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U.S. DOT Releases Major Survey on Biking and Walking

Press Release Number: 
BTS 07-03
Date: 
Sunday, May 4, 2003
Media Contact: 
Roger Lotz, 202-366-2246

Sunday May 4, 2003 -- Nearly 80 percent of adult Americans take at least one walk of five minutes or longer during the summer months, while fewer than 30 percent ride a bike, according to a major new survey released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In the survey, conducted jointly by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only half of all adults are satisfied with their communities' designs for bicycling safety, whereas three out of four adults are satisfied with their communities' designs for pedestrian safety.

Survey respondents were also asked to recommend changes to their communities for either bicycling or walking. Most persons suggested changes in bicycle and pedestrian facilities. For those recommending changes, 73 percent wanted new bicycle facilities, such as trails, bicycle lanes and traffic signal, and 74 percent wanted pedestrian facilities including sidewalks, lighting and crosswalks.

Findings from the survey showed a steep decline in bicycling as people age. Nearly 40 percent of those 16 to 24 ride a bicycle during the summer, while 26 percent of those 45 to 54 ride. Only about 9 percent of those age 65 and older report they ride a bike.

The decline in walking occurs more gradually as people age. Eighty-two percent of those 16 to 24 take walks, while 80 percent of those 45 and 54 do so. Sixty-six percent of those 65 and older report taking walks.

People who do not take walks cite these reasons: disability or other health problems (25 percent); unfavorable weather (22 percent); and too busy or no opportunity (19 percent). Those who do not bike cite lack of access to a bicycle (26 percent); too busy or no opportunity (17 percent); disability or other health problems (10 percent).

Males are more likely to take a bike ride during the summer than are females. However, both groups are about equally likely to take walks during the summer.

The "National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors" involved phone interviews with more than 9,600 adults age 16 and older throughout the U.S. conducted during a 10-week period in the summer of 2002. Participants were asked if they took a walk or a bicycle ride during the previous 30 days. The margin of error for the survey is +/-1.5 percentage points.

This study is the most comprehensive of its kind by the Department of Transportation. More findings from the current survey are planned for future release.

An electronic version of the report with more details is available at www.bicyclinginfo.org or www.walkinginfo.org.