When less than half the residents of a city own a car, there's got to be folks looking for another alternative to hoofing it And that's precisely what's happened with the bicycle in Berlin over the last twenty years, as it has become completely common for the average resident to ride a bicycle every day of the week. In fact, they've come to dominate the flow of traffic at intersections, as cars now even yield to bikes in that city!
And while it's true that the city has invested a significant amount of energy in cycling lanes and the like to make it as bike-friendly as possible, the trend toward cycling has also meant there's now safety in numbers. As filmmaker Ted White and bike designer George Bliss noted while spending time filming in China, at certain unmarked intersections cars just completely ignore cyclists on the side of the road waiting to cross until a certain "critical mass" of them accumulate. That critical number seems to make it safe for all of them to cross, as the motorized vehicles come to a stop and let them all head safely to the other side without a fight
Of course, there are bikes chained up all over the place, to every pole and knob on every major thoroughfare. They even crowd the lobbies in apartment buildings as well. But with global warming on the rise and fuel prices certainly set to do the same, it seems to me that this pollution reduction "machine" certainly has clear benefits to residents of big cities and small towns alike.
Now to find a way to better adapt suburbia for their use...