Factors Associated with Leisure-time Bicycling among Adults in the United States: An Urban-Rural Comparison

Eugene Fitzhugh, PhD1, James Roemmich, PhD2, Christiaan Abildso, PhD, MPH3, Carissa Smock, PhD, MPH4, Zachary Townsend, PhD5, Laura Balis, PhD6, Jeanette Gustat, PhD, MPH7, Debra Kellstedt, DrPH8 (1)University of Tennessee, Knoxville, (2)United States Department of Agriculture, (3)West Virginia University, (4)Northcentral University, (5)Salisbury University, (6)Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, (7)Tulane University, (8)Texas A&M University

APHA 2022 Annual Meeting and Expo

Introduction and Objective: Leisure-time (LT) bicycling poses unique barriers that must be overcome, including high costs of and access to equipment, and safe places to ride. Bicycling in rural US areas is further complicated by the relative lack of safe cycling infrastructure that may limit the population of people who adopt bicycling as a LT activity. Unknown, however, are whether there are differences in the prevalence of riding, or differences in rider characteristics across urban-rural settings. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the prevalence and profile of LT bicyclists differs between populations living in urban and rural settings. Methods: 2019 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System data from adults (N=396,261) who reported up to 2 LT physical activities over the past month were analyzed. The prevalence of adults who reported bicycling across demographics and urban/rural counties in the US were identified using the 2013 NCHS Urban/Rural Classification Scheme. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine whether the prevalence of adults who report bicycling was associated with urban/rural classification of residence. Analyses were conducted using SUDAAN. Results: The prevalence of LT bicycling among US adults was 3.8% (95% CI 3.7-3.9), and was greater in urban counties (3.9%, 95% CI 3.8-4.1) compared to rural counties (2.3%, 95% CI 2.1-2.6). For bicyclists in urban counties, significant trends were noted across gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, income, perceived health, and BMI. Conversely, among bicyclists in rural counties, trends were limited to gender, perceived health, and BMI. Adults in urban counties were more likely to bicycle across 8 months of the year (April-November), while rural bicycling was more likely only from June to September. Conclusions: Compared to those living in more urban counties, adults living in rural US counties are less likely to engage in leisure-time bicycling. Few demographics associate with bicycling in rural counties, which suggests that bicycling-related barriers in rural counties impact adults across all sub-populations. Cyclists in more urban counties may be able to cycle across many more months of the year because of safer cycling infrastructure (e.g., bike lanes, greenways, shoulders on roads).