Census Bureau: More people in U.S. are commuting by bicycle

Census Bureau reports that commuting by bicycle is up 60 percent while walking has stabilized after 20-year decline.
By Frances Burns  |  May 9, 2014 at 2:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 9 (UPI) -- The most- and least-educated workers in the United States are the ones most likely to commute by bicycle or foot, the U.S. Census Bureau says.

In a report, "Modes Less Traveled -- Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012," released Thursday, the Census said that bicycle commuting increased about 60 percent in the past decade. The share of commuters walking to work has remained steady since 2000 after dropping from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 2.9 percent.

The bureau found that .9 percent of workers with graduate or professional degrees and .7 percent of those without high school diplomas bike to work, higher rates than workers in the middle. Workers with incomes less than $10,000 were the most likely to bike, at 1.5 percent.

Workers who did not finish high school were the most likely to walk at 3.7 percent, followed by those with advanced degrees at 2.7 percent. Those with incomes of less than $10,000 were far more likely to walk than anyone else, at 8.2 percent.

Bicycle commuting has seen its biggest increase in cities that have taken steps to encourage it, the report said. In Portland, Ore., the rate more than tripled from 1.8 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent, the highest in the country.

"In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking," Brian McKenzie, the Census Bureau sociologist who wrote the report. "For example, many cities have invested in bike share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets."

Bicycle commuting is most popular in the west, and walking to work is most favored in the northeast. In Boston, 15.1 percent of commuters use their feet -- the highest rate among large cities -- although some college towns had even more walkers.

The south had the lowest percentages of both cyclists and pedestrians. People who work downtown were far more likely to walk than those with suburban jobs.

While cycling appears to be on the upswing, only .6 percent of commuters get on their bikes nationally. Those who do average 19.3 minutes for the trip.

Walkers averaged 11.5 minutes per trip.

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