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In countless parts of the world, biking is a favorite activity and form of exercise. While cycling remains the preferred form of transportation in some countries, notably Denmark, it's seen an uptick in interest in others countries lately, too. Improvements in cycling safety, such as encouraging helmet use and creating protected bike lanes have helped encourage more and more people to hop on two wheels and go for a ride.
Who Bikes? Bike Participation Stats
How many people are riding bikes on a regular or at least semi-regular basis? That all depends on the location. Some parts of the world are considerably more bike-friendly than others and as a result, have higher rates of ridership.
For example, Denmark is the most bike-friendly country in the world. So it's little surprise that nine out of 10 people in the country own a bike, compared to just four out of 10 people who own a car. Also, all together, people in Copenhagen bike the equivalent of 35 times around the globe every day.
The average Danish person cycles 1.6 km every day while the average person in Copenhagen rides 3.0 km daily. Nearly half of all Danish children ride their bikes to school. Overall, people use bicycles for more than a quarter of all trips under 5 km.
Cycling participation statistics are a little less impressive in other parts of the globe but have still seen an upswing in recent years. For example, about 30 percent of the population of Germany rides a bike at any point during the week, and the typical cyclist rides three times per week or uses a bike for about one-third of their trips.
In the US, there's been an increase in cycling participation in recent years, but again, it's nothing to rival Denmark. The number of trips made by bike rose from just under 2 billion 2000 to 4 billion in 2009.
Here's a look at some cool cycling participation stats from a few US cities:
Are women as likely to bike as men?
Who's more likely to ride a bike: a man or a woman? According to statistics from Buzzfeed, men are more likely to ride, at least in the US. An analysis of the use of bike share systems by gender found that women make up less than a quarter of riders.
One of the most significant concerns women have, and the concern that likely keeps them off of the bike is safety. Two separate surveys found that the majority of women who don't bike stay off of the road because they are concerned about distracted car drivers.
Two separate surveys found women who don't bike are concerned with safety. Another found that women were far more likely to bike on roads with buffered bike lanes.
Data from Philadelphia demonstrates that women are more likely to ride when the road conditions seem safer. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia revealed that female riders accounted for 35 percent of all riders on streets with buffered bike lanes in 2016 and less than 25 percent of riders on roads without a bike lane.
But in places where bike safety is taken very seriously and where biking is a way of life, like Copenhagen, women cyclists outnumber men. More than half of all cyclists in Denmark are female.
Bike Commuter Growth Statistics
Commuting to work by bike is a growing trend in the US and elsewhere. But in the US, at least, it's still a tiny minority of workers who ride their bikes to work. The most recent report on commuting from the Alliance for Biking and Walking revealed that 0.6 percent of all commuters biked to work in 2013, up from 0.5 percent in 2009 and 0.4 percent in 2005.
That said, according to stats from the League of American Bicyclists, bike commuting has seen a dramatic jump in several states. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of commuters in what the league calls "Bike-Friendly Communities" increased by 105 percent. Even in non-Bike-Friendly Communities, the number of cyclist commuters increased by 31 percent between 2000 and 2013.
Here's a look at the growth in commuters in a handful of US cities, between 2000 and 2013.
In cities with larger populations, 1.2 percent of commuters biked to work in 2013, up from 0.7 percent in 2005.
Some cities appeal more to bike commuters than others. For example, in famously bike-friendly Portland, Oregon, more than 7 percent of commuters ride a bike.
Philadelphia, which isn't a particularly bike-friendly city, happens to have the most bike commuters per capita among the top 10 cities by population size. The introduction of the city's bike share system, Indego, is thought to have contributed to the recent jump in the number of bike commuters.
Which cities cycle the most? Here are the top 10 according to the American Community Survey (ACS), compiled by the League of American Bicyclists.
San Francisco (4.3%)
Washington DC (4.1%)
New Orleans (3.3%)
Compared to driving a car to work every day or using any other gasoline powered mode of transportation, cycling is considerably better for the environment. But a reduction in oil-powered fuel use isn't the only way that cycling helps the planet. Lowering rates of obesity and improving people's overall health also helps to keep the earth a green place to live.
Could switching to biking save on gas?
In the US, cars and trucks owned by individuals account for about 40 percent of the oil used in the country. More alarming, US cars and trucks account for 10 percent of oil used worldwide. Although the US population has only grown by half since 1970, the number of miles driven each year has increased to more than 3 million, about triple the amount driven in 1970.
All told cars make up 20 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the US, producing nearly 20 pounds per gallon, or about a pound of CO2 per mile driven.
If people were to switch from driving cars to riding a bike for a variety of short daily trips, between 2.4 and 5 billion gallons of gas could be saved and between 21 and 45 million tons of CO2 wouldn't be released each year.
Switching from driving to biking for short, daily trips could save between 2.4 and 5 billion gallons of gas and keep between 21 and 45 million tons of Co2 out of the atmosphere.
One of the annoyances of car ownership and driving is having to find parking for your vehicle wherever you go. Parking isn't just annoying, though. It's also an environmental disaster. There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 105 million to 2 billion parking spaces in the US. Each of those areas is usually paved or cemented over, which can increase the CO2 emissions of a car considerably over the course of its life.
The more people bike and the less they drive, the less need there is for parking spaces.
Biking is good for your health and can help you lose weight, improve your heart and lung function, and strengthen your muscles. It's also easy on the joints, making it an ideal form of exercise for people young and old.
Although the health benefits of biking are well-known, sometimes, looking at the cold, hard numbers helps to make an idea come to life.
Overall Health Statistics
Let's start with a biggie: cyclists are less likely to die than non-cyclists. That might sound like a pretty big statement, but a major study, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests precisely that.
The study took place over the course of five years and involved 263,450 participants. Slightly more than half were women, and the median age of each participant was 52. Over the course of the study, 2,430 participants died, some due to cancer and some due to heart disease.
The participants in the study who were also active cyclists had lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and most importantly, death.
Cycling can also help people increase their lifespan. In the UK, at least, cyclists tend to gain about 20 years of life from cycling.
If you'd rather use your time off from work for fun instead of recuperating from an illness, you might want to consider biking. In Denmark, every 1,200 km a person bikes reduces the number of sick days he or she takes by one.
You might think that cyclists have one disadvantage compared to those who drive in cars or take public transit -- sitting on a bike in the middle of the street leaves cyclists exposed to plenty of toxic fumes and pollution.
As it turns out, people in cars are exposed to as much, if not more, air pollution as cyclists. One study found that people in automobiles breathed in 60 percent more carbon monoxide than those on bikes.
The more people who bike instead of drive or take the bus, the less pollution is created. One Dutch study suggested that a 12.5 percent reduction in the number of vehicles on the street (using a traffic intensity of 10,000 vehicles a day) would lead to a reduction in nitrogen dioxide leaves and a reduction in large particulates in the air. The study concluded that reducing the number of cars on the road would lower mortality rates by 1.012.
While biking can make people more likely to live longer, it needs to be mentioned that sometimes cyclists do die while on their bikes. The good news is that the more people ride, the fewer fatalities there are. For example, in Denmark, there was a 20 percent increase in the number of cyclists between 1999 and 2002 and a 20 percent reduction in the number of accidents.
Unfortunately, in the US, there's been an uptick in cycling deaths in recent years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatalities among "pedalcyclists" increased by more than 12 percent in 2015 and was the highest it had been since 1995.
The average age of cyclists who died in 2015 was 45. The majority were male. Around a quarter of cyclists killed on their bikes in 2015 were cycling with blood alcohol concentrations over the legal limit of 0.08.
Wearing a helmet won't necessarily prevent a crash and won't prevent all types of injuries from occurring in an accident. But helmets do protect the head, significantly reducing the severity of injuries to the skull and brain. Wearing a helmet also reduces the risk of dying in a bicycle accident.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), helmets reduce the risk of head injury by half. Helmets also reduce the risk of injury to areas around the head by one third. Just a handful --17 percent--of people who died in bike accidents in 2014 were wearing helmets. Among cyclist fatalities, the majority -- 60 percent--weren't wearing helmets.
Bike Accident Fatalities
Bike Lane Statistics
Although motorists often complain or grumble about the addition of bikes lanes to a street, particularly protected bike lanes, statistics show that the presence of bike lanes in an area does more good than harm.
For example, when it comes to safety, protected or separated bike lanes might be the best option. One Canadian study revealed that the risk for injury on protected bike lanes was 90 percent lower than on shared roads and roads with bike lanes that weren't entirely separated from car traffic.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, adding protected bike lanes doesn't necessarily make people more likely to ride. Instead, the lanes increase people's perception of safety. For example, around 13 percent cyclists surveyed stated that they felt threatened or unsafe at some point during their last ride.
A slightly smaller amount, 10 percent, of cyclists who rode on bike lanes stated that they felt threatened during their rides. In cases when there are no bike lanes or protected bike paths available, the number of cyclists who felt threatened or unsafe during a ride rose to 17 percent.
Protected bike lanes also give the area around them an economic boost. For example, New York City added a protected bike lane around Union Square and saw a 49 percent drop in commercial vacancies in the area. As a bonus, the city also saw a reduction in bike accidents (26 percent) and a reduction in speeding (16 percent).
In another area of NYC, retail shops saw a direct benefit after a protected bike lane was installed. Businesses based on 8th and 9th avenues saw their sales rise by nearly 50 percent after the city installed two protected bike lanes.
Salt Lake City saw a similar economic improvement when it added bike lanes. The city replaced parking in an area with bike lanes. As a result, sales in that area increased by 8.8 percent, higher than in the rest of the city.
The debate over whether or not bike lanes should be "protected," that is inaccessible by cars or not rages in some cities. For example, Philadelphia opened its first protected bike lane in 2017, only to have members of city council question how long it would last.
Despite some people's misplaced misgivings about protected bike lanes, the reality is that they are more effective that lanes that are painted on the road. According to a study from the National Association of Realtors, just 13 percent of people feel comfortable biking in a lane that's separated from traffic by a few painted lines. Meanwhile, 31 percent of people would feel comfortable riding in a lane that's separated from car traffic by a curb, row of parked cars or another physical barrier.
Bike Production Statistics
As biking has become a more and more popular activity in the US and worldwide, the number of bikes produced and sold has risen on a fairly consistent basis. In 2015, 12.5 million bikes (with wheels over 20 inches) were sold in the US, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA).