Bike Commuting In a Motorized World [Infographic]



Everyone’s heard of the numerous health benefits that are associated with cycling. It is not only one of the easiest ways to exercise, but it’s one of the easiest (and cheapest) modes of transportation. But despite all the health and economic benefits bike commuting offers, surveys show that Americans don’t ride bikes as much as people from other developed countries. The infographic explores the three main factors that prevent bike commuting to become prevalent in the U.S.  

In 2014, only 34% of U.S. adults said they rode a bike at least once in the last year. That percentage shrinks down to 24% when asked whether they rode a bike more than six times in the last year. America’s infrastructure generally discourages cycling in favor of alternative modes of transportation. Bike lanes and cycletracks are not commonplace, making it more dangerous for cyclists because they have to share the roads with motorists.

NYC and Washington D.C. were the first two U.S. cities to invest in bike lanes because they wanted to incentivize cycling. Their efforts paid off since both cities saw their number of bike commuters double from 2008 to 2013. There was a 75% percentage increase of bicycle traffic in the first year of protected bike lanes. 96% of cyclists who used bike lanes felt safer sharing the road than they would have otherwise. In New York, streets with bike lanes saw a dramatic 40% drop in crashes for all road users, including motorists.

Safety concerns also contribute to being a major reason why Americans choose not to bike commute. Between fast moving traffic and road congestions, cyclists will have to deal with irresponsible drivers who could be too distracted to obey traffic laws.

America also happens to be far larger than the top cycling countries, which means it’s more difficult to bike to any given destination.

But despite its restrictions, the U.S. would still benefit greatly by investing more in the cycling industry. Automobiles cost societies and individuals six times more than bicycles do. There are other economic benefits that are notable as well. For example, in New York City, there was a 49% increase in retail sales on 9th avenue after the construction of a bike lane. Another example would be how residents of Portland, Oregon keep $800 million within their local economy just by driving 20% less than other cities.

The cycling industry in the U.S. is worth $6 billion, but the benefits are far larger. The U.S. has 60 million recreational cyclists who spend $46.9  billion on transportation, lodging, gifts, and entertainment. The “spill-over effect” of the cycling industry results in $133 billion in revenue, 1.1 million jobs and $17.7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.


  1. Steve

    Please can you tell me the source of the data for ‘Percentage of bike commuters in 18 countries’ ? Thank you

  2. Megan


    I was wondering if you could share your source for the “Percentage of Bike Commuters in 18 Countries, 2014” graph. I’m very interested in learning more about that data for a project. Thank you so much!

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