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New Data on Bike Commuting
The Census Bureau has released the 2017 1-year estimates for how people are commuting to work based on the American Community Survey.
The 2017 1-year data shows that overall, commuters are choosing to use a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation to work slightly less than in recent years. Year-over-year, the rate of people biking to work has decreased 4.7%. Among the 70 largest cities (as of 2009 when the League began tracking), a slight majority (37) cities had a year-over-year decrease in bike mode share.
The League has compiled this data in the 5th edition of our “Where We Ride” report that looks at bike commuting in a variety of ways. As bike commuting data is the only annual data available on the number of people biking, we believe it is important to track this data over time. One-year data has a variety of issues, including not including smaller cities. The 2017 1-year estimates do not include any cities from Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, or Puerto Rico, and include estimates for less than 5 cities in 17 states.
Looking more broadly than 1-year estimates, 84% of the 70 largest cities have a positive trend based on ACS 1-year estimate published between 2005 and 2017. These longer term trends provide some insight on the types of cities where bike commuting has grown over time:
- The cities with the highest growth rates tend to have higher mode shares
-Cities with a long term trend in the 75th percentile have an average mode share of 2.62%
-Cities with a long term trend in the 50th percentile have an average mode share of .92%
-Cities with a long term trend in the 25th percentile have an average mode share of .52%
-Cities with negative long term trends have an average mode share of .39%
- Only 2 cities in the top 10 for growth trend are not in the top 10 for mode share in 2017
-Those two cities are Pittsburgh and Boston, both of which were in the top 10 for mode share in 2016
The “Where We Ride” report provides:
- How all 50 states rank according to bicycle commuters as a share of all commuters;
- The 20 cities with the highest rate of bicycle commuting in each of four regions - the West, South, Midwest, and East;
-This data also support top-end city growth, with the top 5 cities in each region having a higher average mode share
than in 2016 despite most regions having a lower average for the Top 20 cities.
- Large cities where bicycle commuting rates have grown the fastest since the year 2000;
- The cities with the most bicycle commuters; and
- The number and rate of bike commuting in each city for which that data is available, for cities with less than 100,000 people to cities with over 1 million people.
Overall, this new data shows a widespread dip, but trends still point up.
Are you interested in more data like this? Check out the Benchmarking Report on Bicycling and Walking in the United States at bikeleague.org/benchmarking-report.