A survey conducted earlier this year by Maryland’s Office of Tourism, Department of Business and Economic Development (in collaboration with Bike Maryland, the Department of Transportation, the Highway Administration, and others) has shown that cyclists in Maryland are a tech-savvy, safety-conscious group that primarily uses their bikes for health benefits or pleasure. The survey, which was open to the public from May to October 2011, received 2,300 submissions and concerned cycling habits, map resource use and preferences, demographic information, and more. The key findings of the survey are as folows:
- The top motivating factors for cycling are health benefits and for pleasure – 95 percent of respondents recognize these as leading factors – followed by environmental reasons.
- The top four activities for all respondents were: enjoying outdoors and nature, going to restaurants for food and beverages, shopping, and visiting friends.
- 75 percent of cyclists sometimes or always use paper maps to plan cycling trips. Of those who have seen the Maryland Bicycle Map, more than 65 percent reported that the Maryland Bicycle Map was useful.
- The overwhelming majority of survey respondents also reported using online maps to plan bicycle trips – 85 percent use them currently. A little over half of respondents reported at least sometimes using navigational devices while on their trip. Google Maps is the most popular web service for planning and navigating a trip.
- Respondents across the board showed the most support for a map in a mobile application format. Additionally, they would be most interested in having a map that shows connections to local bike routes, parks and off-road trails, followed by type of riding surface and bike shops.
- More than half of respondents reported that the amount of traffic, surface type and smoothness of the road, and speed of traffic were most important to them. Additionally, almost half listed continuous, safe routes and shoulder width as important.
- For amenities, more than half of respondents reported that scenic views, parks, points of interest, and restrooms were most important to them – followed closely by food services.
The Office of Tourism and its partners in Annapolis have rightly interpreted these findings as a call for the state to engage with online resources that cyclists already use, such as Google Maps, while continuing production of the Department of Transportation’s Maryland Cycle Map. The conclusions section also includes a vow to use survey respondents to test any new products and services offered.
This very interesting and thoughtful survey missed an opportunity to learn about the infrastructure improvements bicyclists see as important for their continued and increasing use of bicycling for purposes beyond health and pleasure. Since 45% of respondents use a bicycle for their commute to work, respondents would have been able to identify priority funding areas the state could target that might result in increasing the number of bicycle commuters in the years ahead. In particular, efforts to make densely populate areas more bike-friendly should be a concern for state policymakers interested in reducing congestion and promoting physical fitness.
Read the full survey report here.