people riding bikes

Why Do People Ride Bikes?

people riding bikes

What Makes Someone Bike Instead of Drive?

Unless I’m mistaken, most people enjoy riding their bike. I’d guess at least a modest portion of the latter group agree that bike riding is more “eco-friendly” than driving a car, providing an additional incentive to pedal. (If you care about that). So what causes someone to substitute one for the other?

Two studies in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition took a crack at answering that question.

They studied two groups of people: affluent, relatively healthy people, and adolescents.

Some of the reasons weren’t that surprising. Distance to work and school had a large influence on how likely you are to ride your bike, and so did the level of traffic. People who like walking or biking tend to do more of it as well. No big surprise.

Parents Have A Large Influence

However, I found a few of the correlates surprising. Among high school kids, your parents have a large influence on your willingness to ride a bike:

 Irrespective of gender, cycling to school was associated with parental confidence in their child’s cycling ability (boys: OR 10.39; 95% CI 3.79-28.48; girls: OR 4.03; 95% CI 2.02-8.05), and parental perceived convenience of driving (boys: OR 0.42; 95% CI 0.23-0.74; girls: OR 0.40; 95% CI 0.20-0.82);

The numbers in parentheses are confusing, but if parents worry about how good you are at riding your bike, then you’re less likely to do it.

On the surface that might not seem surprising, but I find it peculiar since teenagers usually ignore their parents in favor of their peers for lifestyle advice. Why would meddlesome parents outweigh peer influence with bike riding, but not in other areas? It’s especially bizarre if most of the children in the study ride their bike to school with their friends.

Among the wealthy, loving your car makes you more likely to walk, but less likely to cycle. Probably because the car can be used as a substitute for the bike on medium/long distances,but less so on shorter runs.


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