In November/December 2014, PeopleForBikes conducted a U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmark study. The study was designed to benchmark bicycling participation across all types of bicycling and all types of riders. We will continue to field every other year. This page describes the methodology in detail.


The 10-minute online survey targeted members of the general population in the U.S. ages 3 and older. Because of legal and ethical constraints around interviewing children, adults with children in the household reported for the children ages 3 to 17 in their homes. To qualify, respondents were required to meet the following criteria:

  • Ages 18 or older
  • Reside in the U.S.

View the survey questions here.

Key characteristics of the methodology are as follows:

  • Bicycling participation was defined very broadly. Respondents indicated how many days in the past 12 months they “rode a bicycle of any type outside for any reason.”
  • Bicycling participation was measured in the context of ten activities.
    • Research suggests that measuring bicycling participation in the context of a single activity artificially reduces reported participation whereas asking about bicycling participation in the context of more than 25 activities artificially deflates reported participation.
  • The list of activities in which bicycling is measured includes leisure activities, transportation, sports, and chores so it doesn’t set a cognitive framework for either recreational or transportation bicycling.
    • The ten activities were presented in random order across respondents to control for order effects.
  • To control for positive response bias, respondents who reported having visited a fictional website within the past 12 months were terminated from the study. In 2018, respondents who had particularly
    fast response times were disqualified as an additional quality control measure.

    • Pre-testing indicated that 58% of those who reported having visited the fictional website reported having participated in all ten activities compared to only 5% of those who didn’t report having visited the fictional website.
  • Participation estimates were externally validated. The Pew Research Center (2018) estimated that 74% of adults in the U.S. read at least one book in the past year. The results of the 2018 U.S.
    Bicycling Participation study suggest that 69% of adults read a book at least one day in the past year. Some of this difference may be explained by differences in how the two studies treat audiobook listening and future waves of this study will implement additional measures and respondent quality checks to further improve the reliability of results.



The study was fielded to an online sample representative of the general population (SSI). The panel is balanced on a number of characteristics to ensure that it accurately reflects the U.S. general population. Quotas were set for age, region, and gender to ensure large enough sample for profiling.

A total of 14,467 completed interviews were collected from adults 18+ who reported on a total of 7,429 children between the ages of 3 and 17 inclusive. This sample provides an overall margin of error +/- less than 1% at a 95% level of confidence.



The final sample was weighted to reflect the U.S. population ages 3 and over for age, gender, region, ethnicity, and income. Weighting targets were generated based on the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey.


Special Thanks: Advisory Board

We offer a special thanks to our advisory board who reviewed the survey methodology and provided valuable feedback.

  • Ralph Buehler: Associate Professor, Urban Affairs & Planning, Virginia Tech
  • Charles Chancellor: Associate Professor, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University
  • Jennifer Dill: Professor, Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning, Portland State University
  • Susan Handy: Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California at Davis
  • Kevin Krizek: Professor, Programs in Environmental Design & Environmental Studies, University of Colorado
  • Anne Lusk: Research Scientist, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Nancy McGuckin: Travel Behavior Analyst
  • Chris Monsere: Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University
  • Elliot Rossen: Executive Vice President, Market Opportunities and Innovation, GfK Consumer Experiences North America
  • Dean Runyan: President, Dean Runyan and Associates
  • Elaine Zanutto: Vice President of Methods and Analytics, Naxion