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tl-w.gif (842 bytes)tr-w.gif (841 bytes)Adult Bicyclists in the U.S.

Used With Permission.

NOTICE: This a PRE-PRINT copy of paper 98-0009

presented at the Transportation Research Board

77th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 1998

Washington D.C.

Duplication of this preprint for publication or sale is strictly prohited

without written permission of the Transportation Research Board.

 

ADULT BICYCLISTS IN THE UNITED STATES -

CHARACTERISTICS AND RIDING EXPERIENCE IN 1996

William E. Moritz, Ph.D.

Professor (Emeritus)

Human Powered Transportation

Box 352500

University of Washington

Seattle WA USA 98195-2500

Revised March 30, 1998

ABSTRACT

In December, 1996, 20% (4712) of the League of American Bicyclist members were surveyed about their cycling experiences during CY 1996. The 33 questions included: bicycle type and equipment, distribution of bicycle trips by purpose (e.g. work, on-road recreation), total distance cycled, commuting habits, accidents, and demographic data. The survey was designed to update one done by Kaplan in 1975. By the March 31, 1997, deadline over 2400 (52%) had been returned. Of these 19% were rejected due to incompleteness or inconsistent responses leaving 1956 valid surveys. The 'average' respondent was a 48 year-old, married (66%) male (80%) professional (48%) who rode 4670 km in 1996. Just over 9% reported having had a serious crash (resulting in at least $50 of property damage or medical expense) in 1996. Based on the experience reported by these cyclists, the 'average' cyclist in this group could be expected to ride for 11 years before having such a crash. Falls accounted for 59% of the incidents while running into a fixed object happened 14% of the time. Moving motor vehicles were involved in 11% of the crashes and another bicycle in 9%. A RELATIVE DANGER INDEX is calculated which shows that streets with bike lanes have a significantly lower crash rate then either major or minor streets without any bicycle facilities (38 and 56% respectively). Multi-use trails have a crash rate about 40% greater than would be expected based on the miles cycled on them while cycling on the sidewalk is extremely dangerous.

KEYWORDS: Adult bicycling, Bicycle crash experience

 

ADULT BICYCLISTS IN THE UNITED STATES -

CHARACTERISTICS AND RIDING EXPERIENCE IN 1996

William E. Moritz, Ph.D.

Professor (Emeritus)

Human Powered Transportation

Box 352500

University of Washington

Seattle WA USA 98195-2500

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

The decade of the 1990's has seen a revival of interest in bicycling for recreation, health, and transportation. Adults as well as children continue to enjoy the fun of cycling. Public health officials regularly extol the virtues of vigorous aerobic exercise that can be easily obtained on a bike. And in many of our urban areas we are experiencing ever increasing traffic congestion which is motivating some travelers to use their bikes for commuting and utilitarian trips.

Over the past several years there have been various public policy initiatives that have raised the visibility of cycling at all levels of government. One example is the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 [ISTEA] (1) which mandates that cycling must be integrated into required transportation plans. Another example at the federal level is the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 where non-attainment areas are required to develop specific plans to achieve compliance with the Act. Substituting bicycling for automobile trips would contribute to reducing air pollution.

Growth management acts which link land use and transportation have been adopted in many parts of the country with the goal of containing urban sprawl. And commute trip reduction programs are attempting to reduce vehicle traffic volumes during the so-called 'rush hours.' While the average one-way commute trip is approximately 16 km in length, almost half of all trips are 5 km or less. Such distances are well within bicycling range for most adults in this country. (2)

Lastly, in 1994 the USDOT/FHWA released the National Bicycling and Walking Study which set a goal "to double the percentage of total trips made by bicycling and walking in the United States from 7.9 to 15.8 percent." (3)

Yet, in spite of all this interest, we know very little about the types of adults who cycle on a regular basis. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission made an attempt to publish such information in 1994. (4) This study reports the results of two surveys which unfortunately targeted different age groups and used different metrics to assess 'exposure' - perhaps better characterized as 'use' since respondents were asked to estimate the number of hours they rode.

In each of the past several years between 800 and 1000 bicyclists have been killed and hundreds-of-thousands have been injured in the U.S. (5) While fatalities are well documented, there is very little data concerning the far more frequent but less serious crashes typically experienced by cyclists. One glaring hole in the data is exposure information (e.g. crashes per kilometer) and thus the relative safety of various types of on- and off-road bicycle facilities is virtually unknown.

In 1975 Jerrold Kaplan conducted a national survey of adult cyclists who were members of the (then) League of American Wheelmen [LAW - now known as the League of American Bicyclists {LAB}]. (6) Kaplan's report attempted to not only develop a profile of 'regular' adult cyclists during calendar year 1974, but also to gather mileage information from which to calculate crash rates per mile - both by activity (e.g. recreation vs. commuting) and by facility type (e.g. major streets vs. 'bike paths'). His works stands alone in the literature yet is now quite dated.

Since over twenty years has elapsed since Kaplan's work, it was decided to update and expand Kaplan's survey. The present study added questions on mountain biking, for example, and included data on the perceived safety of bicycle facilities, an assessment of motorist's attitudes towards cyclist, formal bicycle safety training, and some information on commuting habits. Gathering and analyzing crash data was of particular interest.

 

SURVEY GOALS AND POPULATION

The goals of this survey were: 1. Gather detailed data on U.S. adults who cycle regularly; 2. Develop a demographic profile of these cyclists; 3. Analyze their crash experience in several ways; and 4. Compare these results with Kaplan's (and with a similar survey conducted in 1995 by this author of adults in Washington state involving 957 adult cyclists). (7)

Since a national sample was desired, it was decided to again use the membership of the LAB as was done in 1975. In 1975 the League had 8400+ member-households and each one received a survey. Kaplan achieved a response rate of about 38% which yielded a sample of 3270. By 1996 League membership had nearly tripled to about 23,500. Since many national surveys use a sample of about 1,000 it was clearly unnecessary to include all of the members.

 

STUDY METHODOLOGY

Selecting Potential Participants:

Kaplan's survey was distributed and returned along with a ballot for a Board election thus substantially reducing his mailing costs. No such opportunity existed presently. In light of the $6,500 available for the present project, a smaller sample had to be created.

One problem with simply selecting every n'th member was that several states had disproportionally large fractions of the membership when compared to 1990 U.S. Census data. (Note a similar problem existed in 1975 but that the geographic distribution of the membership has also changed markedly since then.)

It was decided to design a selection process that would: a) yield approximately 2,000 responses (assuming a 40+% response rate) and b) sample from each state in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population. As a result, 20% of the overall membership (4712) were selected. Individual state fractions ranged from as low as 6.5% for MA (which had 7.5% of the membership but represents only 2.4% of the U.S. population) to a high of 100% for MS (0.2% and 1.0% respectively). Within each state members were first sorted by ZIP code and then every m'th one was selected where m was designed to yield the desired number for that state. Table 1 presents the breakdown by state.

TABLE 1. Breakdown of sample by state.

STATE

COUNT

% MBRS

STATE

COUNT

% MBRS

STATE

COUNT

% MBRS

AK

10

15.4

KY

70

39.1

NY

341

19.2

AL

77

51.7

LA

80

46.0

OH

205

18.0

AR

45

84.9

MA

114

6.5

OK

60

51.3

AZ

69

19.4

MD

91

8.1

OR

54

19.2

CA

564

25.6

ME

23

18.4

PA

225

15.8

CO

62

11.7

MI

176

19.9

RI

19

20.9

CT

62

10.4

MN

83

19.8

SC

66

41.3

DC

12

9.0

MO

96

26.4

SD

13

48.1

DE

13

10.2

MS

49

100.0

TN

92

27.8

FL

245

26.2

MT

15

32.6

TX

322

41.5

GA

122

32.3

NC

126

30.1

UT

33

30.0

HI

21

34.4

ND

12

66.7

VA

117

12.1

IA

53

18.5

NE

30

25.6

VT

11

10.1

ID

19

32.2

NH

21

13.1

WA

92

15.8

IL

216

15.6

NJ

146

15.3

WI

93

19.2

IN

105

23.3

NM

29

18.8

WV

34

38.2

KS

47

18.8

NV

23

26.4

WY

9

24.3

Subtotal

   

Subtotal

   

Subtotal

   
         

GRAND

TOTAL

4712

 

 

Mailing and Retrieval:

The surveys were mailed on December 31, 1996, using first class postage to increase the likelihood of delivery and to be able to track the number that were undeliverable. A business reply panel was included to encourage responses. A deadline of March 31, 1997, was indicated. (Kaplan's were mailed in mid March, 1975, and the ballot and survey had to be returned by April 15 in order to be counted.)

Survey Format:

A printed survey was selected to minimize costs and to replicate the method used by Kaplan (and this researcher in the 1994 Washington study). Note that the survey was designed to be anonymous with the ZIP code the only possible means of identifying the respondent. [A copy of the survey is available from the author at the above address.]

The questions were designed to capture information similar to that gathered in the earlier surveys as well as ask additional questions. It was also laid out to facilitate data entry.

Period Covered:

Respondents were asked to report in their riding and experiences for calendar year 1996. (Kaplan covered calendar year 1974 while the Washington survey covered calendar year 1994.)

Qualifications to Participate:

The instructions asked that only current League members over the age of 15 respond. Further, if the household had more than one member, then the one who rode the most miles should fill it out. Both of these provisions duplicate those used by Kaplan. It should be noted that a couple of female cyclists sent notes complaining that those instructions discriminated against them because, while they were active cyclists, their male housemate cycled more than they did. It had been recognized in the design that these instructions might bias the sample toward men but this was the same approach used by Kaplan.

 

SURVEY DESIGN

Information was requested 4 areas:

A. About riding;

B. About commuting;

C. About safety and accidents; and

D. About the respondent.

A Comment space was provided at the end of the survey.

The most likely answers to multiple choice questions were provided and assigned numerical codes to facilitate data entry and analysis. YES/NO responses were entered as 1/0 respectively.

A. About Your Riding

The first 11 questions attempted to characterize the equipment they used, the amount spent on cycling during 1996, traffic law obedience, whether they rode mostly on weekends or weekdays and after dark or in the rain, and how long they have been riding. The final 5 questions dealt with the types of riding they did (trip purpose), the types of facilities used, total miles and hours ridden, and finally a question about how these cyclists perceive the motorists they share the road with.

B. Commuting by All Modes

Gathered commute trip information (mode, distance, time) as well as attempted to determine for those not usually bike commuting the most significant reason for that decision.

C. Safety/Accidents

One question sought their perception of the safety of various bicycle facilities. The remaining questions dealt with collisions or falls during 1996. Since many crashes experienced by cyclists do not result in significant injury or property damage, an attempt was also made to capture data on the more serious crashes. Note that Kaplan did not define what constitutes a 'serious' fall leaving it to the reader to decide. In the present survey (as well as the 1994 Washington one) a $50 threshold was established to reduce the ambiguity in that definition. The remaining questions attempted to characterize both serious and non-serious crashed by severity, activity, facility, and mode.

D. About You and Your Household

Five questions sought 'standard' demographic information (for example: age and sex). A question on bicycle safety training, if any, was also included. This was followed by a couple of questions about additional cyclists in the home, the number of bikes and motor vehicles available, and a question about their general health since they started cycling regularly. Finally, years of LAW/LAB membership and ZIP code were requested.

Comments

A space was provided for any additional information the respondent wished to provide.

 

RESPONSE RATE

The response was nothing short of phenomenal. Within 14 days 35% had been returned and 2 weeks later we were at 46%. At the deadline just over 2400 (nearly 52%) had responded while 74 had come back undeliverable. Return rates varied from 47% in New England to 65% in the Northwest.

 

SCREENING RESPONSES AND DATA ENTRY AND CHECKING

Each survey was checked for completeness and consistency. Approximately 5% (121/2403) were rejected because they were damaged beyond use, were incomplete (often one entire side was left blank), reported no riding in 1996, or failed to provide a breakdown of facilities use that totaled between 90 and 110%. This latter parameter was essential for the facilities crash analysis described below.

One problem with a survey of this type is assessing the validity of the responses since most cyclists do not keep records of their daily trips. Since there is no way to verify true accuracy, it was decided to at least require some level of internal consistency in the responses. For example, the sum of the miles ridden per month by trip purpose multiplied by the claimed number of months ridden should (ideally) equal to total miles reported. The range of errors encountered was -97% to +2345%. An acceptance range of +/-40% was selected which resulted in rejecting an additional 13.5% (326/2403).

As a result, 1956 surveys were included in the final data set and their responses entered into a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. Every entry was verified to be within bounds (e.g. months ridden between 1 and 12) and that all parts of multiple part questions were filled in (e.g. if a crash was indicated, then a responses must appear in several related questions dealing with the type of crash and facility upon which it occurred). Incomplete responses were removed.

 

ANALYSIS

Several types of analysis were applied to the final data set. Fractional responses were calculated for questions like bicycle type and equipment. For questions with numerical responses (e.g. years of regular cycling and age), the highest, average, median and lowest values were calculated. In some of these cases distributions were determined as well.

One of the major advantages of this type of study (in which users report distances ridden and crash experience) is the opportunity to determine crash rates (the number of crashes divided by the distance ridden in CY 1996). In addition, the crash rates and characteristics of various sub-populations (e.g. males vs. females) can be evaluated. Finally, the crashes can be tabulated by activity, facility used, and nature of the crash.

Another way of looking at crashes vs. facilities is to divide the fraction of crashes reported for a particular facility by the fraction of kilometers ridden on that facility type. The resulting number, here called the RELATIVE DANGER INDEX (RDI), would be 1.0 if crashes occurred in proportion to the distance traveled. An RDI greater than 1.0 indicates a facility on which crashes occur at a higher rate then would be expected based simply on distance. RDI is thus a convenient way to compare various facilities.

 

RESULTS

In the material that follows, the Washington State survey results will be referred to as WA 94 and Kaplan's results as LAW 74. Where comparable data exists in WA 94 and the LAW 74 surveys, those results will be shown as [WA 94 / LAW 74] immediately following the present results. If no such comparable data exists a dash ( - ) will appear. Space simply does not permit a full presentation of the results for all three studies.

Demographics

The 'average' respondent was a 48 [45/38] year-old, married (66%) [62%/-] male (80%) [74%/88%] professional (48%) [48%/-] with a college degree (80%) [81%/-]. More than 53% [46%/-] reported a household income in excess of $60K/year. Just under 4% [1%/5%] reported not owning a motor vehicle and of those 90% [-/-] said they did so by choice. The average household had two or more cyclists [2 or more/-], two or more motor vehicles [2 or more/2 or more], and 4.4 [3.7/-] bikes.

Figure 1, showing the age distribution for the 3 surveys, graphically demonstrates that the two more recent studies involve substantially older cyclists. Most notable is the large decrease in the fraction of respondents in the 16-35 age groups in these surveys.

Figure 1. Distribution of respondent’s ages.

 

Over 75% [-/-] reported that their general physical health had improved either greatly or somewhat since they started cycling regularly while less than 1% thought their health had deteriorated (expect by age alone - 7%).

About Their Cycling

Road (49%) [42%/-] and touring (21%) [25%/-] bikes were used most often with mountain bikes at 12% [15%/-]. (NOTE: LAW 74's bike type question dealt with the number of speeds - 1, 3, 5+ - and thus is not comparable.) The majority of this group and the WA 94 sample were well equipped reporting using or carrying: mirrors, computers, panniers, pumps, spare tubes, and tools. Helmets were reportedly worn on every ride by 88%. For LAW 74, 31% reported owning a helmet while for the WA 94 group helmet, ownership was 99.9%. Neither of these surveys asked about helmet use.

Their cycling was evenly split between weekends (52%) [51%/54%] and weekdays (48%) [50%/46%]. Nearly half (47%) [35%/35%] never ride after dark while only 15% [5%/24%] never ride in the rain. The average respondent has been cycling regularly for 14.2 years and claims to have ridden 9 months in 1996. [Both WA 94 and LAW 74 binned experience into ranges with the following results: <1 year: 4%/3%; 1-4 years: 25%/48%; 5-10 years: 33%/28%; greater than 10 years: 39%/20%.]

On-road recreation was reported by 93% [84%/84%] while 41% [41%/48%] claimed to have used their bikes for utility purposes and 38% [52%/49%] did at least some work or school travel by bike in 1996 [1994/1974]. Thirty-five percent (35%) [20%/-] claimed to have mountain biked as well. Table 2 shows this data as well as the maximum and average monthly distances claimed for each trip purpose. Note the averages are calculated over the entire sample population (1956 respondents) not just those reporting a particular type of trip.

The facility on which the most kilometers were ridden was minor streets without bike facilities (45%) [44%/58%] while 32% [26%/35%] of the kilometers were on major streets (again without bike facilities). Bike routes, bike lanes, and multi-use trails each accounted for 6-7%. (In WA 94 and LAW 74 signed bike routes and bike laned streets were combined with 12%/3% of the kilometers reported while multi-use trails had 17%/4%.) Off-road/unpaved facilities were 4% [2%/-]. An "Other" category appears in the present study and nearly all responses indicated this meant sidewalks. They accounted for just 0.3% of the kilometers ridden.

Total cycling kilometers in 1996 were 9,160,000 [4,185,000/12,171,000] for an average of 4670 [4370/3760] per cyclist. One hearty soul claimed to have pedaled 38,700 [35,500/>16,000] kilometers while the lowest distance reported was 160 [50/-] km.

TABLE 2. Trip purposes and monthly distances cycled for each type of trip.

Trip Purpose

LAB 96

WA 94

LAW 74

Work/School
Maximum kilometers

1667

1050

N/A

Average kilometers

78

113

92

Fraction of kilometers

15%

24%

22%

% reporting this trip purpose

38%

51%

49%

Shopping/Personal Business
Maximum kilometers

1333

667

N/A

Average kilometers

22

22

27

Fraction of kilometers

4%

5%

6%

% reporting this trip purpose

41%

41%

48%

Road Recreation + Exercise for WA 94/LAW 74
Maximum kilometers

2500

1500

N/A

Average kilometers

330

242

277

Fraction of kilometers

64%

51%

66%

% reporting this trip purpose

93%

84%

84%

Mountain Biking Recreation
Maximum kilometers

667

667

N/A

Average kilometers

23

12

N/A

Fraction of kilometers

5%

2%

N/A

% reporting this trip purpose

35%

20%

N/A

Road Racing
Maximum kilometers

3333

1000

N/A

Average kilometers

35

20

27

Fraction of kilometers

7%

4%

6%

% reporting this trip purpose

9%

7%

9%

Mountain Bike Racing
Maximum kilometers

347

333

N/A

Average kilometers

2

1

N/A

Fraction of kilometers

0%

0%

N/A

% reporting this trip purpose

3%

2%

N/A

TOTAL FRACTION KILOMETERS

96%

86%

100%

 

Figure 2 presents the distribution of annual cycling distance reported in the 3 surveys. Most notable here is that the present cyclists appear to be cycling more each year than 20 years ago.

Figure 2. Distribution of annual cycling distances ridden.

 

Women had been cycling regularly an average of 12.4 years compared to 14.6 for men and reported somewhat smaller number of months ridden (8.7 vs. 9.6). Women's responses to distances traveled and trip purposes (as is depicted for the entire sample in Table 2) were very similar to men's except for the Road Racing category. Here only 4% reported engaging in this activity vs. 10% for the men and the fraction of kilometers were 3% vs. 8%. Finally, average cycling distance in 1996 was about 4,300 km for women vs. 5,000 for the men.

Commuting

Only 53% [56%/-] reported commuting to work or school and of those 51% [41%/-] did so most often by car. Bicycle commuting was the next highest mode at 29% [40%/-]. Average one-way commute distances and times were 17 [17/-] km and 27 [38/-] minutes. Needing a car at work, dangerous roads, distance, and lack of facilities at work/school were the most often cited reasons for not bike commuting for the present sample. For the WA 94 group, time, weather, and distance were most often cited. LAW 74 did not ask about commuting.

 

Crashes - Minor vs. Serious

Twenty-nine percent (29%) [32%/26%] reported having had some type of 'accident' in the study year. Just over 9% [10%/21%] reported having had a serious crash (resulting in at least $50 of property damage or medical expense) in 1996 [1994/1974]. (Recall that LAW 74 left it to the reader to decide what was a 'serious' crash which might explain their significantly higher response to that question.)

Those reporting a serious crash had an average of 1.2 [1.2/1.2] such crashes during the year. Only 28% [27%/-] of such crashes were reported to the police. Such crashes resulted in average and median medical expenses of: $2,970 [$884/-] and $155 [$150/-] respectively. The maximum total medical expense reported was $250,000 [$17,500/-] but no details were provided by that respondent. Clearly such an amount will exert a strong upward bias on the average.

For reported property damage in serious crashes, the average and median expenses were: $316 [$384/-] and $100 [$130/-]. The maximum total property damage was $5,000 [$5,000/-].

A slightly higher fraction of women reported having a serious crash than men - 11% vs. 9% - and their serious crash rates were also slightly higher - 29 vs. 22 per million kilometers. In most other respects the crash results for both sexes were comparable.

Crashes - Modality

For all crashes falls accounted for 59% [48%/41%] with running into a fixed object being the next most frequent at 14% [17%/'Other':11%]. Moving motor vehicles were involved in 11% [11%/18%] and another bicycle in 9% [13%/17%] of all crashes regardless of severity . See Table 3.

TABLE 3. Collision or fall modality for all (serious and minor) crashes.

LAB 96

WA 94

LAW 75

No other object - simple fall

59%

48%

41%

Moving motor vehicle

11%

11%

18%

Stationary motor vehicle

1%

1%

4%

Bicycle

9%

13%

17%

Pedestrian

2%

2%

1%

Animal

3%

1%

8%

Fixed object

14%

17%

N/A

Other

1%

7%

11%

Non-reported

N/A

1%

N/A

TOTAL

100%

101%

100%

For serious crashes, falls remain the leading type at 38% with moving motor vehicles (24%) the next most frequent type while a fixed object and another bicycle each accounted for 13%.

Crashes - Activity

For all three studies the most frequently reported activity at the time of the most recent crash was on-road recreation (54% [60%/64%]). This is not surprising given that most of the kilometers ridden were for recreation. For serious crashes in the present study that fraction increases to 62%. Interestingly, while off-road mountain biking is involved in 20% of all crashes, for non-serious crashes it jumps to 27% while on-road recreation drops to 48% for these less serious crashes.

Crashes - Facility

Table 4 presents the fraction of crashes by facility type along with crash rates per million km. Note again that in WA 94 and LAW 74 bike routes and bike laned streets were combined into a single category. Minor streets are by far the most likely place for a bicycle crash but this should not be surprising since, as noted above, these facilities are used most heavily by these cyclists. The table also reveals that the more serious crashes are more likely to happen on major streets without bike facilities and that off-road/unpaved trails are the scene of about one-quarter of the minor crashes. (Note that ‘Population’ under LAB 96 refers to the entire data sample and is analogous to the WA 94 and LAW 74 data.)

Of additional interest is the experience of these cyclists (and indeed those in the two earlier studies) on streets either signed as a bike route or having bike lanes. Crash rates on these facilities are significantly lower than all other facility types.

Table 5 presents the RELATIVE DANGER INDEX (described above) for each facility type and all three studies. The RDI makes it easy to grasp the likelihood of experiencing a crash on the various facilities relative to the kilometers cycled on each facility and for comparing the facilities to one another. {NOTE: A common misconception is that LAW 74 concluded that streets with bike lanes were less safe than streets without bike facilities. This is untrue. See Table 13, page 76 of Kaplan (6).}

Table 5 suggests that virtually all facilities have become "safer" since 1974. Several factors may be responsible. In 1974 multi-use trails and bike lanes were much less prevalent and often poorly designed. The 1996 group is older and has significantly more years of cycling experience. Thus they may just be safer cyclists able to better handle a variety of road conditions. Major roads without bike facilities may have better shoulders or wider outside lanes today than 20 years ago. It is interesting that the performance of minor street has remained very consistent over time.

TABLE 4. Crashes by facility type.

LAB 96

WA 94

LAW 74

Serious

Minor

Population

Fraction of crashes on:
Major w/o bike facilities

29%

17%

21%

20%

35%

Minor w/o bike facilities

41%

43%

42%

43%

54%

Signed bike route only (BR)

6%

2%

3%

N/A

N/A

On-street bike lanes (BL)

4%

2%

2%

N/A

N/A

On-street bike fac (BR or BL)

N/A

N/A

N/A

7%

2%

Multiuse trail

8%

9%

9%

18%

10%

Off road/unpaved

8%

23%

18%

13%

N/A

Other (most often 'sidewalk')

5%

4%

5%

1%

N/A

Totals

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

Crash rates per million kilometers
Major w/o bike facilities

41

69

71

Minor w/o bike facilities

59

82

65

Signed bike route only (BR)

32

N/A

N/A

On-street bike lanes (BL)

26

N/A

N/A

On-street bike fac (BR or BL)

N/A

38

36

Multiuse trail

88

91

181

Off road/unpaved

282

590

N/A

Other (most often 'sidewalk')

1026

N/A

N/A

TABLE 5. Facility Relative Danger Index - RDI

 

LAB 96

WA 94

LAW 74

Major w/o bike facilities

0.66

0.75

1.00

Minor w/o bike facilities

0.94

0.98

0.92

Signed bike route only (BR)

0.51

N/A

N/A

On-street bike lanes (BL)

0.41

N/A

N/A

On-street bike fac (BR or BL)

N/A

0.54

0.53

Multiuse trail

1.39

1.03

2.71

Off-road/unpaved

4.49

8.58

N/A

Other (most often ‘sidewalk’)

16.34

N/A

N/A

 

DISCUSSION

The respondents to all three of these studies are clearly U.S. adults who frequently use bicycles for recreation and transportation and who could be called bicyclists rather than just people who occasionally ride a bike. While these results are not representative of the general adult population, they do suggest what adults in this country are capable of. While a small fraction of this group engages in competitive cycling (road {9%}and off-road racing {3%}), the vast majority are primarily recreational riders.

While the upward shift in the age distribution since LAW 74 might be cause for some concern about the future of cycling in the U.S., it is also encouraging that more than half of this sample are over 45 years of age. The large fraction of respondents who are professionals and who report relatively high household incomes also indicate that serious cycling is not just the province of 'poor college students' with few transportation options. By the way, they reported spending an average of $1,100 dollars in 1996 on cycling which, in many locales also generated some sales tax revenue to the states and local governments.

These cyclists ride year-round, after dark and in the rain. They wear helmets at a very high rate compared to the general cycling population.

When the crash experiences are combined with the average distance cycled, the 'average' cyclist in this group could be expected to ride for 11 [6/14] years before having a crash.

 

CONCLUSION

This survey provides a snap-shot of the cycling habits of adults across the U.S. who cycle on a regular basis. In many ways this study is unique in that it acquired data from which to derive crash rates based on distance. Given that the sample was constructed to gather responses from across the country, and did so, its results should be of interest to a wide range of public and private groups.

Additional analysis will be performed on the data including looking at the effect of such parameters as age, miles-ridden-per-year, total years of cycling experience, and those reporting a crash to those who did not.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This work was partially funded through grants from the Cascade Bicycle Club/Seattle and the American Society of Civil Engineers (Human Powered Transportation Committee). The League of American Bicyclists provided a copy of their membership list. David Messerschmidt assisted in the data entry. This project is being carried out by the Human Powered Transportation program at the University of Washington and Bike-Ed, a consulting company specializing in non-motorized transportation and cyclist education.

REFERENCES

1. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, Public Law 102-240, December 1991.

2. Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey 1990, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, USDOT, Washington, DC.

3. Zeeger, Charlie et al, Final Report, The National Bicycling and Walking Study. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA-PD-94-023). 1994

4. Rodgers, Gregory et al, Bicycle Use and Hazard Patterns in the United States. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. June 1994.

5. Traffic Safety Facts - 1994, USDOT/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. August 1995.

6. Kaplan, Jerrold, Characteristics of the Regular Adult Bicycle User. FHWA, 1975. (NTIS Document PB 258-399)

7. Moritz, William E., Regular Adult Bicyclists in Washington State. ASCE Transpor-

tation Congress, San Diego. 1995.

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