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Are safety concerns holding you back from bike commuting?

The majority of Americans would like to ride more often, but data shows that safety is still a primary concern. Are you in this group?

According a national survey of more than 16,000 adults, more than half of Americans (ages 18 and over) would like to bicycle more often and perceive bicycling as a convenient mode of transportation. For those that already ride, a whopping 74% would like to ride more often. (People for Bikes, March 2015). 

So what is holding them back? 

Bike Safety

Safety concerns are the biggest barrier for most people, even among active riders. Overall, 52% of the adults surveyed are worried about being hit by a motor vehicle. 

And these concerns have not changed much over the years. The same survey showed that only 29% of active riders agree with the statement, "I feel more safe riding a bicycle now than I did five years ago."  

What is clear is that many Americas are using a bicycle for transportation and would like to ride more but safety is still a top concern. 

So what type of transportation cyclist are you? Take the short survey and let us know. To learn about the different types of transportation cyclists, keep reading.

Bike Transportation Model

In 2005, Portland’s Bicycle Coordinator, Roger Geller’s developed a way to describe Four Types of Transportation Cyclists, His model included four categories of cyclists: "strong and the fearless," "enthused and confident," "interested but concerned," and "no way, no how". The distinctions between groups was from a person’s comfort level with riding a bicycle in urban environments.

Four Types of Cyclists Model; Portland Bureau of Transportation

The interested but concerned crowd was the largest at 60% of the community's adult population, with the no way, no how at 33%. Safety concerns about riding a bicycle in a roadway with other traffic was the number one reason people did not ride as a means of transportation.


To clarify, the following definitions were used for each category:

  • Strong & Fearless are the people who will ride in Portland regardless of roadway conditions. They are ‘bicyclists;’ riding is a strong part of their identity and they are generally undeterred by roadway conditions.

  • Enthused and Confident are those who have been attracted to cycling in Portland by the significant advances the city has made developing its bike way network and supporting infrastructure. They are comfortable sharing the roadway with automotive traffic, but they prefer to do so operating on their own facilities.

  • Interested but Concerned are residents curious about bicycling. They like riding a bicycle and would like to ride more. But, they are afraid to ride. They would ride if they felt safer on the roadways.

  • No way, no how group is currently not interested in bicycling at all.

​Additional research by Portland State University shed further light on these adults who are Interested but Concerned. ​Some findings

  • Many don’t like driving cars (higher % than other groups).

  • They do like riding bikes equally as the other groups.

  • Currently they bike more for recreation/exercise than transportation.

  • Bike infrastructure needs to address their lack of comfort on roadways.

  • Slower traffic speeds and increased physical separation from motor vehicles may increase levels of comfort and cycling rates.

  • There is a positive correlation between those who rode a bike to school, and those who are riding their bikes now (or are interested in riding a bike now.

​The model and the data are helpful ways to think about the potential of biking for transportation and the challenges. Don't forget to take the survey and tell us what kind of rider you are.

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