Surveys show that a large majority of bicycle trips in the U.S. are made solely for recreation and exercise, with only a small percentage made for commuting and other utilitarian purposes. These numbers support my experience. I know many dedicated cyclists who ride their bikes long distances for recreation and/or training but don’t use their bikes for commuting or even short errands.
I believe these existing sport cyclists represent our best opportunity to increase the number of transportational bicyclists on the road. They already understand the health benefits of bicycling, they’re well-invested in gear, and they’re well-acclimated to riding in traffic and sharing the road with cars. The only thing missing is the desire to use their bicycle for transportation.
A majority of existing recruitment efforts appear to be directed at non-bicyclists, with what appears to be only minimal efforts directed at existing sport cyclists. These already enthusiastic riders are the low hanging fruit of transpo bicycle advocacy. I believe advocates need to bridge the gap between sport and transport and figure out a way to persuade these existing cyclists to consider using their bicycles to replace at least some of their car trips. Solving this puzzle is likely to result in a high success rate and good return on investment in the effort to get more people using bicycles for transportation.
I’m curious to know how you came to riding your bicycle for transportation as an adult. Did you start out riding for recreation or fitness first, then later come to use your bicycle for transportation, or did you take up riding for transportation right from the start?