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Bicycles too need tyres

bicycle-tyreWhile the global automobile fleet has expanded from less than 150 million to nearly 500 million over the past 30 years, during that same time over two billion bikes were manufactured, and the number of utilitarian/transportation cyclists around the world has grown to over one billion, of which China now represents about half the total. Hard facts on bike usage, production, sales, imports, exports and trade are hard to come by. Data compiled by the Industrial Commodity Statistics Database of UN’s Statistics Division lists bicycle production by some countries, such as China producing about 64 million and India about 12 million bicycles in 2008.

Bicycling lets you have fun and get exercise while being kind to the environment at the same time. It can also be a great way to run errands, commute to work or experience a backcountry trail, not to mention more serious pursuits such as touring or racing.

In the US the bicycle market is dominated by imported bicycles. In 2011 it is estimated that 99% of the bicycles sold in the US were imported from China (93%) and Taiwan (6%). There were about 16 million bicycles – all wheel sizes – sold, generating about $6 billion in sales and service. There is no clear and absolutely correct number about bicycle ridership, because bicycle usage varies widely — from children riding to school to people commuting to work to racers going for training rides.

Collecting bicycle counts can be time-consuming and expensive, and — unlike as with automotive traffic counts — there is no financial incentive for states and local governments to collect bike counts. It is estimated that approximately 60 – 70 million people, about 70 per cent of the population age 16 – 70, ride a bicycle at least once during summer months. Of the riders, a majority rides for exercise/health (41 per cent) and recreation (37 per cent). Only about 5 per cent commute to work by bicycle. The average length of bicycle ride is about two miles, except for exercise / recreation / commute purposes it is around five miles.

Tyre innovations

Tyres with reflective strips on casing give a bicycle better visibility during night. Tyres with better puncture resistance would help riders enjoy a ride with less worry. Such tyres include an extra layer between the tread and the casing (as shown in the cross section pictured above) to help prevent punctures either by being tough or simply by being thick. However, these extra layers can cause higher rolling resistance. Replacement tyres and tubes should be accompanied with easy-to-understand instructions and materials. Solid tyres, with cellular rubber may be a possibility for some bicycles.

Increasing bicycle usage is beneficial both on personal and societal level. One factor that can significantly increase the usage is by having dedicated bicycle lanes on public roadways, as seen on many roads in China. In Bogota, Columbia, Some 300 kilometers of bicycle paths have been completed; all cars are banned from 120 kilometers of the city’s main streets on Sundays and holidays and a referendum was passed to prohibit car circulation during rush hours by 2015. In Nagoya, Japan, Employer contributions for commuting by bicycle doubled in 2000, while allowances for automobile commuters were halved. In Germany, Over 31,000 kilometers of paths and lanes are reserved exclusively for bicycles. Many such examples of incentives can be cited.

Bicycle riders should be educated about safety through helmet usage and observing relevant traffic regulations to enjoy rides in good health and with clear conscience!

By Louis Rumao

(Full text in February-March issue of PTA)

 

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