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People for Bikes Sponsored Series

The Business Of Biking

Study: How Cyclists Think About Sustainability

By Katie Dunn

This past April, the leaders of the U.S. bicycle industry gathered to discuss the future of bicycling through presentations, panel discussions and daily bike rides in Monterey, CA, for the Bicycle Leadership Conference. 

As a part of this event, Walden Hyde, Specialized, the Outdoor Industry Association, and REI participated in a panel discussion dubbed Sustainability in the Bike Industry: A Full Life-Cycle Opportunity. While some panelists focused on parallels with the outdoor industry and lessons learned from the Higg Index, Walden Hyde spoke about how cyclists think about sustainability, and how this should guide brands to take a look at all aspects of their companies—from production to new product development and marketing.

Walden Hyde’s findings were drawn from the study it conducted to better understand what people who ride (and buy) bicycles think about sustainability, both in general and as it relates to bikes. Nearly 1,000 people from across the country—representing a wide range of riders, from casual cyclists to serious racers—participated in a survey, and the Walden Hyde team conducted a “deep dive” with a diverse group of ten cycling enthusiasts from all over the U.S. These in-depth conversations provided perspective on how sustainability stacks up in the day-to-day lives of people who can’t live without their bikes.

The result? Even though people’s best sustainability intentions don’t necessarily translate into consistent action, cyclists of all ages, tire preferences and political persuasions are thinking about sustainability. Eighty-seven percent of cyclists surveyed think about sustainability in some way when making purchasing decisions: 22 percent self-identify as eco shoppers, 45 percent said they buy green sometimes, and 20 percent remarked that they are open to sustainable options when shopping.

A majority of survey participants stated that while they consider a bicycle a sustainable product because it saves gas by replacing driving, they had never considered the overall environmental and social sustainability of bicycles.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said they would pay more for a bicycle made with sustainable materials and labor practices. And a majority of those who said they’d pay more were women (despite the majority of survey respondents being men). Survey responses often uncover people’s intentions, rather than their actions, but the deep dive interviews confirmed similar results.

Even if people aren’t critically thinking about the sustainability of their bikes, they are making more sustainable choices in other aspects of their lives. As a result, there’s an opportunity for a company to rise above its competitors by leading in sustainability, provided it is positioned in the right way.

Check out the video below to find out more and see some amazing cycling footage. Want to know even more? The full report digs into the intricacies of what sustainability means to bike consumers—and what it should mean to bike brands.



Katie Dunn is a poster child for Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. She puts her mad skills to work every day as a Senior Strategist at Walden Hyde. Besides her Jersey roots, here’s another little secret; this systems-thinking, social behavior-geek thinks Pitch Perfect is one of the best movies of all time.

[Image credit: Marco Gomes, Flickr]

3p Contributor

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