Business Trends

Biking and Walking to Work, by the U.S. Census Bureau

File Type: Free Content, Article
Release Date: May 2014
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businessman riding a bike through the city

Although relatively few people in the U.S. commute to work by biking and walking, “these nonmotorized travel modes play important roles within many of the nation’s local transportation systems.” So says “Modes Less Traveled — Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012,” a new report by Brian McKenzie released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey last week, which notes that the number of U.S. workers who travelled to work by these means increased by a larger percentage between 2000 and 2008-2012 than did those who used any other commuting mode.

The report notes that the number of U.S. workers who traveled to work by bicycle increased from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 in 2008-2012. The combined rate of bicycle commuting for the 50 largest U.S. cities increased from 0.6 percent to 1 percent. The Northeast had the highest rate of walking to work (4.7 percent of all workers), while the West had the highest rate of biking to work (1.1 percent). The lowest rate of both walking and biking was in the South.

Among larger cities (those with populations over 200,000), Portland, Oregon, had the highest bicycle commuting rate (6.1 percent), followed by Madison, Wisconsin (5.1 percent) and Minneapolis (4.1 percent). The top three large cities for walking to work were Boston (15.1 percent), Washington, D.C. (12.1 percent), and Pittsburgh (11.3 percent); New York came in fourth, at 10.3 percent.

Several “college towns” had extremely high rates of walking to work, including Ithaca, New York (42.4 percent), Athens, Ohio (36.8 percent), and State College, Pennsylvania (36.2 percent).