Santa Clara County bike survey part 2: reasons for choosing a travel mode

SVBC screen capture showing why people choose a mode of transportation.


The next segment, why travelers select their modes of travel, reveals one obvious trend and one that’s a real surprise.

Not surprisingly, 82 percent of respondents said that “speed” is important or very important in deciding which form of transportation they use for daily travel.

Everyone wants to arrive at their destination in the fastest time possible, which is why the car dominates travel choices, especially in the sprawling South Bay.

What amazed me though is the second most important factor in choosing a transportation mode: safety from crime. It won out over ease of use, safety from crashes, enjoyment, cost, environmental concerns, and a desire for exercise. Really? Is crime that much of a problem for commuters?

All I can guess is that everyone who took the survey uses BART. I’m only half kidding here. BART has become much less safe for travelers in recent years.

Another possibility is that a lot of parked cars are being broken into (a real problem in San Francisco). The question did not focus on bike theft as being a factor in crime. Because so few people ride bikes, it makes sense that bike thefts were not a major reason for safety from crime being a concern.

One of the more sobering results, which disappointed me, was how poorly exercise and concern for the environment contributed to a choice for transportation. Only 46 percent of respondents consider the environment very important or important in choosing a form of transportation.

Even worse, only 34 percent of respondents considered the need for exercise very important or important in selecting a transportation mode.

Helping the environment and exercise are the two most important reasons why I rode a bike to work in my 45-year career.

These results are both disappointing and mystifying.

One Response to “Santa Clara County bike survey part 2: reasons for choosing a travel mode”

  1. Brent Pearse (@brentpearse) Says:

    I just found your blog several months ago and I have been enjoying reading about the Valley’s history and cycling. Regarding Denmark and the Netherlands, when you survey there, speed and safety are also overwhelmingly number 1 and 2 reasons why people ride their bikes, health is 3 or 4 and the environment is always pretty low. I was surprised by this at first. My thought is if everyone is already riding perhaps the environment becomes less of an issue then.

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