James posing as a hipster on a fixie in Baltimore, Maryland in October 2011 – Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country
As we approach another new year, I have been reflecting on the events of 2011 and how they have shaped both myself and this website. In many ways, 2011 has been a coming of age for The Urban Country. We have reached record levels of readership and have been told by many people that we are one of their favourite bike blogs. A few weeks ago we were nominated as one of the best new bicycle blogs in 2011 on Cyclelicious.
In 2004 I started The Urban Country as a personal blog. The name was reflective of my home country Canada – a country of vast land where the majority of the population resides in urban areas. I talked mostly of politics, the economy, the environment, shared jokes and generally just vented on whatever was on my mind.
In 2009 I started to focus exclusively on bicycle transportation to highlight to citizens of our car culture that it is fun and rewarding to get around by bicycle. Bicycles are a relief from the imprisonment that we call car ownership and widespread use of bicycles makes our cities more liveable and simply more enjoyable to traverse. Bicycling can make commuting to work or school – or wherever the road takes us – delightful instead of dreadful; gratifying instead of frustrating.
With our busy schedules we can get our daily exercise without any forethought or self discipline. We can leave for a meeting and know exactly how long it will take to get there without checking the traffic or bus/train schedule. It is liberating, and this true freedom of mobility barely costs anything.
In 2011 The Urban Country’s message began to spread and we saw more than 200,000 visits on this website throughout the year with more than 160,000 unique visitors. This would seem low for a mainstream website, but The Urban Country is still in its infancy and has room to grow and spread the simple message further in the coming years.
Through this blog and twitter I have met some amazing people who really care about improving this world we live in. Without these great people I would probably lose my motivation and slip into a state of cynicism and despair for our future. But the readers of this website give me hope for a better future in North America and beyond.
Thanks to all of you who have added The Urban Country to your list of blogs that you regularly read – it sincerely means a lot to me – especially when there are so many other great websites out there to occupy your limited time.
Below are some 2011 highlights and website statistics that some of you might find interesting. Following the statistics are a few things that I have planned for 2012 and beyond.
- Developed & launched www.ratemyvelo.com – a website that allows users to vote on user-uploaded photos of people on bikes “to show the world that bicycles are for more than just sport”.
- Calculated that the average American works 2 hours a day just to pay for their cars
- James and his wife had their first baby
- Mikael from Copenhagenize launched the Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities for 2011 – which originally spawned from a collaboration between Mikael and James in 2010.
- Launched the ‘i share the road’ sticker campaign to promote a positive message of sharing the road between drivers and cyclists.
- October marks one year since I sold my car and went car-free. My transportation costs are now virtually $0 so I have $8,000 in my bank account that I wouldn’t otherwise have had if I kept my car.
- Created the “Rethinking Transportation: How the bicycle can save our cities and ourselves” talk.
Most Popular Articles in 2011:
- Critical Mass Carnage (GRAPHIC VIDEOS) (February) 73,361 views & 107 comments
- Americans Work 2 Hours Each Day to Pay For Their Cars (May) 14,815 views & 33 comments
- You’re Welcome Mr. Motorist (January) 5,861 views & 25 comments
- Anatomy of a Dutch Bicycle (January) 4,212 views & 16 comments
- Roads Weren’t Built For Cars (July) 3,819 views & 8 comments
- Bicyclists Must Obey Laws If They Want to Share the Roads (February) 3,503 views & 37 comments
- Motorists Prime Beneficiaries of Socialism (August) 3,441 views & 35 comments
- Bicycle Infrastructure Is Good For Business (May) 3,409 views & 3 comments
- The Bicycle as a Status Symbol (September) 2,586 views & 16 comments
- Trashy Bike Lane (November) 2,466 views & 21 comments
Top Traffic Sources:
- google search traffic (31,676 visits)
- reddit.com (26,900 visits)
- facebook.com (13,515 visits)
- feedburner (8,558 visits)
- imgur.com (6,514 visits)
- ehowa.com (5,213 visits)
- stumbleupon.com (4,668 visits)
- twitter.com (4,635 visits)
- google.com (3,750 visits)
- t.co (3,570 visits)
Top News/Blog Referrers:
- slog.thestranger.com (3,008 visits)
- npr.org (2,553 visits)
- treehugger.com (1,524 visits)
- thestranger.com (1,418 visits)
- bikeportland.org (1,236 visits)
- copenhagenize.com (1,196 visits)
- andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com (1,192 visits)
- ibiketo.ca (659 visits)
- prollyisnotprobably.com (642 visits)
- road.cc (555 visits)
Top Visitor Countries:
- United States (101,765 visits)
- Canada (43,452 visits)
- United Kingdom (13,677 visits)
- Australia (6,025 visits)
- Spain (5,463 visits)
- India (3,654 visits)
- Netherlands (3,627 visits)
- Germany (3,576 visits)
- Brazil (1,499 visits)
- South Korea (1,358 visits)
- Firefox (73,641 visits)
- Chrome (56,203 visits)
- Internet Explorer (34,228 visits)
- Safari (30,263 visits)
- Mozilla Compatible Agent (7,697 visits)
- Opera (2,825 visits)
- Android Browser (1,700 visits)
- Opera Mini (268 visits)
Most Bizarre/Funny Search Keywords:
- poop (84 visits)
- mature porn (52 visits)
- freematureporn (34 visits)
- how do nascar drivers pee (34 visits)
- thong blog (31 visits)
- do bicycles have to stop at stop signs (30 visits)
- mature homemade (13 visits)
- cyclists are idiots toronto (12 visits)
- human poop (8 visits)
- fat asian kid on a bike (6 visits)
Looking forward to 2012 and beyond, I have a few things in the works. First of all I will be doing some travelling from January until May and hope to add some international content to the blog during my travels. I will spend most of the time in China, but I’m also planning to visit Tibet, the Philippines, and the Netherlands.
When I return to Toronto in May I am planning to continue doing talks on bicycle transportation to discuss the benefits and how we can achieve a higher rate of cycling.
I am also planning to bring bi-weekly podcasts to The Urban Country to discuss transportation, cycling and politics. I’m working with a brilliant advocate/recent friend Ben who is planning to take this on in 2012. We will start with one or two pilots and get your feedback to shape the show.
In 2012 I am planning to write a short e-book that might end up with the same title as my presentation: “Rethinking Transportation: How the bicycle can save our cities and ourselves”. If readers find the ebook interesting I would like to explore the possibility of doing a longer version book on a similar topic beyond 2012.
Lastly, I had a dream about making a documentary to uncover the car culture that is growing in China and the destruction it is causing in China. I don’t know how much will happen on this initiative in 2012, but I will keep my camera rolling during my travels this winter anyway.
Happy 2012 to all of you and your families!