Bike culture, which means the mainstream culture that supports a large percentage use of bicycles, is growing across North America. However, compared to Europe, the scope of cycling in America is minuscule. People may be regarded as somewhat weird if they ride a bike in America while there are 50 percent of people go to work or school by bikes in Copenhagen. It is just a simple comparison between Europe and America. Cycling is very popular in Europe.
The cycling nation
In Europe, many countries are regarded as the cycling nation, the most important are the Denmark and the Netherlands.
Cycling in Denmark
Denmark is one of the promised lands for cyclists not just in Europe but throughout the world. Ask the tourist in Denmark: "how are they, the Danes" and almost all of them will probably answer with a sweet smile: "the Danes, they ride their bikes!" As a distinctive trademark, cycling for Denmark, as it were, what the bowler hat is for England, and the samba is for Brazil. The bike culture, as old as the bike itself, is so deeply rooted in the Danish population just like it is an inseparable part of Denmark.
Copenhagen, the capital of the Denmark, is a bike city for more than a century. Copenhageners have used bikes as the transportation to work since the 1880s. The bicycles are not only seen as the means of transportation, but also something that characterizes the Danes and makes the Danes different from people from other countries. For the Danes, the bike culture portrays both who they are and where they come from and also how they have established their present day society.
Cycling in the Netherlands
According to the research, there are more bikes than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. Similar to Denmark, the Dutch learn to bike at a very young age, to ride into until their golden age. According to the research, there are 800,000 bikes which are more than the number of the population---779808, and only 263,000 cars in Amsterdam. With such a number of bicycles, as a matter of cause, the ridership is high. About 63 percent of Dutch people riding their bikes in their everyday life, which made up about 48 percent of all city traffic while there is only 22 percent for vehicles.
Cycling in North America
The number of cyclists in North America is increasing in the past two decades. The number of people in North America riding to work doubled between 2000 and 2009. Increasingly, there are 865,000 American workers biking to work in 2012. Compared to Netherlands or Denmark, the number is quite small. In North America, the bike culture depending on where the people live in. Generally speaking, cycling is much more popular in western North America than in the east. Biking is popular in the dense urban areas, gentrified neighborhoods, and university locales. For example, Portland, the American's greatest biking city, increased the number of biking by almost 6 times between 1990 and 2009.
The importance of bike culture
As the cycling nation, the bike culture is a sign of the democracy, equality, and solidarity for some European countries, like Demark and Netherlands. With the bikes, the Danes and Dutch of all ages gained much more freedom of movement. Deeply rooted in the countries, the bike culture has strong relation with the people. Cycling culture is the thing that the both Danes and Dutch carry with them from young age to old age: they all learn to bike from a very young age. People ride the bike on their way to school when they are young. As they get a little bit older, they ride to university or training places, later on as grown-ups to work and sports activities. As elderly, they use the bike to go shopping, go to the library or just to keep them fit. In other words, the bicycle is an important part of their everyday life in all ages. The people regard the bike culture as not only a part of their identity, but also a gift that they should be enthusiastic and thankful for.
However, the United States is called as the country on wheels, which means they are more likely to drive to commute. In North America, income would have impact on people ride bikes to work or for leisure---More affluent residents are more likely to cycle for leisure, while low-income populations are more likely to use bikes as the transportation to commute to work or school.
Bike Lanes and helmets
In most European countries, riding a motorcycle, scooter, or bicycle between cars is legal while California is the only state in the US where it is legal to ride between cars. Besides, bike lanes have a clear presence and are well maintained, and "bicycle superhighways" connect nearby suburbs to main city centers. City investment in infrastructure is another significant indicator for the popularity of bike riding. For example, in Copenhagen, the large majority of cyclists regard biking as the quickest and most convenient way of transportation that they are accessible to.
In Europe, many spaces are accessible to park the bicycles without paying the expensive parking fee. For example, when walking in Denmark, you will found that the street outside the train station would be converted into a disorderly, outdoor bicycle parking lot, with bikes stacked on double-decker racks. Bicycles lined every sidewalk, stood two- and three-deep against the old stucco and brick facades, and leaned against every lamp and signpost. This situation would be against by the North American people.
In Europe, most cyclists riding bikes without wearing helmets while most states of the North America require kids to wear helmets. Besides, many local jurisdictions require all people to wear helmets. This requirement is one of the causes that fewer Americans like to ride because it discourages the people to ride.
The above are the reasons why European bike culture actually far outpaces America's: the reasons vary from the history, country and the people themselves.