MOUNT PROSPECT, IL (BRAIN)—After wavering in the recent years around the 40 million mark, bicycle participation got a shot in the arm in 2008 as 44.7 million participated on asphalt and dirt.
“Bicycling got a nice bounce this year,” said Thomas Doyle, vice president of information and research for the National Sporting Goods Association.
Exercise walking, which experienced 7.6 percent growth in 2008, remains the No. 1 participant activity surveyed by the NSGA, a position it has held since 1990. Data contained in NSGA’s annual “Sports Participation – Series I and II” report available in May shows that 96.6 million Americans walked for exercise in 2008.
Although he hasn’t thoroughly analyzed NSGA’s recent findings, Doyle thinks bicycling’s 4 million spike lies with the youth. According to Doyle, the 7-11 age group saw a 10 percent increase in 2008, jumping from 36 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2008.
Doyle hypothesizes that this jump could have something to do with no major trendy items in the scooter and inline skating world introduced in the last few years, forcing more young kids back onto their bikes. Moreover, families are getting more involved in the sport, Doyle added.
The 12-17 age range saw a 10 percent increase as well, jumping from 26 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2008. Doyle attributes this to more automobile restrictions being placed on kids, whether it be do to higher gas prices or the down economy where parents can’t afford to buy cars for their children, Doyle said.
Bicycling finished in sixth place with 11.4 percent participation. Swimming finished second, exercise and equipment finished third, bowling finished fourth and camping finished fifth.