2011 Update on U.S. Bicycling Levels and Trends
Rutgers University professor John Pucher and his team analyzed the most recent data available on bicycling levels, trends, and policies in North America. In their two papers, available below, they provide the following conclusions:
- During the past two decades, cycling has increased in the United States. The number of bike commuters rose by 64% from 1990 to 2009.
- Bicycling for transportation is making up a growing share of all bicycling, increasing from 43% of all bike trips in 2001 to 54% in 2009. While bicycling for recreation is a declining share of all trips, it still has a higher bike mode share than other trip purposes.
- Bicycling is growing the fastest in large cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, and Portland, OR—at least doubling since 1990. These cities have seen a boom in bicycling because they have consciously worked to grow bicycling. Cities, like Portland, that have implemented a comprehensive range of efforts, including infrastructure, programs, and policies to promote cycling are seeing the best results; in Portland, cycling levels grew six-fold.
- In those large cities, bicycling growth is highly concentrated in central cities, but it is still very low in most suburbs.
- Western states have the highest bicycling rates, while southern states have extremely low levels of bicycling.
- Almost all of the growth in bicycling in the U.S. over the past two decades has been among men between 25-64 years old.
- Cycling fatalities fell by 21% in the U.S. from 1998 to 2008.
- Bicycling rates don't very much by income level, but bicycling purposes do. Low-income persons bike mainly for utilitarian purposes, and high-income persons bike more for recreation and exercise.
- Bicycling is becoming more diverse. Between 2001 and 2009, cycling rates rose fastest among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. Those three groups also account for a growing share of all bike trips, rising from 16% in 2001 to 21% in 2009.
- Over the past decade, there has been a large increase in funding for bicycling.
"Analysis of Bicycling Trends and Policies in Large North American Cities," Pucher, J., and Buehler, R., March 2011
"Bicycling Renaissance in North America?," Pucher, J., et al., 2011, Transportation Research A, Vol. 45, in press