It was big news last week when the American Automobile Association (Triple A) announced they would begin offering roadside assistance to people on bicycles*.
Triple A is not the first company to offer such a service, but given their past of lobbying for automobiles (often at the expense of biking) the move struck me as highly symbolic.
“When huge companies like Triple A start treating bikes like they treat cars it’s pretty clear an emerging trend is now maturing.”
— Pat Dooris, KGW reporter
What struck me even more about this story was how a local TV station reported it. KGW, Portland’s NBC affiliate station, ran their story on Thursday. Check out how anchor Joe Donlon introduced the video report:
“When the American Automobile Association begins covering bicycles, you know we have reached a tipping point in the world of transportation… It probably shouldn’t surprise any of us that Portland and the Northwest are leading the way in, once again, recognizing the rise of the bicycles.”
And KGW reporter Pat Dooris:
“We’ve clearly seen an increase in bike traffic in the last few years and when huge companies like Triple A start treating bikes like they treat cars it’s pretty clear an emerging trend is now maturing.”
And here’s Marie Dodds with Triple A:
“As we all know, bicycling is becoming more and more popular, whether you do it for the economy, for the environment, or because you’re worried about your fitness — a lot of people enjoy riding their bicycles.”
And how about Mitch Rofsky with Better World Club:
“I think it says a lot…I don’t think there’s any question that bicycling is growing…”
That kind of coverage is an important component of Portland’s bike ecosystem. Positive messages about bicycles — especially when they are not coming from a city or advocacy group-sponsored program — are very powerful ways of changing behavior.
Once people outside the regular bike bubble feel like “everyone’s doing it,” they’ll be much more likely to give biking a try.
Watch the KGW video here.
*Yes, I realize Portland-based Better World Club has offered bike assistance for many years.