Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on May 10th, 2017 at 9:31 am
In 2009, the City of Portland set a goal that many people considered fanciful: one in four trips by bike citywide by 2030.
Eight years later, that’s exactly the ratio of car-owners in the Portland metro area who claim they’d swap their car trips for bike trips “if traffic congestion gets bad enough.”
That ratio held across racial and ideological lines, and was only slightly lower in Clark County, Wash., than on the Oregon side of the metro area. But it wasn’t consistent by gender, age, income or education: women, older people, higher-income people and more educated people were less likely to say they’d switch to biking.
Among Portland-area residents aged 18 to 34, 44 percent said they’d use a bike if congestion got bad enough.
The results came in a KATU-TV poll made public last month. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
None of the above figures included the 12 percent of Portland-area residents who said they don’t own a car.
A similar ratio of Portland-area residents, 25 percent, said they either “regularly” or “occasionally” ride a bike today. (One’s likelihood of riding at least “occasionally” was nearly identical across racial, ideological and income lines, and it held whether or not a person owned a car. But if you didn’t own a car or had a lower income, you were much more likely to report that you “regularly” rode a bike.)
It’s not clear if or how answers on this question have been changing over the years. And (cue the BikePortland haters) this isn’t an argument that traffic congestion is a good thing in its own right.
But it is a useful snapshot of how many people can conceive of switching to a bicycle for daily transportation.
As bike-skeptics love to point out, bicycles aren’t a solution for everyone. But they are, apparently, a possible solution for 25 percent of car owners. And that’s with the spaghetti-against-a-wall biking network the Portland area has today.
A couple other interesting findings from the survey:
About the same number of people said they would switch to a bike if gas prices got high enough
People under age 50 are more than twice as likely to endorse “widening highways” as the top priority for transportation funds
…but that’s still less popular than “maintaining and repairing existing roads.”
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks to Jessica Roberts for the tip.
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