Sociodemographic Factors, Population Density, and Bicycling for Transportation in the United States

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


Transportation bicycling is a behavior with demonstrated health benefits. Population-representative studies of transportation bicycling in United States are lacking. This study examined associations between sociodemographic factors, population density, and transportation bicycling and described transportation bicyclists by trip purposes, using a US-representative sample.


This cross-sectional study used 2009 National Household Travel Survey datasets. Associations among study variables were assessed using weighted multivariable logistic regression.


On a typical day in 2009, 1% of Americans older than 5 years of age reported a transportation bicycling trip. Transportation cycling was inversely associated with age and directly with being male, with being white, and with population density (≥ 10,000 vs < 500 people/square mile: odd ratio, 2.78, 95% confidence interval, 1.54–5.05). Those whose highest level of education was a high school diploma or some college were least likely to bicycle for transportation. Twenty-one percent of transportation bicyclists reported trips to work, whereas 67% reported trips to social or other activities.


Transportation bicycling in the United States is associated with sociodemographic characteristics and population density. Bicycles are used for a variety of trip purposes, which has implications for transportation bicycling research based on commuter data and for developing interventions to promote this behavior.

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Nehme ( and Kohl are with the Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences; Pérez is with the Division of Biostatistics; Ranjit is with the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences; University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus. Amick is with the Dept of Health Policy and Management, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, Florida International University, Miami, FL.