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Census report shows more people commuting by bicycle

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 8, 2014

I’ve been riding my bike to work for six or seven years now. It saves me money on gas, gets me some bonus exercise and makes me feel like a kid again. (Plus, my husband says it gives me cute legs.)

Turns out lots more folks around the country are doing the same thing.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today, the number of people who ride a bike to work in the United States has increased about 60 percent over the last decade, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period. That’s the biggest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census.

Bicyclists still account for just 0.6 percent of all commuters (we’re the happiest commuters, I’m sure!), but some of the country’s largest cities have more than doubled their rates since 2000, according to the report. It’s no surprise that Portland, Ore., tops the list with a 6.1 percent bike-commuting rate.

The report, “Modes Less Traveled — Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012,” highlights the trends and socio-economic and geographic differences between motorized and non-motorized commutes. It’s the Census Bureau’s first report to focus only on biking and walking to work.

Some highlights:

  • According to the report, about twice as many people in Austin biked to work each year on average during the period between 2008-2012 as they did in 2000 - about 6,400 versus about 3,200. The number of people who walk to work increased slightly, from about 8,800 to 10,700.
  • The West had the highest rate of biking to work at 1.1 percent; the South had the lowest rate at 0.3 percent.
  • The median commute time for those who bike to work was about 19.3 minutes. (My commute is about 40 minutes.)
  • Men were more likely to bike to work than women - 0.8 percent versus 0.3 percent. (Come on, ladies!)
  • Those with a graduate or professional degree or higher and those with less than a high school degree had the highest rates of biking to work, at 0.9 and 0.7 percent, respectively.
  • The poorest had the highest rates of bike commuting. According to the report, 1.5 percent of those with an income of $10,000 or less biked to work.

May is National Bike Month, and May 16 is Bike to Work Day in Austin, one of my favorite days of the year. Stay tuned for more information on free breakfast stations and other events.