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How many bicycles are sold each year? Why do people ride? What are the numbers on bicycling crashes? Find answers to these and other questions by clicking on the links below.

How many people ride bikes?
Other national transportation-related surveys that include bicycling
Why do people ride?
How many bicycles are sold each year?
How many cyclists are killed and injured each year?
Who is involved in bicycle crashes?
What is the economic cost of crashes involving bicyclists?
How many bicycles are stolen each year?
What is the potential to increase bicycle use?
How safe do people feel bicycling?
How much has been spent by the Federal Government on improving conditions for bicycling?
Random Numbers

How many people ride bikes?

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has recently initiated a series of monthly, transportation-related national surveys. In August, September, and October of 2000, approximately one-in-five adults (41.3 million) in the United States reported using a bicycle in the last 30 days. Of those people, 22 percent (9.2 million) used their bicycle on more than 10 of the previous 30 days.

Total riding 41,342,000 20 percent of national sample
1-2 days 15,656,267 38%
3-5 days 10,915,474 26%
6-10 days 5,557,907 13%
plus 10 days 9,212,711 22%

The number of people using their bicycles in the last 30 days fell to 14 percent (29 million) in December and to 10 percent (19 million) in January and February of 2001.

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Other national transportation-related surveys that include bicycling:

United States Census, 1990:
Percentage of journeys to work by bicycle: 0.4% (466,856 people)

Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 1995:

Percentage of trips: 0.7% (approximately 3 billion miles, and 9 million daily bicycle trips)

National Sporting Goods Association, 1999:
Number of people aged seven and older who participated more than once: 42.4 million.

Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, 1998:
People aged six and older who participated at least once in recreational bicycling: 54.6 million

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Why do people ride?

The BTS survey found that in October 2000, of the 41 million people riding bicycles the majority reported doing so for recreation (54 percent) and exercise (35 percent). Seven percent (2.9 million people) reported commuting to work by bicycle as the primary use of the bicycle during the previous 30 days.

Similar numbers can be found in the:

Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 1995 Purpose of Bicycle Trips:
Earning a living 8% (compared to 20.3% for all modes)
Personal/Family business 22% (compared to 45.9% for all modes)
Social/Recreational 60% (compared to 24.9% for all modes)
School/church/civic 9% (compared to 8.8% for all modes)

National Sporting Goods Association, Purpose of Bicycle Trips:
Commuting 10%
Recreation 82%
Fitness 26%
Racing 1%

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How many bicycles are sold each year?

Figures compiled by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News from a variety of sources show that in 1998 16.1 million bicycles were sold in the United States, of which 11.2 million were "adult" bicycles with wheels greater than 20 inches. In recent years the number of adult bicycles sold (millions) has been:

Year Adult Child Total
1998 11.2 4.9 16.1
1997 11.0 4.8 15.8
1996 10.9 4.6 15.5
1995 12.0 4.0 16.0
1994 12.5 4.2 16.7
1993 13.0 4.0 17.0
1992 11.6 3.8 15.4
1991 11.6 3.5 15.1
1990 10.8  

The Bicycle Market Research Institute estimates the total value of the overall US bicycle market has grown from $3.6 billion in 1990 to $5.6 billion in 1998.

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How many cyclists are killed and injured each year?

In 1999, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 750 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles and 51,000 were injured. These numbers represent 2 percent of the total number of people killed and injured in traffic crashes. In recent years, the number of fatalities has remained around the 800 mark:

Year Fatalities Injuries
1999 750 51,000
1998 760 53,000
1997 814 58,000
1996 765 59,000
1995 833 61,000
1994 802  
1993 816 68,000
1992 723  
1991 843  
1990 859  

However, a significant number of bicycle crashes requiring emergency room treatment are not included in these reported fatalities and injuries. Studies indicate that as few as ten percent of injury crashes are reported to the police as they do not involve a motor vehicle, and/or do not happen on the roadway. Indeed, a recent Federal Highway Administration study found that 70 percent of bicycle injury events in emergency rooms did not involve a motor vehicle and 31 percent of bicyclists were injured in non-roadway locations. The number of bicyclists visiting hospital emergency rooms is estimated to be in excess of 500,000 per year.

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Who is involved in bicycle crashes?

In 1999, the average age of cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles was 32.4 years, up from 24.2 years in 1989. Most of those killed in 1999 were male (88 percent) and between the ages of 5 and 44 (72 percent).

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What is the economic cost of crashes involving bicyclists?

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that the economic cost of each person killed in a traffic crash to be $3,368,615 (1999 dollars). Multiplying this number by the 750 bicyclists killed in 1999 totals a staggering $2.5 billion. (Source: The Costs of Highway Crashes, 1991.)

The study also calculates the costs per crash for selected crash types. In 1999 dollars, the cost per crash involving a bicyclist was $116,065. Multiplying this number by the 51,000 reported injury crashes in 1999 totals $5.9 billion.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a similar report documenting the costs of crashes, but does not include the cost of "pain, suffering and lost quality of life" in their calculation. NHTSA estimates the cost of a fatality to be $933,000 and a serious injury to be $790,000.

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How many bicycles are stolen each year?

In 1999, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported 7 million "larceny/thefts" of which 4.7 percent (approx. 330,000) were bicycle thefts. The average value of a stolen bicycle was estimated at $338, giving a total estimated loss due to bicycle thefts of approximately $112 million. The National Bike Registry estimates that the FBI only hears about one-third of the bicycles stolen each year.

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What is the potential to increase bicycle use?

In 1995, Parkwood Research Associates conducted a survey for Rodale Press in which respondents were asked what their current primary means of travel was, and "all things being equal, and if good facilities for each existed, which of these means would you prefer the most"? The percentage of people bicycling and walking rose from 5 percent to 13 percent while the percentage of people driving alone fell from 76 percent to 56 percent. (Source: Pathways for People, Rodale Press)

The survey also asked participants who had ridden in the last year, "do you think you would sometimes commute to work by bicycle, or commute more often if:

There were more safe bikes on roads and highways? Yes, 39 percent
There were showers, lockers and secure bike storage at work? Yes, 36 percent
There were financial or other incentives from your employer? Yes, 36 percent
There were safe, separate designated bike paths? Yes, 40 percent

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How safe do people feel bicycling?

The Omnibus Survey completed for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in August 2000 asked all respondents how safe they felt using different modes of transport. When asked how safe they felt

"Riding a bicycle in or near traffic", the answers were:
30 percent felt Very Unsafe
28 percent felt Unsafe
24 percent were Neutral
8 percent felt Safe
10 percent felt Very Safe

"Driving or riding on the nation's highways", the answers were:
8 percent felt Very Unsafe
10 percent felt Unsafe
37 percent were Neutral
23 percent felt Safe
21 percent felt Very Safe

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How much has been spent by the Federal Government on improving conditions for bicycling?

In the years before passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, Federal spending on bicycling and walking facilities was approximately $4-6 million per annum. Since then, spending of Federal funds by States has grown to more $296 million in FY 2000.

Year Obligation (in millions)
2000 $296
1999 $204
1998 $217
1997 $238.7
1996 $197.2
1995 $178.6
1994 $112.6
1993 $33.6
1992 $22.9
1991 $17.9
1990 $6.6
1989 $5.4
1988 $4.9

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Random Numbers

Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey

The average commute trip (for all modes) has increased from 8.5 miles in 1983 to 11.6 miles in 1995; but 44 percent of commute trips are still five miles or less

More than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by car, passenger van, SUV, pick-up truck or other truck/RV. 1.3 percent of trips of five miles or less are made by bicycle.

Approximately 75 percent of trips one mile or less are made by motor vehicle.

8 million households have no access to a car. 19 million households have three or more vehicles.

Support for bicycling and walking

A 1997 survey of US voters found strong support for Federal funding for bicycling. The survey, by Lake, Sosin, Snell and Associates for the Bikes Belong! campaign found that:

64 percent of voters support using money from Federal gasoline taxes for things like bike trails, bike lanes and sidewalks; 25 percent "strongly support" this. Even a majority of those who do not ride bikes support this statement.

79 percent of voters described as "convincing" the message that "bike trails and lanes are important to creating safe communities for our children", including 46 percent who found this "very convincing". 37 percent of voters volunteered that safety concerns were the most important reason for funding bike trails and lanes.

A 1994 survey of house-buying preferences, by American Lives, Inc., found that 74 percent of home buyers said the presence of walking and biking trails is very or extremely important in their choice of location. This answer was fourth, behind "Quiet, low traffic area" at 93 percent, "designed with cul-de-sac streets, circles and courts" at 77 percent, and "lots of natural, open space" at 77 percent.

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