In 2006, Roger Geller, the Bicycle Coordinator for Portland, Oregon, released a paper that proposed a new typology of cyclists, entitled “Four Types of Cyclists.” Based on years of experience and a variety of data, he identified four types of cyclists: Strong and Fearless, Enthused and Confident, Interested but Concerned, and No Way No How. He estimated that about 60% of the adults in Portland fell into the Interested but Concerned category, described as “curious about bicycling” “they would like to ride more. But, they are afraid to ride.” “They would ride if they felt safer on the roadways—if cars were slower and less frequent, and if there were more quiet streets with few cars and paths without any cars at all.” This typology helped shape much of Portland’s current bicycling planning efforts and has spread to other cities.
In 2011, I, with researcher Nathan McNeil, conducted a random phone survey in Portland to help validate the typology and understand the types better. We found that the distribution was remarkably close to Geller’s estimate: 60% of adults in the city and 56% in the region fell into the Interested but Concerned category. In 2015, we replicated the survey, though using an abbreviated version, in a sample of adults in the 50 largest metro regions in the U.S. The results were pretty similar.
For more details on our work:
- Jennifer Dill and Nathan McNeil, “Four Types of Cyclists? Examination of Typology for Better Understanding of Bicycling Behavior and Potential,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2387: 129-138, 2013.
- Presentation on the Portland Survey.
- Jennifer Dill and Nathan McNeil, “Revisiting the Four Types of Cyclists: Findings from a National Survey,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2587: 90-99, 2016.
- Webinar on the national survey
Funding for this research came from the City of Portland, OTREC, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, and the National Association of Realtors.