Oregon Bicycle Ridership

We learn how many Oregonians bike and how often, then listen to people’s opinions about biking in their communities.

bicycles

From March 24 through April 3, 2023, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a survey of Oregonians’ attitudes and behaviors related to bicycle and e-bike use. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below. 

This report touches on Oregonians’ responses to six questions on bicycling. While we acknowledge that the state’s bicycle ridership and infrastructure may differ in various regions, we aim to offer a useful and informative overview of statewide trends. In cases where sample sizes are significant enough, further data analysis can supplement these findings.  

The question numbers in this document correspond with the accompanying annotated questionnaire. Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs. 

OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability. 

For survey full question wording, all statistically significant subgroup findings, and respondent quotes, readers are encouraged to refer to the accompanying three documents: (1) annotated questionnaire, (2) crosstabulations document, and (3) verbatim written responses spreadsheet (by request only). 

Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC): This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. OVBC is an independent and non-partisan organization and an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation. Representative OVBC projects include opinion research about race-based crimes for the Asian Health and Service Center, as well as research about early childhood education and the cost of childcare for the Children’s Institute.

Free Association Semantics and Imagery

Oregonians associations with bicycling are heavily influenced by the area in which they reside. Overall themes relate to tourism, health, sustainability, and safety, with differing emphasis according to area of the state. 

Central Oregon:

“Green and protects the environment.”

Woman, age 55-64, Black or African American 

“Try not to get run over. Otherwise beautiful scenery.”    

Man, age 18-29, White 

Southern Oregon:

“It’s a great and safe option made better by bike lanes on major thoroughfares.”   

Woman, age 45-54, Asian   

“Mountain biking trails in our area are plentiful, well maintained and supported by the community. Road bike trails are not as common but fairly well maintained. Unfortunately, drug use and theft/assault along the road bike trail routes makes you think twice about using them.”

Man, age 30-44, White 

“You have to be very mindful not to get hit by motorist, that are not careful that you are sharing the road also.”  

Man, age 18-29, Black or African American  

Mid-Willamette Valley:

“It has some great trails in Bryant Park, wish there was more. Commuting by bike is terrible, the police have harassed me many times while Commuting by bike and there are some places like under I5 by the McDonald’s where there is not a legal way in which to bike and goldfish farm road is another example.”  

Man, age 45-54, White    

“Bicycling practically defines Eugene. This is one of the most bike friendly places in the USA.”  

Man, age 55-64, White 

“Easy to commute and navigate and easy to find bike routes.”  

Man, age 45-54, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native 

“Dangerous, people who use bikes in this city think they own the road and don’t have to obey the stop signs, stop lights, crosswalks, and do whatever the HELL they want.”     

Woman, age 30-44, Asian 

North Coast:

“It is recreational in my area so it doesn’t affect our driving as it might as when living in the city.”  

Prefers not to disclose gender, age 55-64, Another race or ethnicity not listed 

“I think ebiking electric bicycling in my community would be not a good idea because people drive very crazy and there’s been so many accidents”  

Woman, age 55-64, Hispanic/Latina/x and White 

Portland Metro:

“I’m a big fan of cycling as a method of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, increasing community health, and allowing cities to de-prioritize infrastructure centered around cars, which allows for increased green spaces and higher quality of life.” 

Man, age 30-44, White  

“The majority think they’re entitled to disregard safety measures, putting both themselves and pedestrians at risk of serious injury or death!”  

Man, age 65-74, Other race or ethnicity 

“Bicycling in my community is not safe. There are too many vehicle drivers that don’t pay attention to their driving. Too many bicyclists are getting killed.” 

Woman, age 75+, White 

“Bicycling is a great way of transportation. It is environmentally efficient and useful.”    

Woman, age 18-29, Hispanic/Latina/x 

Ridership Levels

  • About four-in-ten Oregonians ride a bike for various purposes such as commuting to work or school, running errands, engaging in leisure activities like dining out, as well as for recreational and fitness pursuits (Q3).  
    • Compared to other demographic groups, bicycle ridership is especially common among men, people aged 30-44, and people with school-aged children in their household. 
bicycle usage in Oregon
  • In comparison, e-bike use is considerably lower, as only 15% of respondents report using an e-bike for similar purposes (Q4). 
    • Similar to traditional bike usage, e-bike usage is more prevalent among men, individuals aged 30-44, and people with school-aged children. However, those with at least a 4-year college degree, those living in urban areas, and those with an annual income of at least $50,000 also report higher rates of e-bike usage.

Ridership Decline

  • Among those who bike regularly, there are no conclusive trends in usage over time (Q5). That said, slightly more bicyclists say they are riding less often (38%) than say they ride more often now (29%). The remaining 33% say they ride about as often as in the past. 
    • People who are more likely to report a decline in their bicycle usage include women, people aged 45 and older, individuals living in rural areas, and those who do not have school-aged children living with them. 
    • On the other hand, individuals who are more likely to report an increase in their bicycle usage are those aged 30-44, urban residents, and people with school-aged children living in their household. 
  • When asked why they are bicycling less often, answers vary by area but often relate to safety, weather, and convenience: 
Central Oregon:

“Too many tourists and cars our population has grown so I don’t feel as safe riding my bike around town.” 

Woman, age 45-54, White 

“Too many demands on my time making driving seem easier and faster.”   

Man, age 30-44, White 

Southern Oregon:

“Smoke from wildfires during riding season and increased travel to get out of the smoke.”    

Man, age 30-44, White 

“I am biking less because of poor weather, longer commutes to work, and limitations to time.”  

Woman, age 65-74, White  

Mid-Willamette Valley:

“COVID, more sensitivity to cold and heat, avoiding grass pollen allergies, avoiding poor AQI (wildfire smoke), large increase in bike thefts, transporting more things these days that don’t fit well on a bike.”   

Man, age 18-29, Asian  

“More road rage in town and less alertness from drivers.”  

Man, age 55-64, White  

“Development around my home increasing congestion, drivers are speeding, buildings obscure line of sight – just is more dangerous”    

Woman, age 18-29, Prefers not to disclose race  

North Coast:

“Tourist season has started and it is less safe currently”  

Woman, age 18-29, Prefers not to disclose race  

“Too much traffic in my area, now use my indoor bike for exercise”   

Woman, age 55-64, White 

Portland Metro:

“Because I don’t feel safe on the roads. There are a lot of crazy drivers.” 

Woman, age 30-44, Black or African American 

“I am living farther away and bike less often as a result.” 

Man, age 30-44, Asian 

Methodology: The online survey consisted of 2,514 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±1.95%. Due to rounding or multiple-answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%. 

For More Information