There has been a lot of talk in the bike industry for some time now that the rising gas prices we all see are going to get people out of their cars and onto bikes...
Sorry, but that is a pipe dream friends. Gas prices aren't going to do it, not for long anyway. There may be a small up-tick in sales of bikes in a few markets, but it isn't going to be sustained growth. Maybe, just maybe, a little growth for some folks and then it will stop. Plus, this gas-fearing consumer is only going to buy a bike and the most minimal of accessories and then never be seen again- for the most part. These folks, as much as we want to pretend, are not going to become "cyclists".
Most of the people who will make the jump from car to bike will end up going back to their cars after a short while and once gas prices level off again. Am I the only person who remembers the gas crisis of the 70's? The industry thought it was going to grow in numbers never before seen and that it would remain healthy forever... ummm... didn't exactly work out the way we all hoped.
The bulk of the US population is, let's be honest here, a bit lazy. Getting all hot and sweaty (or cold and wet) on the way to work/ the store/ the bar/ McDonald's/ home just doesn't appeal to a lot of folks.
As an industry, if we really want to get people on bikes and keep them there, we have to do a better job of selling them on the fun and on the healthy lifestyle. Don't just scare them with the old "gas is too expensive" story, give them a reason to get out of the car with their families and out onto the streets and/or trails. Fear alone is not enough of a motivator. Besides, when gas prices go back down after the winter (which they likely will), the fear motivator will be gone.
I don't know, maybe I am the only one who sees things this way. I want so much more for this industry and for cycling as a sport and lifestyle. Being relegated to the false hope provided by trying to scare the crap out of people about gas prices just seems like a huge waste of time and a total cop-out. I had a beautiful lunch-time ride today and just felt completely reminded of why I fell in love with riding a bike over 20 years ago and why I can't seem to stop. Riding a bike is fun to me. I love the feeling I get when I am on a bike, whether poking around or sitting in a pack during a race. Gas prices are not a reason for me to ride a bike.
Maybe I just need to try decaf and lighten up...