Why Is Cycling Much More Popular in Europe than in the USA?

We all know them, our two-wheeled companions without a motor (although that’s not necessarily true these days, we’ll come to that later) – the bicycle! Even though cycling is currently experiencing a real boom in the United States, bikes are still miles ahead on the popularity scale in Europe. Why is that?

Why cycling at all?

Firstly, let’s take a look at why people are cycling in the first place – after all, there are far more convenient ways to get from A to B. However, there are many good reasons to cycle instead of using the car, bus or train:

  1. Cycling is healthy
  2. Less costs and more time
  3. Cycling is environmentally friendly
  4. Cycling is fun!

The health aspect of cycling is actually self-explanatory. Exercise makes you fit, strengthens the cardiovascular system and boosts the burning of calories. Cycling is also a low-impact sport that – like swimming, for example – hardly puts any strain on the joints. So you don’t have to be in top physical shape to enjoy the benefits of cycling – but that doesn’t mean it’s not also suitable as an extreme sport.

What is a decisive argument for many: cycling is cheap. The purchase and regular maintenance of a bicycle cannot be compared with the cost of maintaining a car, petrol prices or public transport tickets. Do you know the feeling of cycling past an endless queue of waiting cars in the middle of rush hour traffic? Often you can actually get to your destination faster by bike than by car – and unlike buses and trains, a bike can’t be delayed either.

Nowadays it is possible to determine and influence the size of your own ecological footprint. Cycling is a simple option for protecting the environment: It does not produce exhaust gases such as carbon dioxide, nor does it burn resources.

The fourth and most important reason: cycling is fun! A bit of exercise in the fresh air in good weather releases plenty of endorphins. In general, regular exercise makes us feel better – both physically and mentally. Cycling together is also a perfect activity for groups of friends: Exploring the city or countryside together, perhaps having a picnic somewhere and being active at the same time – what more could anyone want?

So there are many reasons in favour of cycling that affect us all in different ways. The question now is: How is it that the desire to cycle is so much more pronounced in Europe than in America? We are now going to unravel this mystery.


First of all, it must be said that bikes have also become increasingly popular in the United States. However, compared to Europe, this is negligible. It is interesting to note that the increasing number of people cycling in the USA can largely be grouped together: Young people in particular, who are educated and primarily white and spend time in urban areas, are switching to bikes more often. This is mainly due to the fact that cycling is considered “chic” and modern in these circles. Sustainability has become a trend in this generation – but it could be that this will level off again. Furthermore, this small percentage of people cycling is not enough to really make a difference.

In Europe, it is simply the case that far more people belong to this group. The mere fact that the USA has much more rural areas means that many people do not grow up in so-called “university towns” or in urban areas at all. In Europe, the distribution of the population looks very different.

So what can be done? Cycling should also be made attractive to other groups of people, such as older people, people from the countryside and low-income families. However, cycling often does not fit in with their lifestyle: it is seen as children’s stuff. Cars are a powerful status symbol in the USA and cycling is often perceived as embarrassing. In Europe, on the other hand, it is often the other way round: people who cycle are seen as sporty and environmentally conscious, while fat SUVs in the city are often viewed with a disdainful eye.

Bicycle-friendly cities

Another important point in which the United States differs from Europe is the bicycle-friendliness of its cities. After all, cycling on broken roads, bumpy paths or, in the worst case, in the middle of city traffic is no fun for anyone – not even the most passionate cyclist.

Even if Europe is not always a prime example in this respect, it is still miles ahead of America. But what actually characterises a bicycle-friendly city? The Hanseatic city is characterised not only by designated cycle paths along beautiful landscapes, but also by wide cycle lanes on or next to roads that are clearly colour-coded and well-maintained. This allows cyclists to feel safe as they do not come into contact with motor traffic and at the same time does not pose a danger to pedestrians.

Cycle paths are not uncommon in Europe, even if they are not always maintained to a high standard. In America, however, the situation is quite different: Especially in large cities, the tight and fast city traffic is by no means a friendly environment for cyclists. Often there are no cycle paths at all, or they are narrow and often lead straight through the city without any bypass routes. It is therefore quite clear that such external circumstances also have an impact on residents’ desire to cycle.

Political decisions

Who actually decides how cycle-friendly a city becomes? In most cases, the answer is: the government of the city or municipality. It is public funds that finance well-developed cycle paths. This means that bike-friendliness is ultimately a political decision and it depends on how much public officials prioritise the ability of citizens to cycle.

However, good cycle paths are not the only decision that is made at a political level and that has an influence on the general popularity of cycling. If you live in a large city, you are probably familiar with the principle of hiring bikes. These bikes are freely available on the street and anyone who has registered with the relevant provider can simply ride them – for little money or even free of charge. In most cases, it is private companies that offer these rental bikes – in this case, it depends on how much the city supports the project financially or how favourable or unfavourable the framework conditions are.

Generally speaking, it can be said: America is spending less money on bicycles – be it on cycle paths, supporting hire bikes or even manufacturing bikes at home. Of course, this is not good for the desire to cycle – the decision to do without a car is not supported as much from outside as in Europe.

Another example of this is the cost of bicycles on the railway. As you may know, in many places you have to buy an extra ticket if you want to transport a bike on the train. In Europe, the trend is becoming more and more “pro-bike”, with the cost of the bike ticket being reduced or even completely eliminated. However, taking your bike on the train for free is a principle that is – at least so far – still alien in the United States. It is quite clear that people prefer to leave their bikes at home.

Prefer to stay indoors?

Of course, despite all the good arguments, cycling is not a “must” – not even in Europe. Some people prefer to stay indoors rather than expose themselves to the wind and weather. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities you can do at home – such as gambling. You heard right: nowadays you no longer have to drive (or cycle) to the nearest casino. You can now also gamble from home. At Richard casino, for example, you can find a wide range of slot machines that you can even enjoy for free – because Richardcasino is a website that focuses entirely on your free gaming pleasure. Do not forget to use Richard casino no deposit bonus codes. Here you will find everything from well-known providers to secret insider tips.

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Cycling is healthy, good for the environment, fun and saves money – the whole world can actually agree on these points. On a smaller scale, however, there are big differences between the individual regions, including between Europe and America.