The United States has been on a "bike craze" since the late 1890s. Back then, when cycling was mostly considered a sport for the rich, the U.S. was a global leader in what, today, is considered "protected bike lanes," with cycle "side paths" built across the country. New Jersey had a bicycle railroad, and Los Angeles even had a bike highway in the 1900s. Hard to imagine when cyclists (and even pedestrians!) today must compete for safe space on our urban streets across America.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, bicycling became a saving grace. People still wanted to be outdoors instead of being cooped up in the house all day; bicycles became popular, and bike sales increased. It was much like a biking revolution. LawnStarter recently ranked the biggest cities in the United States that boasted a bike-friendly lifestyle. Unfortunately, our very own Baton Rouge was named the worst city in America for biking. It is no surprise that Baton Rouge, or any Southern city for that matter, would find itself at the bottom of that ranking. Weather in the South is the primary reason. Baton Rouge has a high consistency of rain and high temperature, so it is not easy to bike for a long period of time on hot and rainy days. Thus, it makes sense for there to be fewer bike trails, bicycle commuters, and bike lanes in the South. It also didn't make sense for many Southern cities to invest in biking infrastructure when there were fewer cyclists around.
Since the pandemic, however, bike lanes and bicyclists have become top priority. The bicycle has become fashionable again, and mayors have begun to subtract lanes that were made for cars. They are, once again, creating protected bike lanes that are separated from dangerous car traffic. Baton Rouge is following the lead, and there is no doubt that this will add to the already outrageous traffic in Baton Rouge. Perhaps the increased traffic will motivate more bicycle commuters, and Baton Rouge will jump up in the rankings in 2022!