Mountain Biking Grew 10.2% in 2008

December 2, 2009 

The annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Report looks at year-over-year trends in various outdoor sports, based on the percentage of the population who participate in outdoor recreation in some form. Released earlier this year by the Outdoor Industry Foundation, the report shows a 10.2% increase in mountain biking from 2007 to 2008. Nationwide, the study reports 7,592,000 people who rode a mountain bike.

American’s most frequent outdoor activities were running (trail and pavement) with cycling (road, mountain and BMX) coming in second.  More people participated in outdoor activities than team sports. 15% of Americans rode a bike while 9% played basketball, 7% played football, 6% played soccer.

A disturbing downward trend in outdoor activity participation was seen among the youth over the past three years. In 2006 78% of 6 – 12 year-old children did some outdoor activity, but in 2008 only 64% did so. The 13 – 17 year-old group went from 69% participation in 2006 to 61% in 2008. The biggest drop was seen in girls aged 6 – 12, a 19% drop in participation over three years.

However, cycling (including road, bmx and mountain) remained both the “most popular” and “favorite” outdoor activity of the young. Despite the overall decline in outdoor activity participation, mountain biking among the 6 to 17 year-old age group grew by 17.4% over 2007 numbers, with over two million participants in 2008.

In the 18 to 24 year-old group mountain biking was down 23.8%. The biggest reason given was a “lack of time.”  Adult participation in outdoor activities grew from 48% to 53% in the 25 to 44 year-old group, and from 37% to 38% in those over 45 years of age.

Mountain biking is becoming more and more popular. These numbers underscore the need for us continue working towards opening new trails for this growing user group, and to take care of the trails we already have. We must also continue to get more youth involved in mountain biking, and support those who already do.

This study was based on a sampling of over 40,000 households. The complete report is available from the Outdoor Industry Association Foundation.

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