Northwesterners prefer running, hiking over cycling, but only if it’s sunny



​​​SEATTLE – Northwest locals know that summer officially arrives July 5, following an often overcast Fourth of July, but weather rarely keeps us from enjoying the festivities. Yet it may surprise locals that, according to the latest PEMCO Insurance poll, the Northwest’s fickle weather might keep outdoor enthusiasts from playing outside more often than we think.

The PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll found that, true to our regional stereotype, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of Washington and Oregon residents flock to the outdoors at least a couple times per week throughout the year to hike, run, cycle, or enjoy the water.

But according to the Seattle-based insurer’s poll, about two-thirds (70 percent) say the rain deters them from spending time outside, at least sometimes. About 20 percent say they often decide against spending time outdoors because they don’t want to be in the wet weather. Just 5 percent say they’re never deterred by the rain.

“Many of us share a love of going outdoors to enjoy the Northwest’s natural beauty, but perhaps we’re not quite the tough rain-or-shine bunch that we’re stereotyped to be,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg.

When they do venture out, most of PEMCO’s poll respondents say they spend their time on foot. One-third say they run or jog, and they do so an average of 55 days out of the year, which is almost double the time Northwest residents report spending on their bicycles.

More popular than cycling, too, is hiking, according to the poll. About two out of three (68 percent) say they dayhike, doing so an average of 18 times per year. Camping and backpacking are popular, as well, with half of the poll’s respondents doing so an average of eight times a year.

But while the Northwest may be known for its bike-friendly communities, PEMCO’s poll results suggest riding on two wheels is still not as popular as exercise on foot – about one-third (31 percent) of Northwest residents ride road bikes or mountain bikes an average of 25 times per year.

Of those who do ride bikes, more men than women regularly ride mountain bikes compared to road bikes. About two-thirds of men ride mountain bikes, while about half of female cyclists ride mountain bikes.

“Our tongue-in-cheek ads and ‘Recumbent Bike Commuter’ profile imply we see recumbent bikes all over the Northwest, but the poll reveals that less than 5 percent actually ride them,” Osterberg said.

On a more serious note, the poll also finds Oregon cyclists in particular have some room for improvement with wearing bike helmets. Just half of Oregonians say they always wear one and one in 10 riders admit to never wearing one. Washington cyclists do better – 62 percent say they always strap a helmet on, and just 7 percent never wear one. 

Fewer people enjoy mountain sports. About a quarter ski, snowboard or snowshoe, and just 15 percent climb mountains or go rock climbing.

Outdoor water activities rank higher with 40 percent enjoying water sports an average of 11 days per year. One-third fish about 13 days per year, as well, and hunting ranks in the bottom tier with just 12 percent participation.

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in May 2014.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll
PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 respondents in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold to consumers by the method they choose – phone, local community agents, or online. For more information, visit J.D. Power has ranked PEMCO “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Auto Insurers in the Northwest Region, Two Years in a Row.” For J.D. Power award information, visit ​