The age group with the highest rate of bicycling is the 18-24 age group, but the 55+ age group is the one that has been increasing its rate fastest (by far), and it is quickly gaining ground on the young.
When we think of the "bicycling boom," I think that most of us visualize young hipsters and urbanites. However, recent data from the US Department of Transportation's National Household Travel Survey show that the age group that is increasing its bicycle rate most quickly is the elderly (75 to 84), or more broadly the overall retiree group. Here are a couple of charts on this:
Fascinating. But there are a lot of logical reasons for this. The elderly are generally more health conscious, and there's plenty of evidence that bicycling for transportation is a great way to improve your health. It's also one of the easiest forms of exercise on the joints.
The elderly may also feel more comfortable biking along at a slow pace than driving, which can be very stressful for people of any age, but certainly more so at the later stages of life. And many retirees aren't exactly "rolling in it," so saving money on gas is a prudent way to stretch out those retirement dollars. Furthermore, they tend to have more time on their hands, which can enable the use of a slower, more enjoyable mode of transportation.
Nonetheless, it isn't all about the elderly and retirees. Bicycling is increasing across age groups, and if you simply look at contribution to new bike trips by age group, it's actually the 40 to 59 age group that is driving the growth the most in pure numbers:
No matter how you look at it, it's great to see bicycling for transportation growing in the United States across all age groups. I'm very curious to see how the trends play out in the coming decade!