Guess what America: We are all Cyclists!

Being a one-percenter is a pretty lofty club, now matter what the affiliation. It could mean you’re part of an exclusive group of those with abundant wealth, world-class athletic skills or people who listen to Justin Bieber.

President Obama Cycling Image: Rick Friedman: Getty Images
President Obama Cycling
Image: Rick Friedman: Getty Images

A recent study came out revealing the number of Americans who know how to bicycle. The numbers were so large, even I was surprised.

From Mona Chalabi of

…..based on the responses of 1,196 U.S. adults: 6 percent of Americans don’t know how to ride a bike….

….In the Northeast, 12 percent of Americans said they didn’t know how to ride a bike compared to just 3 percent in the Midwest (it was closer to the national average elsewhere — 5 percent in the South and 6 percent in the West)…

Okay, my math is a little off, but 94% of Americans knowing how to ride a bike is almost a complete victory.

When you slide down the article, you realize the percentage of cyclists that ride frequently is somewhat lower. I intended taking the numbers as if, but they irked me for sometime.

Take swimming for example. Roughly 56% of Americans know how to handle themselves in the water, yet without referencing science, you know the people who regularly swim is scant. I read somewhere that 32% of Americans have pools of their own or at least live in a facility with one. It seems like a high number, but I’ll go with it.

Now add in the number of pools that are heated, well-maintained and large enough to recreate in. That decreases the “pool” size even further. So in order to get some swimming in, you have to do some work. Unless you’re associated with a master’s club, my guess is that people you know who swim regularly falls back in the previously mentioned Bieber category.

How does this tangent relate to cycling? Part of the issue of getting people to cycle regularly is opportunity as well, or in our case good infrastructure. While there does appear to be a will to get onto two wheels, there isn’t much of a way.

Bike lanes are few and far between across most of the country. Even in our city, which is considered more on the progressive side, our network is still lacking the connections to make travel fluid.

If you’re wondering why there is such a divide between participation and opportunity it comes down to safety and convenience. Cycling can be scary if you’re force into traffic exceeding its 40 mph speed limit.

The good news is we are making strides and the more infrastructure becomes live seems to have an exponential impact on cycling. If we keep the momentum going, it won’t feel like we’re swimming upstream for long.