For some modes of transportation — such as cars, buses, and walking — it’s obvious to the vast majority of Americans whether a person should be on the sidewalk or on the road. But for other modes of transit — including bicycles, electric bikes, and scooters — the rules of the road are less clear. A recent YouGov poll asked Americans about various modes of transportation and whether they believe each one should be ridden on the sidewalk or in the street when used in urban areas. Adult bicycles and electric scooters were among the most divisive — with more support among people in the Northeast and West for them to be treated as road vehicles.
Nearly all (91%) adults believe motorcycles should take the roads. This is agreed upon by roughly equal shares of people who live in a city (87%), suburb (93%), town (95%), or rural area (91%). Majorities also believe that electric bicycles (65%) and adults on bicycles (56%) belong on the road rather than the sidewalk. People who live in towns are especially likely to say electric bikes (73%) and adult bikes (65%) should take the road.
When it comes to electric scooters, opinions are more divided. While majorities of people living in towns (60%) and cities (57%) think these vehicles belong on the road, fewer people living in suburbs (47%) and rural areas (44%) agree.
What vehicles do Americans think belong on the sidewalk rather than the road? For Segways, 45% of Americans think these should be ridden on sidewalks while 21% say they should be ridden on roads, but one-third (34%) are unsure. Two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adult citizens think skateboards belong on the sidewalk, and 83% think children on bikes do.
There are some big regional differences, particularly when it comes to electric bikes, adults on bikes, and electric scooters.
While three-quarters of people who live in the West (76%) or Northeast (74%) think electric bikes should be ridden on roads, fewer Southerners (58%) and Midwesterners (57%) agree.
When it comes to adults riding bikes, splits are similar, with people residing in the West (69% and Northeast (67%) being more likely than those in the Midwest (52%) and South (46%) to say these should be ridden on roads, not sidewalks.
On the topic of electric scooters, majorities of people living in the West (63%) and Northeast (57%) think these belong on the road, an opinion shared by fewer than half of people in the South (46%) and Midwest (43%).
— Taylor Orth and Carl Bialik contributed to this article
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Methodology: The YouGov poll was conducted online on June 28 - July 4, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. For both polls, the sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample also was weighted by baseline party identification, which is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.
Image: Adobe Stock (bodnarphoto)