Ethnicity, income and bicycles

Sightline Institute researcher Eric de Place crunched recent bike commute data to discover who rides bicycles in the United States.

bicycle use by income bracket

I’ve long suspected that the “invisible cyclists” — lower income who ride bikes — are what wonks call “overrepresented” for their demographic. Le Place’s analysis shows that the poorest 25% of the American population make 31% of bike trips. Assuming he’s using personal (vs household) income, that’s anybody who makes less than about $15K annually.

Most of that “overrepresentation” chunk comes out of the second poorest 25% (roughly $15K to $28K), likely because of the perception that bicycles are for the poor and the upwardly mobile must own a car.

Personally interesting: 23% of bike trips are made by the richest 25% of Americans (anybody who makes more than $50K per year personal income).

Bicycle race

Crosswalk cyclist

According to Le Place’s analysis, whites are over represented. While Non-Hispanic Whites make up 65% of the U.S. population, 79% of cyclists are white. Hispanics make up 16% of the population but only 8% of cyclists. African Americans, who are 13% of the population, are 10% of cyclists, while Asian American make up 4.6% of Americans but only 3% of cyclists. Le Place didn’t look at Native American, Pacific Islander or Non-Hispanic mixed race numbers.

More information, links to sources, and discussion at Sightline: Who Bikes? Via Grist.

Income pie chart from Sightline. Crosswalk cyclist photo by Richard Masoner.


  1. “richest 25% of Americans (anybody who makes more than $50K per year personal income).”

    Making 50k yr does not make you rich

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