At Ride the City, we're interested in promoting safe transportation by bicycle, and we’re always looking for innovative ways to encourage people to ride their bikes. Recently, we had a new idea for another way to do that: Replace the New York Times Automobiles section with a Bicycling section once a year. That would be just one week devoted to bicycles and bicycling—the remaining 51 weeks would continue to be devoted to cars. See our rough mock-up below for an idea of what the section might look like.
Here’s why we think this idea could work. It goes without saying that fewer people use a bicycle than a car for transportation. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, less than 1% of working adults use the bicycle as a primary method of transport to get to work (though many more use bicycles to run errands, or for recreation). While it's clear that a very small percentage of the population rides bikes, the number of people who do has increased dramatically over the last ten years. Across the board, the percentage of bicycle commuters is surging while automobile commuting is tapering off or declining. The highlighted percent changes on the U.S. Census Bureau chart below illustrate this beautifully:
Bicycling is growing in a major way. Though it may not be mainstream yet, it is becoming a larger part of our culture every year. Right now, if you're looking to find bike-related information, you can follow a bike-related blog or subscribe to a publication like Bicycle Times or Bicycling magazine. Sure, the Times publishes an occasional article or blog post about bicycling (such as the nice pieces by Bill Cunningham and the Spokes section of the City Room blog), but the bicycling world could support many more articles and features. You might think the Times already has a section for bikes, but the Bicycles and Bicycling section is just one of hundreds of Times Topics, and articles about bicycling aren’t published with any regularity.
We think that's not enough. We propose that once a year the Times takes a break from vintage cars, automobile ads, and auto-industry shows to make room for the growing culture and market for bicycles. It would be a small gesture for the Times, but a sure way to acknowledge the growing bicycle industry -- a burgeoning market of bicycle-related goods and services.
Thanks, and happy riding!