Here's a fun read entitled "Americans leery of bicycles despite gas price jump." It certainly doesn't seem like folks around the Twin Cities are slacking off. The trails, paths and even the roads are host to more pedalers than ever. And I notice while riding that these bikers seem to be headed somewhere, not just out for a lazy pedal.
Sadly though, this quote from the article linked above expresses a sentiment all too prevalent among non-cyclists: "This is the U.S. and people will kill you out there riding your bike," she [Catherine Williams, who was filling her Cadillac with fuel when interviewed] said. "I would not take my life in my hands and ride a bike."
"People" will kill you? Aren't the "people" she describes as murderous actually drivers -- like herself?
I understand this fear, but it's a cop out from two angles. It means someone is neither ready to give up the car nor ready to embrace tolerance while driving. Neither are seen as tangible options. This fear says, "I don't want to be a part of the solution because I don't believe there is a solution."
Now a wise observation from an equally wise friend, Matt: "It's my view that most Americans will only change their driving habits and "way of life" when it becomes economic necessity, not because of values or intentional choices. It happened in 1979 when there was a gas shortage and the speed limits were lowered. That crisis passed but this one does not seem to have an ending that will return us to the "status quo." The era of cheap gasoline and abundant energy is ending, like it or not. People who consciously embrace and advocate for other options like living modestly and biking for transportation can help lead the way. It is difficult to estimate the impact that this transition will have on the global economy and global politics. This is uncharted territory."
I can dig his closing remark: "People will be riding bikes a lot more often in the future. It is inevitable."
Be well and play nice.