What Percent of the US Population Owns a Bike or a Car?

The last decade witnessed a rapid rise in vehicle sale and registration in the USA. During the same period, there has been a remarkable shift in the demography of bike users and a greater focus on safety issues. The report is based on the current and upcoming trends involving the registered two-wheelers and cars.

According to a 2015 survey by Pew Research Centre, the emerging trend clearly shows that owning a bike in the United States is more about a recreational activity or hobby, which is contrary to the present scenario in the developing countries where a two-wheeler is widely considered a mode of transport.



Despite no official or universal definition, a motorcycle is a two or three-wheeler perfectly engineered for on-road transportation, biking and both. In the USA, it is mandatory for both dual purpose and on-road bikes to meet state and federal certification standards. In addition, these bikes must be registered to operate on public highways. However, the motorized bicycles and light-powered two-wheelers with engine capacity less than 50cc (popularly called as light scooters or mopeds) don’t need registration for use on the public roadways.

Designs, gear, and technologies have been evolving at an accelerating speed in the bike manufacturing industry. The percentage of the US populations owning a bike varies across the states. It should be noted in the context that the purpose of owning a bike largely depends on the biker’s age. The young people often buy two-wheelers for adrenalin-rushing activities whereas for the gen X, it is a means of traveling and transportation. However, only a fewer number of aged people use bikes for transportation in the USA.


Vehicle Sales & Registration

Few exceptions apart, all vehicles must be registered to operate on public highways. Registration is a process to assign a unique number to the vehicle. If we consider the recent reports on vehicle registrations, we may conclude without any doubt that motorcycle sale has grown each year in the last decade. According to several reliable reports about vehicles sale and registration, more than 90% of families own a car in the USA. The statistics clearly implies that majority of the Americans purchase a bike out of passion and not of necessity.

Only a tiny percentage (3%) of households doesn’t own any vehicle – car or bike – in the country. The larger section of the households owning no vehicles is usually the aged single-member household belonging to the labor community. Decide yourself how much the scenario differs in the developing countries.

However, the number varies largely. In the metro cities like New York, the vehicle ownership rate is 50% and the percentage is going up every year. Most areas in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco have a car ownership rate ranging from 60% to 70%. In places like Colorado and Highlands Ranch, the ownership rate is close to 98.6%.

The number is misleading due to the large variation in details. Whereas Pleasanton has a vehicle ownership rate of 97.4%, neighboring San Francisco has a rate of 70%. The reason for this wide disparity can be contributed to urban culture and design.