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Tell Census Bicyclists Count

How do we know how many people are biking? In most cases, we rely upon the American Community Survey. 

Each year the Census Bureau releases data on how people get to work, including whether they bike to work. This is the most consistent and widespread data on the number of people regularly biking in the United States. We use it in many ways -– to compare cities large and small, to evaluate communities and states using Bicycle Friendly America programs, and to better understand bicycle safety

While this data is limited and far from perfect, without it we would have very little understanding of bicycling in America.

The Census Bureau is currently doing a content review process for the American Community Survey. It is possible that the content review could result in the elimination of this important data. If you appreciate the value of knowing how many regular bicycle commuters there are, please take the time to let them know. 

You can comment on the question that lets us know how many people regularly commute to work by clicking here.

To give your comment on the question that provides us with this important data:

  • Expand the Economic Topics accordion
  • Select “Journey to Work”
  • Select “How did this person usually get to work last week?”
  • Select “Next Step”
  • Fill out a form to submit feedback

The form is available until Friday, July 18. Please take the time to let the Census Bureau know how important this data is to understanding bicycle commuting -– the fastest growing mode of getting to work in the last decade. 

Below is a sample comment:

How did this person usually get to work last week?

a. Please tell us how you use the information from this question.

This information is important because it provides consistent, high quality, and timely information on how people get to work. The data provided by this question is crucial to understanding changes in biking and walking that accompany investments in non-motorized infrastructure, travel demand management, and other policies that encourage non-motorized travel. Data on non-motorized travel is not readily available from other sources and the data produced by this question is vitally important to understanding non-motorized travel. The data is most commonly used to estimate the rate of bicycling and walking to work, the growth of bicycling and walking to work, and the relative safety of bicycling and walking to work in states and communities.

b. The American Community Survey might not be the only source for this information. Is there another source that you use?

The National Household Travel Survey, which has occurred irregularly since 1983, provides more comprehensive data on the use of biking and walking for travel and transportation. However, it last occurred in 2009 and the next version will occur in 2015. It is not a substitute for the annual data produced by the ACS.

Numerous local agencies and private organizations produce bicycle counts of varying consistency. Due to their variability and lack of nationwide coverage, they are not true substitutes for the data produced by the ACS.

c. If yes, is the American Community Survey your primary source for this information?

d. If yes, please tell us why the American Community Survey is your primary source for this information.

The ACS is my primary source because it is the only source that produces annual data that is available for multiple geographies (cities and states) and is comparable throughout the nation.

3) Please tell us if you have any additional comments about any of the questions on the American Community Survey that you use.

It would be extremely useful to know whether or not people use multiple modes to get to work or use more than one mode of travel to get to work most weeks. Data on the use of multiple modes to get to work would allow some quantification of the success of multimodal investments. Data on using more than one mode in a week would allow a better understanding of the transportation choices that people are making.

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