My wife and I recently got into a discussion about demographics, on a topic not related to biking. It was awhile afterwards that I had the thought: What about the demographics of bicycling?
Maybe you’ve seen some before. I guess I’ve run across survey results or tables, but the info never really stuck with me. So since I’m feeling bad about myself because I got home early enough to ride this afternoon, but didn’t, I thought I’d dig into some cycling demographics and see if there’s a statistical picture of the biking community (if there is such a thing as the “biking community”).
That’s the number of cyclists in the United States, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. Their estimate is based on the number of people age seven and older who have ridden a bike at least six times during the year. (Don’t ask me why six is the cutoff.)
According to the same source, cycling is often cited as the seventh most popular recreational activity in the U.S., behind exercise walking, swimming, camping, fishing, exercising with equipment and bowling.
In a 2006 survey, the Outdoor Industry Foundation reported that 58 percent of cyclists are male, 42 percent female. Among racers, 87 percent are male, and 12 percent female (Yes, I know — rounding issues).
Most racers, 32 percent, are 35-44 years old and are from California (17%).
The Bikes Belong Coalition reported in April, 2010, that the largest age group among cyclists is the 50-54 year old group. They make up 16.3 percent of all cyclists. For men, the 50-54s are the largest, with over 18 percent. Women skew younger. The 40-44 year old group makes up over 16 percent of women cyclists — the largest cohort among women.
Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS) reported in 2005 that U.S. cyclists who bike frequently have a median income of almost $60,000. Bikes Belong in 2010 said 32 percent of cyclists reported an income of less than $40,000; 40 percent between $40,000-$79,000; and 28 percent more than $80,000.
We ride a lot
Bikes Belong also asked cyclists how many days per month they rode in the “prime” cycling months of 2009. 23.4 percent said they rode 20-24 days a month; 18.5 percent said they rode 25 days or more. Those riding 15-19 days made up another 22.1 percent of the sample. 36.1 percent rode between 0 and 14 days per month, so it looks like 63.9 percent of us are pedaling at least every other day.
What do we ride?
The National Bicycle Dealers Association says mountain bikes are the largest category of bike they sell, accounting for 27.8 percent of all bikes sold. That number has dropped over the past few years, from 28.5 percent in 2006. Road bikes made up 14.9 percent of the sales in 2009, down from 17 percent in 2006. Hybrid and “youth” bikes both score higher than road bikes. But when Bikes Belong asked in 2010, “What kind of bike do you plan to buy next?” the answer was a whopping 39.1 percent for road bikes.
Finally, when asked, “How often do you ride for utility/transportation/commuting purposes?” the Bikes Belong survey found that 31.2 percent said “Occasionally,” and 23.5 percent said “Never.” In the States, recreational riding trumps biking for utility purposes.
If you’d like a look at the full Bikes Belong survey, including a section aimed at women, you can download a PDF file here.