23 Biking Statistics You Won't Believe

Ryan the authorResearch by Aaron
Updated: August 27, 2019

As a society we know that we are much less active than we were in previous generations. We're increasingly dependent on technology, and many of us don't spend enough time connecting with the outdoors. 

However, biking is one of the outdoor activities that has withstood the test of time. Today it's the third most popular outdoor activity in the US and has a new, increasing appeal in today's generation. People are looking for ways to get active again, find alternate means of transportation and reduce their impact on the government. 

Here's a breakdown of the popularity of biking, how safety affects the popularity of driving and how the activity is approached differently across demographics. 

Biking Trends


1. How many people ride bikes in the US? 

Road and mountain biking is the third most popular outdoor activity in the US with 47.5 million people taking at least one ride per year, or 16 percent of the population. The only two outdoor activities that are more popular are running/jogging and fishing.

2. How often do people ride their bikes?

Among all outdoor activities, city and mountain biking has the second most participation by people in the US. The average cyclist rides their bike 48 times per year, amounting to 2.3 billion total bike rides per year. The only outdoor activity that people participate in more often is running and jogging.

3. Are people biking more or less over the last 20 years?

People are riding bikes much more in recent years, particularly for commuting. The number of trips made by bike more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009.

4. Are more people commuting by bike than in the past?

More people are looking for alternate means of travel, and many cities are focusing on creating safer environments for bike riders on streets. From 1990 to 2009, the number of bike commuters increased by 64%.

5. How are bike share programs affecting bike riding in the US?

Bike shares accounted for a total of 35 million trips in 2017, a 25 percent increase from 2016.

6. What areas of the country bike the most? 

Western states have the highest level of biking, while southern states have the least. Despite northern states having colder climates and a cold winter season, biking levels are higher in these states. 

7. How many Americans have access to a bike?

The single most reported obstacle to riding a bike is concerns about traffic. Second to that is access to a working bike. Only 52% of Americans reported they had a functioning bike available to them.

8. How many bikes are sold each year in the US? 

In 2015, the US sold 17.4 million bicycles. This number is relatively flat over the last 20 years, with the peak being in 2000 with 20.9 million bikes sold, and the low in 2009 with 14.9 million sold. 

Biking Demographics


9. What's the trend among female bike riders?

The number of women cycling decreased by 13 percent between 2000 and 2010, except among those who are enthusiasts. The number of women who ride 110 days or more per year increased by 8 percent during the same period. That's about 30% of days throughout the year, likely meaning at least part of their riding was for fitness and exercise.

10. Which income groups bike the most?

People with incomes under $20,000 and over $100,000 per year are more likely to have ridden a bike in the last 12 months than the other income groups. However, lower income groups tend to use their bike for commuting, while higher income individuals use their bike for leisure and trips more often.

11. How does bike riding participation differ among ethnic groups?

Biking is the second most popular outdoor activity for Hispanic and African Americans. It's the third most popular for Asian Americans and the fourth most popular outdoor activity for White Americans.

However, White Americans are more active in outdoor activities overall, and have the highest percentage of their population participating in biking each year at 16 percent. Only 10% of African Americans bike each year, while 15 percent of both Hispanic and Asian Americans bike each year.

12. How do fears of bike riding differ among ethnic groups? 

In a study of Portland residents, 100 percent of African Americans expressed a fear that drivers would be hostile toward them while they were cycling. In the same study, no Hispanic Americans expressed this same fear. 

13. How often do seniors ride a bike?

Between 1995 and 2009, bike trips by people ages 60-79 increased by 22 percent. Biking within this group quadrupled during this 14-year period, the fastest growth of any age group.

14. How popular is biking among youth in America?

Biking is the most popular outdoor activity among ages 6-17. In 2017, 24 percent of American youths rode a bike, or 12.5 million total participants. Overall, youth participation in outdoor activities is down down significantly. Among ages 6-12 outdoor activity participation is down from about 80 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2017.

City Biking


15. How safe do Americans feel riding on city streets?

While many cities are improving bike-friendliness by adding bike lanes and other safety measures, safety is still a primary concern for most. In a survey, 54 percent of Americans said fear of getting hit by a car held them back from riding a bike. 

16. How do separated bike lanes affect participation in bike riding?

Other than having access to a bike, safety is the biggest obstacle for biking participation. When surveyed, 46 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to ride a bike if they had access to a lane physically separated from traffic. 

17. How does the presence of bike lanes affect female biking?

Safety and the risks of biking in highly trafficed areas is a serious factor for women. In surveys, women have indicated that the presence of separated bike lanes would increase the likelihood that they bike ride more often. Nationally, about 25 percent of women in the US ride a bike at least once per year. In Minneapolis, that rate reached 37-45 percent (depending on the survey) after 37 miles of new bike lanes were added in 2011. 

18. What cities have shown the most success in creating a bike-friendly environment? 

Minneapolis has more than 100 miles of bikeways throughout its city. From 2010-2011, Minneapolis expanded its on-street bikeway network by 75 percent. From 2007-2011, biking participation increased 47 percent. 

Portland, Oregon had the highest rates of bike commuting at 6.1 percent, up from 1.8 percent in 2000. Minneapolis has increased its bike commuting rate fro 1.9 percent to 4.1 percent.

19. Why do people commute by bicycle? 

According to a survey of 2,400 cyclists, 95 percent ride for health and fitness, 82 percent say the environment is a factor, 52 percent are looking to avoid traffic congestion, 46 percent want to save money on gasoline and 34 percent want to avoid parking. 

20. How long is the average commute by bike? 

The median commute time for those who bike to work was about 19.3 minutes. This illustrates that proximity to work is a large factor in choosing alternative commute options. 

21. How have bike shares increase biking participation in other countries? 

The addition of dockless bike stations has increased bicycle's share of transportation mileage in Chinese cities from 5.5 percent to 11.6 percent. In Shenzen, the addition of 500,000 dockless bikes have cut automobile travel by 10 percent. 

23. How can biking help reduce our environmental impact and CO2 emissions? 

Cycling and e-biking can cut energy use and CO2 emissions or urban transportation by 10% by 2050, saving society trillions of dollars. This will be dependent on city policy, investment and public perception and participation.

Sources and References

  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Census Bureau
  • Outdoor Industry Association
  • Breakaway Research Group for People for Bikes
  • American Bicyclist Study
  • Minneapolis Public Works Department

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