BTS Reveals Americans’ Attitudes on Biking and Walking

BTS Reveals Americans’ Attitudes on Biking and Walking

Only half of all adults said they are satisfied with their communities’ designs for bicycling safety, but three out of four adults express satisfaction with their communities’ designs for pedestrian safety, according to a survey conducted jointly by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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 United States. The survey was conducted during a 10-week period in the summer of 2002, and the margin of error was plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. Survey participants were queried about their bicycling and walking activities during the past 30 days. (Figure 1 and figure 2)

Respondents were also asked to recommend changes to their communities for either bicycling or walking. Most suggested changes in bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Of those, 73% wanted new bicycle facilities, such as trails, bicycle lanes, and traffic signals; and 74% wanted pedestrian facilities, including sidewalks, lighting, and crosswalks.

Other findings included:

  • A steep decline in bicycling as people age. Nearly 40% of those ages 16 to 24 ride a bicycle during the summer, while 26% of those aged 45 to 54 ride. Only about 9% of those age 65 and older ride a bike.
  • 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.
  • Nearly 80% of adult Americans take at least one walk of five minutes or longer during the summer months, while fewer than 30% ride a bike. A decline in walking occurs gradually as people age. Eighty-two percent of those ages 16 to 24 take walks, while 80% of those age 45 and 54 do so. Sixty-six percent of those who are 65 and older report taking walks.
  • People who do not take walks cite disability or other health problems (25%), unfavorable weather (22%), and too busy or no opportunity (19%).

Those who do not bike cite lack of access to a bicycle (26%), too busy or no opportunity (17%), disability or other health problems (10%).

This study is the most comprehensive of its kind by the Department of Transportation. More findings involving the safety aspect of this study from the current survey are planned for release. An electronic version of the report is available at or