Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Bicycling participation among Americans is substantially greater than initially thought, according to a new study released Monday.
The U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report, commissioned by PeopleForBikes, indicates that 34 percent of Americans age three or older rode a bike at least once in 2014. For comparison, the same study found that 40 percent of Americans ran or jogged outside last year.
Previous studies had pegged U.S. bicycling participation much lower. The 2014 National Sporting Goods Association data indicated a bicycling participation rate of only 12 percent.
“We’re happy and excited about the methodology, because frankly we’ve always been frustrated with existing traditional bicycle participation reports,” said Tim Blumenthal, PeopleForBikes’ president. “They would either focus on recreational riding, or some, like the U.S. census, exclusively on transportation riding, and this one is comprehensive.
“This gives us a platform, a base, from which we can ask the same questions again and again over time and determine trends and have confidence in the findings.”
Fifty-seven percent of those who rode a bike last year did so for recreation.
However, the study also found that 48 percent of U.S. adults do not have access to a bike at home, and 52 percent worry about being hit by a car while riding.
“A lot of Americans ride bikes, but unfortunately from our point of view, most or many only ride occasionally,” Blumenthal said. “Thirty percent rode five days or less, and a pretty big number rode only once in the last year.
“There’s tons of potential. If we can address the concerns of those millions of people, a lot more people are going to ride bikes, and that’s going to be good for the business, good for safety, and good for the country.”
The research was commissioned by PeopleForBikes and conducted by Breakaway Research Group, which surveyed 16,193 U.S. adults for the study.