Bicycle commuting is a relatively common in many parts of Europe, China and India, but less so elsewhere. While it is gaining support in the United States — a federal tax break for bicycle commuters became law in 2008 — it remains significantly less popular here than abroad.
In a 2010 study published in Transport Policy, “U.S. Immigrants and Bicycling: Two-wheeled in Autopia,” a UCLA researcher found evidence of a bicycling “immigrant effect”: Recently arrivals are significantly more likely to commute by bicycle than native-born Americans, but the effect is reduced over time.
The paper finds that:
- New immigrants are 41 times more likely to choose cycling over driving compared with native-born Americans. This likelihood is reduced by half in the first four years.
- The probability of using bicycles falls as incomes rise and immigrants substitute cycling with other forms of transportation.
- Immigrants from East and Southeast Asia are more likely to use the bicycle compared to other immigrant groups and native-born Americans.
The author suggests that future research look at factors that affect immigrants’ bicycle use to better inform future policy-making. These could include advocacy efforts, addressing transportation constraints that immigrants face and involving immigrants in the bicycle policy planning process.
Tags: bicycling, bicycle, bikes, Asia, Europe