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(Published: 2009-06-18)

There’s been a lot written about the struggling automobile industry lately….most of it not good. American car makers, traveling in the slow lane (if not derailed in the breakdown lane) are being passed in the fast lane by bicycles.

Fueled partly by our desire to slow down and enjoy the journey, bikes are riding high on the trend curve. Rising oil prices, an obesity epidemic, a crumbling infrastructure, and an impending environmental crisis also contribute to the rise of a bicycle culture.

Dozens of new products and services have been sparked by the bicycle boom. Here are a few of my favorites:

• Complimentary bicycles are now available at many hotels across the country. Element Hotels (a new green Starwood brand) plans to offer free bikes to all guests during their stay.

• Cities are paving new paths and bike lanes aimed at attracting more bicycle commuters. London’s mayor recently introduced “You’re Better Off By Bike,” a summer-long program encouraging commuters to exchange their four wheels for two. The number of cyclists pedaling their way to work in the capitol has increased dramatically.

• Bike rentals are booming in Europe and Asia. Paris recently doubled the number of bicycles in their city bike program ( There are nearly 1,500 stations throughout the city. Riders purchase a one-day or weeklong pass for a nominal fee at any kiosk, hop on a bike, and drop it at their next destination. (There’s a Velib station every 900 feet in the City of Bikes—I mean Lights.)

• Madsen Cycles ( offers a fashionable utilitarian two-wheeler that comes with a rack or a bucket on the back than can transport two kids, or up to 600 pounds worth of stuff, thanks to a stretched chassis design. It’s fun and functional.

• In Europe, businesses from bakeries to auto parts companies (no irony there!) deliver goods to customers via bike carts. The British supermarket chain Waitrose offers grocery delivery via carts pulled by bicycles as part of their green initiatives. It’s a great way to save gas, beat the traffic, and show off your corporate commitment to the environment.

• Electric bikes are sparking a lot of interest. Ultra Motor of San Francisco is marketing the A2B, a zero emission bicycle powered by a 500-watt electric motor that can also be pedaled. The Gocycle ( is a new lightweight electric bicycle targeting commuters that prefer not to sweat on the way to work. It disassembles into a soft bag for portability and easy storage.

• Springwise reports on the Dutch brand Taga’s eco-stroller bike, recent winner of a Red Dot Design Award. The pedal-powered bicycle converts from stroller mode to bicycle mode in just 20 seconds. Parents on-the-go love it! (

• Burley offers The Tail Wagon, a versatile pet trailer that allows you to take your pet for a bike ride or a stroll in the park. (They ride, you pedal.) (

• Everything old is new again. The old-fashioned glossy black Dutch bicycle (unchanged since WWII) is experiencing a revival stateside. Priced between $1000 to $2000, the original Dutch version isn’t cheap….but it’s retro cool. ( This has spawned renewed interest in old-fashioned ‘cruiser’ models of all makes and brands.

Whether for work or for play, for your health or for the environment, for fun or function, as a nod to the past or a yes! to the technology of the future, the bicycle rules.

Pedal on!

Old: Original Dutch bicycle

New: The electric Gocycle

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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