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Cycling Participation Bounces Back in 2007

Published April 30, 2008

LAGUNA HILLS, CA (BRAIN)—After tumbling 13 percent in 2006, cycling participation rebounded slightly in 2007.

Overall participation was up five percent—from 35.6 million riders in 2006 to 37.4 million riders in 2007—according to statistics released this month by the National Sporting Goods Association.

Cycling registered at No.6 in the NSGA’s ranking of participation by sport, falling behind exercise walking, exercising with equipment, swimming, camping and bowling, in that order.

Last year, cycling came in eighth, but was sixth in 2005. Participation remains down 9.1 percent from five years ago.

The Outdoor Industry Association also noted a slight increase in cycling participation last year. It recorded a 1-percent increase in mountain biking, from 6.85 million to 6.92 million riders, and a 1.7-percent increase in road/paved surface riding, from 38.3 million riders to 39 million riders. Unlike the NSGA, the OIA reported an increase in participation in 2006.

One notable change in the NSGA’s 2007 research occurred in the age breakdown. In the 18 to 24 category, ridership rose to 11.7 percent from 5.7 percent in 2007.

It’s difficult to say what that could be attributed to given the statistics don’t specify style of riding, such as urban single speed vs. mountain, said Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association.

Regardless of the reason, “if bicycle can be seen as cool by any generation I think it’s a great thing,” Clements said. “I think coolness probably drives a lot of the decision making in that age group.”

Clements said the 18 to 24 year olds might have been swayed into cycling more by rising gas prices than older folks who are more apt to divert money from discretionary items like bikes, into their gas tanks.

For more on the latest cycling participation research, be sure to read the May 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

— Nicole Formosa

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