Over the last 20 years, the number of bicyclists has grown rapidly from coast to coast. Although still a small minority, an increasing number of people in cities like Portland, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis are choosing to commute by bike instead of cars.
That’s not all that’s changing in the bike community. In honor of National Bike Month—celebrated every May—we’ve dug deep into the Curbed archives to take a snapshot of biking today in the United States.
From new bike designs to an ever-expanding network of bike sharing systems, urbanites now have more access to bikes than ever before. But the U.S. still lags well behind other countries when it comes to bike infrastructure and usage. That’s why Curbed has also looked at specific cities to see exactly how local governments are pushing biking forward.
Finally, new tech—from lighting to mapping apps—aims to make biking safer. We’ve rounded up all our recent stories, right here.
The best way to celebrate National Bike Month? Get out on two wheels and ride.
There are some really cool new bikes
New bike technology is making it easier than ever to commute around cities, especially thanks to electric motors that help you get farther, faster. One of the most impressive is the Copenhagen Wheel. Smart technology uses a transferrable back wheel to turn any bike into an electric bike and the Copenhagen Wheel gives you 10x more pedaling power.
Other bikes like the sleek Propella look good and can take you 40 miles on one charge, while new designs are merging trends to create scooter-like bikes that make commuting more comfortable. Even Ikea has entered the bike game with an aluminum-frame, Scandanvian design costing a reasonable $499, and this home exercise bike—created to look like a bull—took the design world by storm when it debuted in Milan a few weeks ago.
Bike share systems are on the rise
In cities across the country, bike share systems have now become a crucial element of how people move from place to place. In the space of a decade, the technology has proliferated across the country, with 55 systems and more than 42,000 bikes available in a number of U.S cities, with more growth expected in the coming years.
In 2016 alone, bike shares launched in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Baltimore, and Portland, while DC’s Capital Bikeshare and New York’s Citi Bike announced major expansions. Seattle even overhauled its system in order to offer riders bikes with electric assist—an essential amenity in a hilly city.
Our country’s newest bike share system is launching this month in Detroit. Called MoGo , the system has been in the works for years and will debut with 430 bikes at 43 different stations. New Orleans is also getting its own bike share program this fall, and the city aims to double its bike usage over the next three years.
New technologies aim to make bike sharing even easier. Some believe that the rise of dockless, or stationless bike-share systems can help expand the benefits of biking without the financial overhead. Critics, however, say that stationless bike share systems still need to maintain safety standards, permits, and regulations, and some fear that bikes will end up discarded anywhere and everywhere.
Still, bike share systems are here to stay in the United States, especially in cities like New York City where nearly 14 million people rode Citi Bikes in 2016. Head over here for a comprehensive look at just how bike share systems are changing American cities.
It’s easy to look at other countries and feel like the United States has fallen behind in the bike world. London has plans to spend a billion dollars on bike highways, German cities are testing out bike-based cargo delivery services, and everyone knows that Copenhagen and Amsterdam are two-wheeled paradises.
Here in North America, Vancouver residents take an incredible 50 percent of their trips by walking, biking, and riding transit. Cities around the world are curbing pollution and fighting cars by prioritizing bikes.
But Curbed’s own Patrick Sisson emphasizes that the United States has seen progress. From The Beltline bike path in Atlanta to Portland’s Tilikum Crossing—the first major bridge in the country designed to exclude vehicular traffic—American cities are pushing biking forward and gradually reshaping multimodal transportation.
Read the full story, over here.
New tech is making biking safer
Another trend we’ve noticed here at Curbed is how new bike tech is making the streets safer for biking. The clever lighting device called Laserlight hopes to prevent collisions and save lives by visually alerting pedestrians and drivers to oncoming bicycles at night.
Laserlight attaches to a bike’s handlebars and projects a bike icon onto the street about 20 feet in front of the cyclist. Look for the new lights in New York City, where 240 Laserlights will be piloted on Citi Bikes.
In the Netherlands, new sensor-based traffic lights detect cyclists’ speeds before a traffic light and tell them whether they need to speed up, maintain the pace, or slow down in order to make the next light. Read more on the tech, over here.
A county in Maryland decided to help anxious cyclists with a first-of-its-kind bicycle stress map, a colorful new tool to help riders plan routes, and planners focus on the most effective areas for attention and upgrades. The map helps riders figure out which roadways will be an enjoyable trip and which dangerous roads should be avoided.
We revealed 12 great bike rides to take this summer
Finally, there’s no better way to celebrate National Bike Month than by simply getting out on your bike. Curbed has curated a list of top-notch bike rides in, around, or even between cities. From an urban cycling trail in Oregon to a gravel causeway in Vermont that takes riders out across Lake Champlain, these are the must-do bike rides for the summer. Check it out, this way.