PeopleForBikes Reveals How Americans Really Use Bicycles

The report looks at ridership and all types of cycling use by the general American population.

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Photo courtesy of PeopleForBikes

Photo courtesy of PeopleForBikes

In 2014, PeopleForBikes commissioned Breakaway Research Group (BRG) to undertake a comprehensive survey of bicycling participation rates in the general American population. Jennifer Boldry, PhD and principal of BRG, conducted a total of 16,193 interviews with adults 18+ who also reported on 8,858 children ages 3-17. The resulting report, US Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report, is the first report of its kind measuring bicycling participation rates for all types of cycling and all types of riders in the US.

In the category of cycling for transportation, there is one perhaps surprising finding. While the focus of cycling for transportation in North America is most often on individuals riding to and from work, this new report reveals something else. Of the survey respondents who rode for transportation, 70 percent did so to get to and from social, recreational, or leisure activities, compared to 46 percent who rode to and from work or school. This significant gap is indicative of a shift in American attitudes towards cycling, where bikes are no longer perceived just as recreational toys or as a tool to get to work, but are viable and practical transportation options for all of the day’s activities.

Among other highlights in the report were attitudes towards cycling for transportation and perceptions of cycling’s safety. While 54 percent of those surveyed perceived bicycling as a convenient mode of transportation and 53 percent stated that they would like to ride more often, 52 percent responded that they worry about being hit by a driver. A full 46 percent of respondents stated that they would be more likely to ride a bike if they were physically separated from motor vehicles. These results should serve as a crucial reminder to policymakers and planners about the importance of barrier-protected bike lanes in increasing urban cycling rates.

The report also examined American attitudes towards biking, numbers and demographics of people riding bikes in the US, and general trends in cycling participation, allowing advocates and policymakers alike the ability to accurately track and measure American cycling over time. The full report is available here.

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