Surveying Silicon Valley on Cycling

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MTI research finds 39% of Silicon Valley residents own bikes
September 16, 2020
San José, CA

Silicon Valley is committed to California’s goal of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 15% in the next three decades. To investigate local support for this initiative, Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) researchers—in collaboration with Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) and the Santa Clara Department of Public Health—surveyed 1,009 Santa Clara County residents, recruited via location-based targeted advertisements, about their travel behavior and attitudes. This report, Surveying Silicon Valley Cycling, Travel Behavior, and Travel Attitudes, asked about a range of transportation modes (driving, public transportation, walking, and more), with an emphasis on cycling.

Survey results highlight the difficulties in achieving VMT reduction and shifting away from driving while also showing some indicators for improvement, such as a desire to improve bicycling infrastructure and safety. 

Key findings include: 

  • 90% of respondents reported owning and using a vehicle;

  • 39% reported owning a bicycle and at least occasional usage, with 13% biking for transportation or recreation in the average week; and 

  • When compared to the US Census Bureau’s 3% of cyclists in Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley cyclists prove to be a larger constituency than originally documented (Bureau of Transportation Statistics).   

While speed of travel proved to be the driving force in choosing a car over other modes, participants also indicated a dissatisfaction with the car-oriented lifestyle—citing stress, health, and automobile maintenance costs as reasons for their driving dissatisfaction.

Report author, Dr. Kevin Fang, also documented potential barriers to increased ridership. He states that “Riders need to feel comfortable and for that you need proper infrastructure like protected lanes, bike parking, and driver awareness initiatives.” 

Despite the infrastructural and behavioral challenges, report findings indicate a general support for the use of alternative transportation modes, especially with regard to improving the comfort and safety of young bicyclists.

A webinar discussing this research will be hosted by SVBC on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 7-8p.m. (PDT). Attendees can register at



At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Kevin Fang is an MTI Research Associate and Assistant Professor of Geography, Environment, and Planning at Sonoma State University.


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