Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

America's top 20 cities of bicycle commuters

September 28, 2011 - 08:38 AM
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(Photo: flickr/tvol)

Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association points out a fascinating and good fact on WABA's blog — as of the recent American Community Survey statistics for 2010, Washington, D.C. now ranks as the United States' fifth highest city of bike commuters among the 70 largest U.S. cities. In the District, 3.1% of the population said they bike to work as a primary mode of transportation last year.

As Billing points out in his comments, these numbers don't even truly feature any of the leap thanks to Capital Bikeshare's introduction in fall of 2010. We likely gained many more bikeshare users and bike commuters as 2011 progressed, which will be fascinating to see in next year's numbers. I suspect the District's bike lanes and broader focus on bike commuting in recent years is responsible for the increase in 2010 bike commuters. What Billing doesn't link to but is worth a look is this spreadsheet of the 70 biggest cities' bike commuting data, courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists.

Here's the top 20 bike-commuting cities according to ACS numbers:

1. Portland (6.0)

2. Seattle (3.6%)

3. San Francisco (3.5%)

4. Minneapolis (3.5%)

5. Washington, DC. (3.1%)

6.Tucson, Arizona (3%)

7. Sacramento, California (2.5%)

8. Denver, Colorado (2.2%)

9. Tampa, Florida (1.9%)

10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1.8%)

11. Oakland, California (1.8%)

12. New Orleans, Louisiana (1.8%)

13. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1.6%)

14. Honolulu, Hawaii (1.6%)

15. Anchorage, Alaska (1.5%)

16. Boston, Massachusetts (1.4%)

17. Albuquerque, New Mexico (1.4%)

18. Long Beach, California (1.3%)

19. Chicago, Illinois (1.3%)

20. Santa Ana, California (1.1%)

My own hometown of St. Louis, Missouri just barely missed the top 25. It landed at 26 with 0.9% of the city reporting some bike commutes in 2010. I also notice that our neighbor city of Baltimore, Maryland has a bit of catching up to do in the world of biking. Baltimore ranks at number 36, with 0.7% of the city listed as bike commuters in 2010 (which is, oddly enough, a drop from 2009, in which 1% qualified as such).

The spreadsheet also shows the percentage by which bike commuters increase in each city over time, with intervals of 2000 to 2010, 2005 to 2010, and 2009 to 2010. Portland shows one of the most amazing leaps over the past decade, with a staggering 238% jump in bike commuters. D.C.'s bike commuters increased by 169% looking from 2000, by 80% from 2005 to 2010, and by 44% just from '09 to 2010. Not too shabby at all.

Nationally, however, the number of bike commuters remains a small sliver of our daily commuters and represents just 0.53% of U.S. commuters overall.

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