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PSU research delves deeper into ‘Four types of cyclists’

Posted by on July 18th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Roger Geller’s chart that started it all.

It’s been six-and-a-half years since Portland Bureau of Transportation bicycle coordinator Roger Geller first defined the “Four types of cyclists”. Geller’s insights proved to be groundbreaking and his definitions have stood the test of time. I frequently hear references about the need to attract more “Interested but concerned” riders at conferences all over the country and I read about them in articles in media large and small.

Now a noted bicycle researcher at Portland State University, Jennifer Dill, is working to learn more about the various types of riders. At the recent Velo-City conference in Vancouver B.C., she shared her research, Categorizing Cyclists: What Do We Know? Insights from Portland, OR (PDF). Now her work has been made public.

The objective of Dill’s research was to look at Geller’s “Four types” and either confirm them as a useful labeling tool, or devise a new way of understanding them. She also wants to understand the various types of riders better, so that planners and engineers can tailor solutions to their needs and ultimately increase bike usage.

Between July and August of 2011, Dill’s team used a phone survey to contact Portland residents and then asked them a series of questions about themselves, their riding habits (or if they rode at all) and about how they felt about riding in different types of conditions. Dill used answers to her questions about relative comfort level in different riding conditions (like an off-street path versus a busy street with no bike lanes) to put the 900 respondents into one of Geller’s four categories: No way no how, interested but concerned, enthused and confident, and strong and fearless.

For example, here’s how people responded when asked to agree or disagree with: “If or when I ride a bike, I’m concerned about being hit by a motor vehicle”:

Another interesting finding in Dill’s research is how gender plays out over the four types (51% of the respondents were women). Of the 51% of people surveyed who were women, only about 20% qualify as “strong and fearless” or “enthused and confident”. As the slide below illustrates, only 20% of the “strong and fearless utilitarian cyclists” are women.

And not surprisingly, the “strong and fearless” is overwhelmingly young (18-34):

In a nod to how this research can help influence the types of facilities cities should build, one of the questions asked respondents to share how they felt about riding on different facilities. Dill asked participants to imagine bicycling on the following type of facility: “A major urban or suburban street with four lanes, on-street parking, traffic speeds of 30- 35 miles per hour, and no bike lane.” Then she asked, “What if a striped bike lane was added?” and then, “What if it also had a wide bike lane separated from traffic by a raised curb or parked cars?”

As highlighted in the chart below, having facilities that are physically separated from traffic has a huge impact on the “interested but concerned”:

Dill says she’s got more analysis to do before her full report is complete. In the meantime, feel free to share your feedback and ideas via her PSU staff webpage.

Note: Dill’s research is funded by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium and the City of Portland.

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  • Chris I July 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    The facilities chart is especially interesting. The same trend you see with the “Interested but Concerned” group can be found in the “No Way no How” group, leading to the possible conclusion that members of this group would be more inclined to ride if the infrastructure was there.

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    • El Biciclero July 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      …which is the opposite of the trend seen among the answers from experienced cyclists. It’s easy to imagine riding in a “protected” cycletrack when you don’t have to imagine stopping at every driveway and intersection, every time (green light or not) to avoid getting run over by drivers who can’t see you and don’t know what’s going on. Or you don’t have to imagine having no way around obstacles. Or any number of things. Can those who don’t ride in the city even realistically imagine anything about riding in the city? I can picture the intricacies of hundreds of scenarios that I have played out in real life that would be adversely affected–or were actually adversely affected by being “protected” with curbs and such, or “separated” from roadways altogether. I remain afraid that we have a “failure of imagination” when it comes to bike infrastructure around here. Or maybe those that don’t currently ride or only ride in parks imagine correctly that a 5mph pace with lots of stopping is what it would be like and they find that acceptable in their imaginations.

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      • Chris I July 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm

        You should try riding in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. It works. It works really well.

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        • spare_wheel July 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

          i have and i realized that bike lanes work well.

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        • Greg July 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

          You’re both essentially correct. Much of US bike infrastructure (door zone bike lanes that end in suicide slot placements, etc) sucks. And Dutch-level infrastructure is incredibly effective (and enables comfortable cycling at a lot more than 5 mph 🙂

          The trick is to get the real thing here when there are few Americans that understand the subtleties ….

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          • El Biciclero July 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

            I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but I don’t imagine the “real thing” consists of merely swapping the position of the bike lane and the parking lane.

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        • Erik Griswold July 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

          But John Forester has never ridden there,

          “Forester … said that, besides a childhood train journey through Holland before World War II, he has never been in the country. “However,” he told me in an e-mail, “I have several cycling associates who have cycled there, and they inform me that they didn’t like cycling there for reasons which I see as eminently reasonable and conforming to my feelings about the few imitations implemented here.”

          thus we must ignore any evidence there and listen only to the Cult of VC. Amen.

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          • spare_wheel July 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm

            i looked up and down this thread and i could not find a single poster who remotely sounds like JF. strawman.

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  • SilkySlim July 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    “Strong & Fearless, 18-34 Male” is one demographic I am definitely proud to represent. Let the 99% have their petty separated infrastructure – I ride the 405 bridge.

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    • Sunny July 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm


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    • dwainedibbly July 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Go for it! Now is the time to live the tales that you’ll tell your grandkids.

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  • sw resident July 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Dill’s study neglects the important question of: If it is raining do you ride your bike?

    The questions here, and in Geller’s, are all biased around the assumption that it is road facilities and traffic conditions that make the difference. Poor research design and confirmation bias. Sure, Dill is testing Geller’s study but that study was poorly designed for those reasons: it neglected important questions of environment (weather, topography, and distance) and was biased because it focused on infrastructure.
    I have yet to see a questionnaire that asks one of the most relevant Portland questions: If it didn’t rain a majority of the year, would you consider riding your bike?
    Or how about, “If you could shower and change your clothes at the end of your commute, would you commute to work by bike?”
    Not asking these questions assumes that these are not intervening variables in individuals’ decisions to ride or not ride.
    I would like to hear from Dill as to why she does not consider these variables to be important.
    I ride in all weather because I always have the facilities at each end of the trip to shower and change into dry clothes. If I didn’t I would never ride to work, let alone in the rain. For years most of my co-workers had no idea I biked to work in the rain and snow and that is how it should be.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Hi sw resident,

      You might want to take a look at the study PDF I link to. She actually does ask the group how much they ride in summer and how much they ride in winter. It’s on page 22 and 23. Cheers.

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      • sw resident July 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

        You might want to read the whole study carefully, as I did. The summer and winter question does not ask directly whether or not rain is an issue. By not addressing that variable directly it gets swept under the rug. The rain and post-ride comfort issue is as relevant as bike lanes, but no-one ever asks about it.
        By not making the rain issue explicit in the questionnaire, the outcome of the study makes it appear as though facilities and traffic are the issue.
        If they asked about post-ride facilities and rain then perhaps developers might start focusing on that as part of the puzzle in increasing bike ride commuters and the like.
        I say that there are more parts moving bike riding and commuting than this study leads one to believe.

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        • Sunny July 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm

          Rain is not so bad — there’s rain gear for that. Rain slicked streets and falling is painful and costly.

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          • jered July 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

            You slide better when you fall on the wet streets – less friction… dry hot asphalt tears off more skin.

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            • Sunny July 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

              What are you biking naked in the winter?

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        • Alex Reed July 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm

          And we all know that Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Tokyo have beautiful, Mediterranean, more or less rain-free climates. That is the #1 reason why so many people cycle there!

          Oh wait, they all get as much rain as we do and more snow… what excuse should I use now to say that Portland can’t get to a high mode share?

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          • Bike Bend July 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm

            But, as sw resident points out as an important component of bicycle commuting, does Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Tokyo have more end of ride amenities (showers, lockers for bikes and clothes, etc.) than Portland? If I was a betting person I’d bet all three have substantially more that Portland which would seem to help substantially with encouraging bicycle commuting. [Unfortunately Bend has so few end of ride amenities it’s not worth even a comment.]

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            • Alex Reed July 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

              I’ve never been to these places, so someone correct me if I’m wrong. But from reading blogs such as Amsterdamize and Copenhagenize I get the impression that 90% of the people on bikes in high-bike-mode-share cities wear normal clothes and go at quite a leisurely pace. As such, there is no need for them to change clothes or shower at their destination.

              Aside from their extensive on-road infrastructure, the only cycle facilities I’ve seen such blogs are the massive parking areas for literally thousands of bicycles at train station. I’m sure there are some showers and lockers but the emphasis I’ve seen has been on on-street infrastructure, traffic calming, and to a lesser extent parking areas.

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  • 9watts July 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Great stuff!

    But I’m having trouble imagining a strong-and-fearless non-cyclist.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      I knew someone would catch that!

      I think it’s because the question was asked “within the past 30 days”… so someone could be a strong/fearless rider who just happened to not have ridden in the past 30 days — or at least that’s my interpretation of the study.

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      • 9watts July 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        Now I see it. Slides 20 & 21.
        1.3% (33% of Strong and Fearless) are identified here as non-cyclists. That is a category I wasn’t aware of/will have to think more about.

        Same with Slide 14: “But, some people who are uncomfortable and are not interested in cycling more have bicycled for transportation in the past 30 days

        These two subcategories kind of muddy the waters, mix up (at least my) preconceptions about these categories and what people in them do/are inclined toward.

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    • Todd Boulanger July 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      Perhaps they are bungy bridge jumping shark infested water swimmers…

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  • Peter Buck July 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Interesting how few old “strong and fearless” cyclists there are. Presumably most cyclists become more conservative as they age rather than the less attractive alternative.

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    • Sunny July 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Or dead.

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    • spare_wheel July 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      or perhaps the numbers were too small or too biased to be statistically significant.

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      • Peter Buck July 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

        I think the answer is in slides 22 & 23. Strong and Fearless don’t actually ride any more than Interested but Concerned – maybe slightly less.

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    • CaptainKarma July 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      The study needs to separate age as a factor against *generation*. I believe the generations coming up will be more likely to cycle throughout their lifespan. Current seniors are likely to still have the *generational* attitude that “bikes are for kids”.

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    • Richard S July 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Well, there are a few of us out there that are still alive. And, we don’t get stronger as we get older, so I intend to make up for that by being more fearless!

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    • GlowBoy July 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      There are old cyclists, and there are bold cyclists, but there are very few old, bold cyclists.

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      • Jim H July 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm

        I consider myself one – I’m 59 and ride from SE to Swan Island five days a week year round. It seems odd that the “strong and fearless – util cyclist” category shows nobody in the 35-54 range.

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      • are July 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        i would argue the opposite. i am 59, and i am very assertive about my space on the road. a cyclist of any age, young or not so young, who hides at the edges of the road is much more likely to get hurt. because he or she is not seen, and because his or her movements are less predictable.

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      • spare_wheel July 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

        There are experienced cyclists, and there are timid cyclists, but there are very few experienced and timid cyclists.

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    • Bike Bend July 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Could it be that the old saw about pilots also might apply to cyclists? (the following is tongue in cheek): “There are bold cyclists and there are old cyclists but there are few old and bold cyclists”.

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  • Hart Noecker July 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I’d be very interested to know what factors contribute to non-riders feeling like getting on a bike is too dangerous, and what role being pressured to wear a helmet for normal commuting plays in that perception.

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  • Allan L July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    If you see categories with “and” or “but” in their names, you should be highly skeptical.

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  • was carless July 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’m amazed that more “strong and fearless” would feel safer on a 4 lane street with cars whizzing by at 35 mph, without ANY bike lane, than with separated facilities. You have got to be kidding me!

    Guess I’m in the “Enthused & Confident” group now. Although I’ve biked along highway 22 on the shoulder with cars doing 60+

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    • El Biciclero July 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      I think the term used for the survey was “comfortable”, not “safe”. Anyone might feel safe plodding along on the sidewalk, but it might not make them comfortable.

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    • Dave July 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      It didn’t say more felt better without the separated facilities, just a meaningful minority of around 1 in 10. I can count myself as one of them – it’s not that I won’t use something like the cycle track on Broadway, but I’m definitely more comfortable out in traffic than boxed into a lane between car doors and dog walkers.

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    • Todd Boulanger July 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Or it might be having to share the road with novice [<9 years old] cyclists…I have almost crashed more trying to share a path than the road [of course the severity of injury would be less]…think of all those kid missiles with training wheels on the Bridge Pedal that like to dart out just when you are passing. 😉

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      • Brad July 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

        Amen! I’ll take my chances with cars. Most of the crashes and near crashes that I have been in were due to inexperienced, overly timid, or just plain clueless MUP users and Bridge Pedal participants.

        Hasn’t this been studied and debated to death already? By the time we get improved infrastructure of some sort after placating EVERY possible demographic of potential bike rider, most of us here will be elderly retirees.

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    • Rob X July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      Here’s the explanation: It’s the width of pavement that helps, and if the pavement’s wide enough to share, it’s plenty safe. Putting the magic paint stripe on it doesn’t make it safer. It’s been shown that motorists pass closer if there’s a stripe, probably because they assume you’ll never cross over it, even if your way is blocked by road hazards. And there’s more trash in bike lanes than in equal width streets without them.

      BTW, “strong and fearless” as a label is evidence of Dill’s bias. She structures questions to see what she wants to see.

      Check out

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    • John Brooking July 24, 2012 at 4:51 am

      I do, because I control the lane. That means that overtakers change lanes to pass, as they would any other vehicle in a lane, which gives me MORE space than a 5 foot bike lane at the edge of the road would. It also makes me less likely to became a victim of a right-hook, left-cross, or drive-out crash than I would be riding at the edge of the road in a bike lane.

      Take a look at

      BTW, “strong and fearless” is a biased label. Why not “knowledgeable and confident”? I’m 46, and have been becoming more assertive about my space (not the same as aggressive) the longer I ride. I have fewer close calls, and get better passing behavior, further into the road than I used to have at the edge.

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  • was carless July 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Btw, just found this videon on youtube of a rolling green bike lane machine. Apparently they don’t need to hand-unroll and heat the thermoplastic anymore!

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    • CaptainKarma July 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      Commandeer that sucker and drive it up & down Hawthorne, N. Williams. Hmm, Sounds intriguing.

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  • spare_wheel July 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    i find it interesting that the apparent percentage of people who identified as S&F or E&C is far higher than Geller’s completely made up numbers. could it be that we might be able to reach 25% mode share by convincing more I&Cs to become S&Fs and E&Cs? it also appears to me that among the people who actually bike in pdx there is a preference for bike lanes as opposed to separated infrastructure.

    i would have loved to see sharrows/traffic-calming type infrastructure listed as an option. amster-hagen had 30-50% mode share for 50+ years with virtually no modern separated infrastructure.

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    • are July 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      i saw that too. six percent in dill’s study versus one percent in geller’s model. but only within the city proper.

      however, within dill’s six percent and nine percent you get some seemingly discordant results. a larger percentage worried about getting hit among the strong and fearless than among the enthused and confident (page 16). a weird dip in the middle of the numbers for enthused and confident for the number of days of utilitarian biking in summer months (page 22). nobody riding more than nineteen days utilitarian in winter months among the strong and fearless (page 23).

      some of this may be explained by the fact that fully only forty something percent of the strong and fearless think the places they need to get to are within biking distance (page 27 — meaning, they use some other mode to get there), and that ninety something percent of them think they have to wear special clothes, versus only sixty four percent of the enthused and confident (page 28 — meaning, i am not quite sure what, something about spandex).

      not sure how to square the large numbers on would like to learn more about how to ride safely in traffic with the near hundred percent numbers on already know how.

      one key point is shown but not flagged on the key slide, page 31. yes, a chunk of interested but concerned would be more comfortable on a four lane collecter or arterial if there was a separated facility, but among the enthused and confident and especially among the strong and fearless there is some pushback here. stripes, okay, but don’t make me use it. separated, not so much, thanks.

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      • spare_wheel July 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

        “there is some pushback here. stripes, okay, but don’t make me use it. separated, not so much, thanks.”

        i agree.

        i also think its interesting that the author did not provide a cycling mode breakdown for the “interested but concerned” based on their level of cycling. i am willing to bet that the “interested but concerned” who cycle frequently are far more comfortable with bike lanes than those who do not cycle frequently.

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        • eli bishop July 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm

          ding ding ding ding!

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    • Alex Reed July 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Or maybe the survey targeted those groups disproportionately in order to get a sufficient sample size (that way results are representative of those groups and not just due to randomly picking an unusual set of 3 “strong and fearless” cyclists). Of course, I’m too lazy to read the report (I should be working!) so this is just speculation based on what *I* would do if I had conducted this research….

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      • Alex Reed July 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        I’m wrong! Random sample! Sorry for spouting ill-informed ideas….

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    • Roger Geller July 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Hi spare_wheel,

      Actually, if you look at the 21st page of Dill’s pdf you’ll see that she found the percentage of strong & fearless and enthused & confident to be 4% and 9% respectively (I initially had them at less than 1% and 7%, respectively). Dill found the interested but concerned to be 56% of the population with the no way no how at 31%. Not too far off from my numbers. The point is that our target has to be the “interested but concerned” who make up close to 60% of the population. If we are unable to truly offer that group the choice of bicycling then we will not achieve our policy goals for transportation in Portland.

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      • spare_wheel July 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm

        The concentration of non-cyclists in the strong and fearless category of this study suggests that this “category” (at least in the context of this survey) is a bit of sociological legerdemain. Moreover, I suspect that a minority “strong and fearless” category/stereotype is useful for framing the pro-separated infrastructure point of view. In contrast to the idea that cyclists are fearful of non-separated infrastructure, this survey suggests that a majority of active cyclists are “very comfortable” in bike lanes. Maybe we should build more bike lanes and seek to dispel the mistaken fears that this type of infrastructure is unsafe.

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        • Peter Buck July 19, 2012 at 11:23 am

          Agreed. The Strong and Fearless don’t ride much (pages 22 & 23), don’t live close enough to ride to where they want to go (page 27) and don’t have/make the time to ride (page 28). The study suggests to me that their strong and fearless position is not one gained through actual experience. The Enthused and Confident category actually do ride, live close enough to places they need to go to ride there, and make the time to ride. Their use of infrastructure is a more convincing argument than the Strong and Fearless rejection of infrastructure. Full disclosure, I’m in the Enthused and Confident group myself.

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          • are July 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

            what the study suggests is that there may be at least two distinct camps who identify as strong and fearless, and that for some reason this survey did not capture a significant slice of one camp. those who ride twenty or more days per month in winter months. if your point is that is a small camp, whose needs are therefore less relevant, okay, that is your point.

            full disclosure, i am a strong a fearless cyclist who rides every day, regardless of season. i do not think sandy, for example, would be improved by striping bike lanes, certainly not by trying to install some kind of separated lanes. i am male, but it has been a very long time since i was 18 to 34.

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            • Peter Buck July 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

              You make a valid point, that there may be sub-groups within Strong and Fearless or maybe even two separate groups whose perspectives and riding traits are co-mingled in the current classification. I also don’t want to discount the perspective that all (or at least most) roads should be inherently safe for cyclists which I think is a central tenant of Strong & Fearless. I wish it were true. But I don’t understand why you think Sandy wouldn’t benefit from bike lanes. Echoing the sentiments of glowboy’s post, bicycling in Beaverton would be virtually impossible without bike lanes. WITH bike lanes, it’s possible to go anywhere on a bike you can go in a car with the exact same route – no sneaking about in so-called “greenways” required, just ride the road that goes where you want to go. The speed difference between cyclists and drivers is too great to share the same lanes without conflict. I would think Sandy would be similar.

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              • are July 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm

                bike lanes on sandy would at least nominally confine me farther right than is actually safest to ride, and would certainly give motorists something to point to in pushing me farther right. i do not presently feel limited to side streets, especially in lieu of a long diagonal (which is part of why i mentioned sandy). i will generally use klickitat rather than fremont, but not going rather than alberta or prescott, because the paving is inferior and because crossing at the key intersections — MLK, 15th, 33rd — are not signalized.

                also, i think the reason you see even lower acceptance among the strong and fearless for separated treatments (by which presumably is meant buffering with parked cars and the like) is that these actively prevent you from merging left to make left turns, and they create blind crossings at each and every intersection.

                to some extent, the study reflects what people imagine they want to see, but not necessarily what is actually best for them. it is of course true that if you do not build what people imagine they want to see, they will not come out. i do get that.

                i still find it weird that more than half say they would like more education and info, yet nearly a hundred percent say they already know how to ride safely. i guess i might give similar answers if i thought the question was, do i think other people need more education and info. it would be interesting to see the raw data, phrasing of the questions, etc.

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          • GlowBoy July 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

            Count me as proudly Enthused and Confident. I practice vehicular cycling when I don’t have bike facilities available, and I won’t completely avoid routes that require me to take the lane … but once the speed limit gets up to 30-35mph I sure do prefer to have bike facilities. I guess I’ve been around long enough to see the cumulative effects of even moderate risk. In my judgment, the increased risk of getting right hooked (which exists whether or not you have a bike lane) is overwhelmingly outweighed by the other safety and reduced-conflict benefits.

            About 25 minutes ago, BTW, I was riding along a 45mph roadway in Beaverton. NO WAY IN HELL would I have ridden there if there wasn’t a bike lane. Without bike lanes I would be driving to Beaverton every day.

            There are far greater numbers of us E&Cs than there are S&Fs. How come the S&Fs, and their rejection of bike facilities, sometimes seems to almost dominate BikePortland when the subject comes up?

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            • spare_wheel July 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

              While I consider myself strong, enthusiastic, and confident I am definitely fearful of inattentive or negligent motorists. IMO, the 1% S&F category is a stereotype designed to frame a pro-separated infrastructure argument. I also find it offensive that pro-separated cyclists routinely trot out the myth that experienced cyclists are “against all infrastructure” or foaming at the mouth john forester clones. IMO, this desire to tar experienced “year round” cyclists often stems from car head:

              Its easier to be accepting of slower speeds and restricted access when one also takes many trips by car.

              Its easier to accept the absence of a bike lane on a busier commercial street when you have another convenient transportation choice.

              Its easier to criticize cyclists who confidently and enthusiastically take the lane (instead of a greenway) when they delay you in your car.

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              • Alex Reed July 21, 2012 at 12:19 am

                Uh, if you go by infrastructure preference, I’m “interested but concerned” – but I bike for transportation year round! The existence of neighborhood greenways is absolutely crucial for me, because I refuse to bike even on roads with door-zone bike lanes like SE 7th and N Williams. One near-miss on Williams was enough for me…. Non-door-zone separated infrastructure please!

                I’m happy for y’all who choose to ride on 39th or Powell. I just want similarly convenient routes that are comfortable enough for me. Neighborhood greenways leave something to be desired on the speed, directness, and priority over cross-streets fronts….

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              • spare_wheel July 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

                a 6-8 foot bike lane is wide enough to avoid a door zone but this city has largely refused to paint bike lanes on heavily used commercial and neighborhood streets.

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    • Shamus July 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

      I’m just glad that someone finally attempted to do an actual scientific survey/study to explore Roger’s theory. Roger’s theory was created as an educated guess, and as a useful tool for discussion purposes, but it was never based on any real study or numbers. But I’ve found over the last few years, people all over the country were started to cite Roger’s numbers when making policy decisions (or making the case for certain policies) as if they were based on an actual scientific study. I’m glad that study now exists and is open to peer review so we can make sounder arguments when advocating for better facilities.

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  • Zaphod July 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    was carless
    Btw, just found this videon on youtube of a rolling green bike lane machine. Apparently they don’t need to hand-unroll and heat the thermoplastic anymore!
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    That link is worth a view. If we’re needing to reduce costs in both application and maintenance, it looks pretty good at first glance

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    • Todd Boulanger July 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      This is the same (or similar) application and material used in the UK for high contrast bike lanes and bike boxes. I have ridden on it for years. I assume the PDoT staff have studied it and chose the other (thermo plastic) material for good reason at the time of the last flurry of projects. (Most likely it was a cost issue due to the lack of local contractors who could perform and warranty such work 5+ years ago – my assumption.)

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  • spare_wheel July 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    according to the linked report 36% of respondents categorized as S&F were non cyclists (only 23% of E&Fs were non cyclists)! the gender bias between S&F and E&F largely disappears if you exclude non-cyclists. 100% of S&F non-cyclists were 18-34.

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  • Alain July 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t see myself falling into one of Geller’s categories. Not to say they are not insightful or help represent the general reasons for why a person rides a bicycle or does not. As categories of riders go, they are pretty good.

    For me…

    “Interested but concerned”, would better read “experienced but concerned”

    “Enthused and confident”, would better read “Enthused and uninsured”, medical insurance that is.

    Lack of medical insurance has definitely affect my riding habits, and provided a bit of nervousness each time I am on the bike. Being “fearless” or “confident” might have something to do with having medical coverage.

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    • CaptainKarma July 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      VERY valid point which needs to be included in these discussions, and hopefully resolved.

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  • Champs July 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I’m pretty sure I fall somewhere between Strong/Enthused and Fearless/Confident, but parked car buffers still give me the jeebies.

    I’d much rather pass slower riders in a lane of traffic than the door zone.

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    • A.K. July 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Yeah that’s where I fall too, and my comfort totally depends on the road situation.

      I ride on Marine Drive, HWY 30, the Historic Columbia River HWY up into the gorge, etc. with no issues – but I know there are people who refuse to ride those routes because they don’t feel safe.

      On the other hand, there are streets in Portland I dislike and avoid unless it’s very early in the morning on a weekend, otherwise I just don’t feel comfortable. For example I’ll ride on Sandy or 82nd Ave if it’s 7 am on a Sunday, but not at 6 PM on a weeknight.

      Totally depends on the street, speed of traffic, and the general “attitude” of drivers in the area.

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  • Sunny July 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I know a former Recon Marine(special forces for the Marines) that had testicular cancer and so has to have testosterone injections every 2 weeks. At the tail end of those two weeks he turns into a whiny pussycat, but then he gets the injection and he’s back to tough as nails. I have no solutions here just commentary.

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  • Racer X July 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    …for now it might be cheaper for the City to invest in testosterone injections (or donuts handed out by Voodoo Donuts on the Hawthorne Bridge) for all ‘interested and concerned cyclists’ on the weekends.

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  • jim July 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    It seems funny to me to see these catagories named like this. If I were to make a survey I would have done it a lot differently. The kid in the story a few days ago that rode his bike in front of the max train was obviously fearless but so is the guy riding mlk next to a semi trailer. I wouldn’t put them both in the same catagorie. The kid would go in the idiot catagory where the dude on mlk would be in the foolish catagorie. There are so many groups that could be created, fixies, roques, speedsters, wanna be a speedsters, old and slow/ cautious, cruisers, mountain bikers/ bmx’rs, DUI lost my licensers, frugal- save a bucksters by riding to work, school kids,…
    Same with other modes of transportation. Ninja motorcyclists that weave through traffic, carefull riders on a classic hog…

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  • Kate July 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I think it’s a good start for this type of research. Like SW resident, above, I’d like to see a similar study about willingness to ride in different weather conditions and willingness to ride if there were facilities available at work to counteract “getting all sweaty” which is the #2 (after fear of cars) reason that I hear from people about why they don’t want to ride to work or school. I know this is Portland and lots of workplaces have these facilities now but it’s certainly not the norm.

    I have no problem bringing a change of clothes and using a stall in a public bathroom but there are certainly folks who wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that (and I once had security called on me in an office building where I was temping because someone thought I was a vagrant or something–I laughed).

    And others have told me that they feel like cycling or arriving somewhere being a little sweaty makes them seem “less professional” to others, even in Portland. I know some of my (former) co-workers and superiors have felt this way about me. I have not let it bother me because, I’m a *health-care* professional so I just say something about being a good role model for my patients while saving time and money by not having to go to a gym for exercise.

    I’m supposed to *drive* to work just to seem professional to my peers as a health-care provider? Yeah, that’s really healthy, hahahaha….but still, these folks really equate a certain level professionalism and taking people seriously with going to a gym for exercise and driving a fancy car to work. How about another study on perceptions/stereotypes of cyclists and impact on willingness to cycle?

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    • 9watts July 19, 2012 at 7:21 am


      like you I am well aware of the common perceptions here in the US that biking to work -> sweating ->difficulty managing arrival, being presentable at work. But this is largely a function of our social norms and the difficulty some people have separating exercise from getting to work. It is quite possible–for most of us who aren’t crossing the West Hills at least–to bike at a rate (certainly in Portland’s climate) where you don’t sweat on your way to work, or where the amount of perspiration is modest and manageable with some layering, etc.

      I guess what I’m saying is that the #2 reason you list above for not riding to work is at least as much cultural as physical. People in most other countries who bike (to work) don’t expect to shower and change clothes upon their arrival. I’d wager they’d mostly find this conversation hilarious.
      Talking about it, comparing notes, calling into question some of the premises, is I think an important step toward eroding the cultural and class anxieties around this topic.

      Lani posted an absolutely delightful comment here recently (July 5, 9:16 am on Emily Finch story) about how she manages to fool her colleagues into thinking she got to work by means other than a bike.

      “Do my bosses and colleagues care that I don’t have a car? Not a whit. I’m an arts publicist and often need to be sleekly dressed and well coiffed — a stash of baby wipes, a desk drawer full of shoes and dresses, and a good hair clip make all the difference.”

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      • Alex Reed July 21, 2012 at 12:24 am

        I bike to work and don’t shower or anything at work! Granted, my commute is shorter than many at 4 miles each way. I just wear my business casual clothes (I have a chainguard – love it!), go slow so I don’t sweat, and enjoy my leisurely morning ride.

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  • Mickey July 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    For the section “If or when I ride a bike, I’m concerned about being hit by a motor vehicle” they left out the subcategory “I strap a video-camera to my head before I ride my bicycle.”

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  • resopmok July 19, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Here it is! statistics never lie, always tell the whole story and in this case, prove that we need to have separated infrastructure so we can get that interested but too lazy to get on their bikes group onto the roads. Forget better driver training, stricter licensing procedures or anything else we can do for less than a billion dollars, let’s build grade separated cycle tracks EVERYWHERE.

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  • Justin July 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

    More information on the context, goals and methodology for this research are on the OTREC project page:

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  • Rithy July 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

    sw resident
    Dill’s study neglects the important question of: If it is raining do you ride your bike?

    While you point is valid, it has been found in multiple studies that while rain is a factor in deciding whether to bicycle, it isn’t as important as a determinant as infrastructure.

    Researchers like Nelson and Allen, John Putcher and later Professor Dill have all used rain in long term studies and found in most cases it was not statistically significant or the results were more mixed and nuanced. However there is overwhelming support that as you add infrastructure you get more bicyclists.

    Anecdotally and also backed with research the best cities in the United States for cycling are places that are generally wet and/or snowy. Minneapolis, Portland, SF, Seattle. Whereas cities that should be great for bicycling due to weather (i.e. – LA, most of Florida) aren’t as strong.

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  • Andrew July 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Just curious

    Would 100 grand in bicycle injury insurance for $40 a year alleviate your concerns? Would having it make you feel free to take, “riskier” (by your own perception) bicycle trips on busier roads with less infrastructure?

    Would you change your transportation behavior at all if you had it?

    Lack of medical insurance has definitely affect my riding habits, and provided a bit of nervousness each time I am on the bike. Being “fearless” or “confident” might have something to do with having medical coverage.
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  • Dave Thomson July 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    While we can certainly can and should continue to improve our cycling infrastructure, law enforcement, and driver and cyclist training to reduce crashes, the biggest issue with the “interested but concerned” is their PERCEPTION that cycling is dangerous.The key here is that THEIR PERCEPTION IS WRONG; studies show cycling is no more dangerous than other activities they engage in that they do not see as dangerous. In my view building a few blocks (or even a few miles) of separated bike facilities just reinforces their view that it is unsafe to ride anywhere else. So instead of trying to build infrastructure to fit their incorrect risk assessment, we need to educate people so that their perception of risk more closely fits reality. Then we can use the money we save by not trying to build our way out of a perception problem to provide cost-effective and safe infrastructure (bike lanes, bike boxes, etc.) on a much larger percentage of Oregon roads.

    A lot of that education is already happening by default; as the “interested but concerned” see more and more people on bikes every day some of them decide it can’t be so bad, they try it, they add to the number of people on bikes, and around it goes. That cycle has accelerated over the past 10 years and will continue, whether or not we build separated bike facilities.

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    • spare_wheel July 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Education and bike lanes!

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    • Bike Bend July 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      I totally agree. In general people who don’t rock climb perceive it as very dangerous and only done by those who have a “death wish” when actually, properly done using ropes and gear, rock climbing is safer than cycling or skiing. Maybe if belay ropes were introduced to cycling or skiing they too would be “safe”. (that was sarcasm folks)

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  • Dabby July 20, 2012 at 1:02 am

    No way no how obviously means not a cyclist….
    So why whould it be considered a type of cyclist?
    It shouldn ‘t be.

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    • Simon Kennett April 17, 2014 at 4:27 am

      It’s possible to be a cyclist who uses paths off-road and also be in the ‘No way, no how’ category as far as on-road cycling is concerned.

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  • jim July 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Depending on which category you fit into, would that affect your insurance rates? Surely an aggressive rider is a higher risk than someone who only strolls on bike trails.

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    • are July 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      “aggressive” was not one of the categories, but if you are referring to “strong and fearless” [or “confident and assertive” maybe], i think you might find the statistics would show that these are the people who are least likely to get into crashes. i know that has been my own experience.

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      • jim July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

        Correction, Somebody that only rides on bike paths is going to be less likely to crash than an assertive rider riding MLK next to a dumptruck.

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        • 9watts July 25, 2012 at 7:11 am

          “Correction, Somebody that only rides on bike paths is going to be less likely to crash than an assertive rider riding MLK next to a dumptruck.”

          What happens when the person riding on a bike path has to leave that path (to get where she is going or to get to the bike path)?

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        • are July 25, 2012 at 8:18 am

          do you have data to back that up? last report i saw said most bike related injuries were incurred by people falling off their bikes or hitting a crack in the pavement.

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  • Bike Bend July 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    A bit off topic but I find it fascinating that in Bend many of the local “strong and fearless” mountain bikers who happily seek out potentially dangerous rock gardens, wood features and jumps to grab air won’t road ride with me because they say it’s ‘too dangerous’ because there are cars to content with. Does anyone know if there are any studies that compare the dangers of riding single track (mountain bike) vs. tarmac (road bike) out there?

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    • Sunny July 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      In mountain biking, you run in to hard objects. In road riding, hard objects run in to you.

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  • Tourbiker July 21, 2012 at 6:50 am

    As a “strong & fearless” over 50, I believe they’re are alot more of us than you may be aware of.
    we ride because we ride..we know the risks. we don’t expect to see “changes ” even though we see the need.
    like separated lanes from cagers.
    like dedicated bike infrastructure moving bikes like a highway
    like sharing a max service road next to a rail line
    like piggybacking on a max thru sylvan
    like actually using the Vulnerable User Law
    I ride cause I get to slow my mind, to recharge the batteries…to enjoy the quietness of the morning, & feel my lungs.
    knowing…each ride may be my last…and riding anyway.
    I respect your youth…your desire to make a’s what we did with Rock & Roll.

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  • Red July 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    “There are old cyclists, and there are bold cyclists, but there are very few old, bold cyclists.”

    I ride. I’m 57. I’m generally invisible to people under 35. I’m the only person in my office out of 100 employees, average age in the mid-30s, who rides. It’s the young’uns who tell me I’m too old, it’s too far, its too dangerous………

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    • resopmok July 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      That’s cause most people in my generation and younger were brought up to believe they are entitled to some cush office job because they went to college and don’t know the meaning of a hard day’s work, everyday. They don’t know what risk and pain really mean, and anything which threatens their upper middle-class lifestyle is either a joke or a terrorist threat.

      If you think our economy and international influence got screwed up by the dolts in office over the last twenty years, just wait until these folks get a hold of the reigns.

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