Many Americans have bikes at their disposal and go for a spin at least once a year, though few bike regularly for transportation, according to a survey [PDF] conducted by Breakaway Research Group for People for Bikes, the industry-backed advocacy organization. While most Americans want to bike more, 54 percent said that fear of getting hit by a car or truck holds them back.
The findings are important because solid information about Americans’ bicycling habits is hard to come by. The Census tracks only bike commuting — and commute trips are a relatively small share of total trips. The more detailed National Household Transportation Survey is conducted infrequently and has its own set of limitations.
The results of the People for Bikes survey echo Census data in some ways and reveal similar attitudes as local surveys (Portland famously found that 60 percent of residents are “interested but concerned” about biking in traffic), but the data is unusually broad and deep, and it includes some surprises.
The responses come from an online survey of 16,000 American adults, which was then weighted to correspond to national demographics. The respondents also answered questions about the biking habits of 9,000 children ages 3 to 18 who live in the same households. The survey controlled for positive response bias by eliminating participants who said they have visited a fictional website.
Here are the big findings.
About 100 million Americans bike each year, but only about 14 million bike at least twice a week
The study found that about 34 percent of Americans over the age of three rode a bike at least once in the last year. For adults over 18, the share was a slightly smaller 29 percent. But of everyone who bikes, less than half ride more than twice a month, and just 14 percent bike at least twice a week.
Slightly more than half the people who bike made only recreational trips. About 15 percent of Americans — or 45 million people — made at least one bicycle trip for transportation in the last year.
The biggest obstacles to riding
There’s a good deal of interest in biking among Americans, even from people who haven’t logged a trip in the past year. Of everyone surveyed, 53 percent said they would like to ride more often.