Chad Andrews, Jeff Viscount (Weekly Rides) and Ann Groninger (Bike Law) talk about cycling infrastructure

We know that the US has jumped leaps and bounds on how to make our country more cycling friendly.

Here’s some information from Reliance Foundry:


The number of cyclists in the United States and Canada has increased steadily for the past two decades. According to a study published in 2011—which looked at data from national surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation—North America is in the midst of a “cycling renaissance”.

What does this look like? In the United States and Canada:

  • The number of bike trips taken each year tripled between 1977 and 2009
  • The number of people biking to work doubled between 2000 and 2009—accounting for 0.6 percent, or about 766,000 Americans, of the working population
  • In 2012, 865,000 American workers cycled to work (an increase of 11 percent from 2009)

These numbers represent national averages, but are much higher in cities that invest significantly in cycling infrastructure. Portland, often recognized as America’s greatest biking city, increased the number of bike trips per year by almost six-fold between 1990 and 2009, accounting for almost 6 percent of overall transportation in the city. For Portland’s work-specific commutes, bike-use peaked at 18 percent in 2008.

Generally, biking is more popular in western North America—especially in dense urban areas, gentrified neighborhoods and university/college locales—than in the east. However, eastern cultural hubs such as Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City have also seen huge growth in cycling populations, suggesting weather and climate are not the only factors influencing bike use.

It’s worth noting that income can have an impact on why people cycle. More affluent populations are more likely to cycle for leisure, while low-income populations are more likely to cycle for utilitarian purposes—i.e. commuting to work or school.


While Americans can take pride in their growing bike culture, cycling has been ubiquitous in European communities for decades.

  • In Denmark, 16 percent of all trips—and 25 percent of trips less than 3 miles—are made by bike.
  • As in North America, urban areas see more cycling than rural—even then, it’s estimated that half of Copenhagen residents bike to work or school.
  • Bike ownership is another big indicator of ubiquitous bicycling culture: 90 percent of Denmark’s population own a bike while only 56 percent own a car.

The situation is similar in the Netherlands.

  • In Amsterdam, there are 800,000 bikes and only 263,000 cars. With a population of 779,808, that amounts to more bikes than people!
  • Ridership is also high, with about 63 percent of Dutch people riding their bikes daily, and making up about 48 percent of all city traffic (compared to only 22 percent for vehicles).

So why is cycling more common in these countries? It turns out there are a few distinctions to consider.

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