Cycling in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cycling in the United States
CountryUnited States
Governing bodyUSA Cycling
National team(s)United States Olympics team
International competitions

Cycling in the United States is a minor sport in the country. It is also a mode of transport, particularly in urban areas.

As a mode of transport[edit]


Bicycling experienced a rise in popularity in the 21st century, as people sought to escape the congestion and reduce their environmental impact. Research shows that cycling is not only environmentally-friendly but is also beneficial to one's mental, physical, and social health.[1] Activists and organizations such as the League of American Bicyclists campaigned for safer bicycle infrastructure. However, recent efforts to increase cycling in the United States have been insufficient, and the number of people who ride their bikes continues to plummet from 2014-2019.[2]

Recently, many American cities have started to promote cycling due to economic and educational opportunities, following what many European countries did in the past decades where they reclaimed space in the urban landscape from cars. National Geographic author Ilana Strauss suggests a direct correlation between perceived safety features like protected bike lanes and the amount of cyclists on the road.[2]


Bicycle law in the United States regulates the use of bicycles. Although bicycle law is a relatively new specialty within the law, first appearing in the late 1980s, its roots date back to the 1880s and 1890s, when cyclists were using the courts to assert a legal right to use the roads. In 1895, George B. Clementson, an American attorney, wrote The Road Rights and Liabilities of Wheelmen, the first book on bicycle law, in which he discussed the seminal cases of the 1880s and 1890s, which were financed by Albert Pope of Columbia Bicycles, and through which cyclists gained the right to the road.[3]

By the mid-1980s, a substantial body of law pertaining to bicycles had developed, and a few attorneys had begun specializing in bicycle law. Today, attorneys specializing in bicycle law represent professional athletes, as well as average cyclists, on issues ranging from professional contracts, to traffic accidents, to traffic tickets. In addition, attorneys specializing in bicycle law may advise cyclists on other legal issues, such as bicycle theft, insurance, harassment of cyclists, defective products law, and non-professional contractual issues.

Many U.S. states require by law that children wear helmets while bicycling.


According to a research article by Harry Oosterhuis, American cyclists' demographics mostly consist of men, students, and youngsters.[4] Cycling advocates have asserted that low-income and minority communities also see a much lower percentage of cyclists due to the disproportionately low access to bicycle infrastructures.[5]


The United States is generally considered as one of the least bicycle-friendly countries in the world. Compared to the Netherlands, where 27 percent of workers commute on a bike, America has an 1 percent of trips being completed on a bicycle.[2] Many speculate that the lack of use of bicycles usage in the United States is because of the dominance of cars.[6][7][8][9] However, some studies suggest that the socioeconomic and sociocultural characteristics of the United States are also contributing factors.

Ralph Buehler, John Pucher, and Adrian Bauman, authors of Journal of Transport & Health, conducted a logistic regression research where they concluded the aforementioned factors are proven to be "substantial" when it comes to its impact on cycling. They concluded that women, children, and low-income communities are often ignored when new cycling facilities are being built.[1]

Another article by Journal of Transport Geography suggests that this socioeconomic inequality regarding bicycle infrastructure is due to the belief of a higher demand for said infrastructure in dense and urban areas, which is generally linked to high-income, high-education communities. The authors also suggested a motivating factor of bicycle infrastructure development is its economic potential of returning highly educated Americans back to the cities.[5]

As a sport[edit]

USA Cycling or USAC, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the national governing body for bicycle racing in the United States. It covers the disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, and BMX across all ages and ability levels. In 2015, USAC had a membership of 61,631 individual members.[10]

USA Cycling is associated with the UCI or, Union Cyclist Internationale, which governs international cycling, and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The organization is also a member of the continental body Confederacion Panamericana de Ciclismo (COPACI). USA Cycling also organizes the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, the top road cycling series for men and women in the United States.[11]

Lance Armstrong was one of the United States' most successful cyclists.

Ayesha McGowan became the first African American female professional road cyclist.[12] Major Taylor was the first African American world champion in cycling.[13][14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Buehler, Ralph; Pucher, John; Bauman, Adrian (2020). "Physical activity from walking and cycling for daily travel in the United States, 2001–2017: Demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic variation". Journal of Transport & Health. 16: 100811. doi:10.1016/j.jth.2019.100811. ISSN 2214-1405. S2CID 213715791.
  2. ^ a b c Strauss, Ilana (2021-09-21). "Is the U.S. becoming more bike friendly?". Environment. Archived from the original on 2021-09-21. Retrieved 2022-01-23.
  3. ^ Mionske, Bob, Bicycling & the Law 345 (VeloPress 2007)
  4. ^ Oosterhuis, Harry (2014-01-01). "Bicycle Research between Bicycle Policies and Bicycle Culture". Mobility in History. 5 (1). doi:10.3167/mih.2014.050103. ISSN 2296-0503.
  5. ^ a b Braun, Lindsay M.; Rodriguez, Daniel A.; Gordon-Larsen, Penny (2019-10-01). "Social (in)equity in access to cycling infrastructure: Cross-sectional associations between bike lanes and area-level sociodemographic characteristics in 22 large U.S. cities". Journal of Transport Geography. 80: 102544. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2019.102544. ISSN 0966-6923. S2CID 211464818.
  6. ^ "Rise in cycling is changing US cities". 14 July 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2019 – via
  7. ^ Buehler, Ralph; Pucher, John (2012). "Walking and Cycling in Western Europe and the United States: Trends, Policies, and Lessons". TR News: 34–42.
  8. ^ Davies, Alex. "Here's What Americans Don't Get About Cycling — And Why It's A Problem". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. ^ Pucher, John; Buehler, Ralph; Merom, Dafna; Bauman, Adrian (December 2011). "Walking and Cycling in the United States, 2001–2009: Evidence From the National Household Travel Surveys". American Journal of Public Health. 101 (S1): S310-7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2010.300067. PMC 3222478. PMID 21551387.
  10. ^ "USA Cycling Fact Sheet" (PDF). USA Cycling.
  11. ^ "National Calendars Pro-Road Tour". USA Cycling.
  12. ^ Cohen, Josh (11 June 2015). "Can Ayesha McGowan Become America's First Black Woman Pro Cyclist?". Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Honoring Major Taylor, America's first black world champion". Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Marshall 'Major' Taylor: world champion cyclist He was the second black world champion". 22 February 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  15. ^ King, Gilbert. "The Unknown Story of "The Black Cyclone," the Cycling Champion Who Broke the Color Barrier". Smithsonian. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Guy On A Bike: African-American Cycling Pioneers". 16 February 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2019.