Higher educated people in particular often cycle

Cyclists in Cologne

A study by the University of Cologne found that the higher educated in particular often cycle. Photo: Federico Gambarini/dpa

(Photo: dpa)

According to the information, the difference was not that great in rural areas, but even there people with a higher level of education rode their bikes more often. The sociologist Ansgar Hudde from the University of Cologne has published two studies on the subject in specialist magazines.

His evaluations are based on representative data from the German mobility panel for the years 1996 to 2018 and from the study “Mobility in Germany 2017” by the Federal Ministry of Transport. The data sets list all the routes taken by more than 55,000 respondents and the means of transport they used. In total, about 800,000 routes are involved.

Difference in education remains despite factors taken into account

Hudde said he included background information about the respondents in his analysis to test whether the link between education and cycling might just be a spurious correlation. “People who work shifts may only ride their bikes less often because it’s too uncomfortable at night. But even if I statistically take into account such factors as distance, age, income and place of residence, the educational difference remains.”

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In 1996, the different educational groups were still close together when it came to using bicycles, Hudde said. But since then the two groups have drifted apart. “The higher educated group has doubled their cycling time since 1996.” It also plays a role that a clear message is now associated with the bicycle. On a blind date, for example, you can say a lot about yourself just by coming by bike – and not in a big SUV.

status symbol and consciousness

For people with a lower level of education, a car is more often important to show professional success. The higher educated, on the other hand, ran less of a risk of being perceived as poor or unsuccessful. “When a professor comes to university by bike, no one thinks, ‘Oh, she can’t afford a car.’ But you think: “Cool, she’s environmentally conscious.” Another example is Cem Özdemir, who rode his bike to the Federal President to be sworn in as Minister. “Everyone knows the S-Class could drive,” said Hudde. “But he cares about the message. And that is understood.”