed, 11 Jun 10

Here are two recent stories on unexpected ways to grow biking in America that caught my eye:

More Immigrants, Please
Roger Valdez at Sightline writes:

I’m starting to think that maybe more immigrants might help our country’s [the U.S.] transportation systems and culture, especially after reading a recent study by UCLA professor Michael Smart entitled US immigrants and bicycling: Two-wheeled in Autopia which found that immigrants—legally or illegally in the US—are twice as likely as Americans to travel primarily by bicycle.
So however new people arrive in our country, and whatever their status when they are here, clearly they are bringing a bike and alternative transportation culture with them. And we can learn from them. One important implication of the study is that bike advocacy groups would do well to reach out more to communities not typically represented in their ranks. Combining forces with immigrant communities could add to efforts to improve bike infrastructure.

What Do Sushi and Bicycles Have in Common?
Sarah Goodyear at Streetsblog reports on a great conversation happening at Copenhagenize about the difficulties of marketing bicycling as transport in America. Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize draws parallels between bicycle culture and sushi — from a marketing standpoint — that reminds me a little of The Ninja Gap argument:

Sushi was "trendy" in L.A. and then New York, where it stranded for a while — but didn’t go away. The Theory of Diffusion of Innovations came into play. The Innovators took hold of sushi. It moved over to the Early Adopters and then the Early Majority. It’s now been embraced by the Late Majority and, in the case of sushi, there are probably many Laggards who will never try it. Nevertheless, it’s a success.

The bicycle is "hot" again, all over the world. With a bit of luck, the trend won’t fade and we will continue to sell urban cycling positively, in order to allow the bicycle to tango its way into the lives of the Early Majority. We’re well on our way.

So what biking needs in America is more sushi?

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The quote below says that immigrants are bringing alt. trans. culture with them, but I wonder for how long. Will they give up the bike when they have the money to but a car.

"they are here, clearly they are bringing a bike and alternative transportation culture with them"

For the poor immigrants they likely ride b/c they don't have another choice. Then as soon as the have the money, they buy a car.

I do hope you are right that it is a culture of alt trans with them and that it will stick in the long run. I wonder if some of the bike culture in US cities these days, is from bike friendly immigrants.

Posted by: Jim on 13 Jun 10

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