Most studies on cycling participation look at either recreational riding or transportation riding. A new study commissioned by People for Bikes looked at both, and the results were surprising.
About 34 percent of Americans over the age of three rode a bike at least once last year, according to the report. Velo News notes that’s much higher than similar reports, such as 2014 data from the National Sporting Goods Association, which puts bicycling participation at just 12 percent.
Yes, 34 percent is quite high, but the stat is tempered by the fact that respondents had to ride just once to be included.
As Bike Snob NYC put it, this “probably includes people who like to get drunk, go to Walmart, and joyride Kents through the seasonal decorations section.”
Other interesting findings from the People for Bikes report:
- Those who rode for transportation are much more likely to have done so to get to and from social, recreation and leisure activities (70 percent ) than to have commuted to work or school (46 percent).
- Almost half of adults don’t have access to an operational bike.
- Fifty-four percent of adults perceive bicycling as a convenient way to get from one place to another and 53 percent would like to ride more often. However, 52 percent worry about being hit by a car and 46 percent say they would be more likely to ride if bikes were physically separated from cars on a designated path or trail.
This last bit is striking. If cycling routes were perceived as safer, cycling participation would likely skyrocket. And we’re not talking about more carbon fiber speedsters – they’re already riding, and riding wherever there’s pavement.
“Infrastructure improvements will have the biggest impact on underserved populations such as young adults, females, and nonwhites,” the report says.
In other words, the untapped army of cyclists will come from the ranks of the young, the old, and basically anybody who’s not a white, middle-aged male.
Infrastructure like the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle and the Olympic Discovery Trail, particularly the section between Blyn and Port Angeles, fit the bill of a car-free paved path that connects to several destinations, including neighborhoods, commercial areas and parks.
In Kitsap, two ambitious trail plans are working their way toward becoming reality. There’s the Sound to Olympics Trail, which would start at Bainbridge Island’s ferry terminal and eventually cross the Agate Pass Bridge and North Kitsap. At the Hood Canal bridge, the STO would link to the Olympic Discovery Trail. The first leg of the STO should be finished this fall.
Kitsap County has a planned north-south route that would run nearly the length of the county, from Poulsbo to the borders of Pierce and Mason counties. Not much is happening with with this yet-to-be-named trail, but the county and Ueland Tree Farm have been working on an agreement to get the trail started just outside Bremerton.