Study: Low Income People Ride More


By Charles Pekow — It seems that a lot of people ride bikes because of the expense of auto fuel. Even when they own cars, low-income households take a third more bike trips than wealthier folks. At least that’s true in suburbs and exurbs – but not in cities. This is according to an North Carolina State University analysis of the three most recent National Household Travel Surveys, completed in 2001, 2009 and 2017 by the Federal Highway Administration.

A new study shows that low income people ride more. Photo by Dave Iltis

“After controlling for a number of observed and unobserved factors, we find that individuals in low-income, car-owning households are associated with up to 14 percent more walking trips and 33 percent more cycling trips in a week compared to higher-income households, on average,” the researchers concluded.

In other words, this cohort of people are riding because they can’t afford to travel by automobile. Even if they own cars, the costs of using them restrict driving.

See “Active Travel among Carless and Car-Owning Low-Income Populations in the United States” at


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