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Census Bureau Kicks Off National Bike to Work Week and Releases First-Ever Data Focused on Biking and Walking to Work

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Census Bureau Kicks Off National Bike to Work Week and Releases First-Ever Data Focused on Biking and Walking to Work

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs 

The U.S. Census Bureau today kicked off National Bike to Work Week and released the first-ever data on the number of people who bike and walk to work.  In addition, the Census Bureau released a new commuting edition of the interactive map Census Explorer that allows Web visitors easy click-and-zoom access to commuting statistics for every neighborhood in the U.S. It also shows how commuting has changed since 1990 at the neighborhood, county and state level — including how long it takes to get to work, commutes longer than an hour, and number of bikers.  

The Census Bureau report "Modes Less Traveled — Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012," found many U.S. cities are seeing an increase in bicycle commuters. Nationwide, the number of people who traveled to work by bike increased roughly 60 percent over the last decade, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period. This is the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey. 

This report — the Census Bureau's first focusing only on biking and walking to work — is one of many that examines specific aspects of commuting, including workplace location, working from home, long commutes and specific travel modes. The report highlights the trends and socio-economic and geographic differences between motorized and nonmotorized commutes.

While bicyclists still account for just 0.6 percent of all commuters, some of the nation's largest cities have more than doubled their rates since 2000. Portland, Ore., had the highest bicycle-commuting rate at 6.1 percent, up from 1.8 percent in 2000. In Minneapolis, the rate increased from 1.9 percent to 4.1 percent. 

The report also looks at the number of people who walk to work. After steadily decreasing since 1980, the percent of people who walk to work has stabilized since 2000. In 1980, 5.6 percent of workers walked to work, and that rate declined to 2.9 percent by 2000. However, in the 2008-2012 period, the rate of walkers remained statistically unchanged from 2000. Among larger cities, Boston had the highest rate of walking to work at 15.1 percent.​

If you are in the Washington, D.C. area on Friday for National Bike to Work Day, please join me and Sue Helper, Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, in Freedom Plaza during your morning commute to celebrate National Bike to Work Day.

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