There are two reasons I’m visiting cities to ride the infrastructure. One is that I want to get a better sense of the subjective experience of the place; I feel like I can’t really understand a city unless I’ve ridden through it. The other is that I want to identify specific issues with the infrastructure. I’d like to get to a measure like “value over replacement facility” which counts mileage only for clearly bike-oriented improvements, and discounts those facilities which include hazardous conditions.


There’s not quite an equivalent of Charlotte’s social rides in the Bay Area. I participated in the Thursday Night Lights ride (a slow-paced, no-drop, baggy-pants ride), and then joined a group for their traditional Friday morning breakfast meet-up. The community is pretty tight-knit.

Natural bikeways

One of the things I noticed while riding around Charlotte was that certain streets, or collections of streets, are what I would call “natural” bikeways. These are relatively flat roads which carry relatively low traffic volumes for their width, and which allow you to ride for significant distances with limited major intersections and limited stops. The concept of the natural bikeway has several implications for my research.

Charlotte Spokes People

The first person who responded to me about meeting up while I was in Charlotte was Pam Murray, co-founder of the Charlotte Spokes People. Her philosophy is that education should be the primary tool to get people riding, and she organizes a number of social rides, which are an important part of cycling culture in Charlotte.

Kicking things off

I’ve long felt that we lack sufficient data about cycling rates and bike infrastructure, and I’d like to find ways to figure out more about what’s really going on with urban utility cycling. During my first visits (to Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX), I met a lot of helpful people who were interested in following the research as I go through the process.

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