Which transportation mode increased the most between 2000 and 2012?

empty road
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Galia & Yoav

There are a handful of topics that TreeHuggers really love. One of those is clearly bicycling. So I'm sure many of you will be happy to know that the commute mode that has increased the most in the United States since 2000 is bicycling.

The US Census Bureau's report detailing this info for 2000 through 2012 was released earlier this month. "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," according to the United States Census Bureau.

Sadly, bike commuting is still under 1% of commuting in the US on average, approximately 0.6% according to the report.

However, that masks great strides forward in some cities. "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 League of American Bicyclists adds a bit more on demographic and geographic data provided by the Census Bureau:

  • Age: 1% of workers between 16 and 24 years of age use bicycles to commute to work.
  • Sex: While men and women walk to work at similar rates, men are almost 3 times more likely to bicycle to work, which is similar to other countries with low bicycle commuting rates.
  • Race: People who indicated they are multiracial or a race outside of the choices given by the Census (Hispanic or Latino, White alone, Black or African American alone, Asian alone) had the highest bicycle commuting rate at .8%. Hispanic or Latino workers had the second highest rate at .7%.
  • Education level: People with graduate or professional degrees bicycle to work at a rate of .9%, followed by people who did not graduate high school at .7%.
  • Household wealth: 1.5% of workers in households making less than $10,000 biked to work.
  • Commute time: The average bicycle commute time is 19.3 minutes, and most bicycle commutes were between 10 and 14 minutes long.
  • Regional differences: Rates of bicycling to work tended to be highest in large cities, this was particularly pronounced in the Midwest. In other regions there was not a large difference between rates in medium and large cities.

"On the same day as the study, the Census also released a new commuting edition of the interactive map Census Explorer. Planetizen blogger Michael Lewyn already crunched that data about average commute times in cities and suburbs around the country," Planetizen's James Brasuell writes. The map is fun, so I recommend checking that out. Here's a screenshot as a teaser:

US Census Bureau/Screen capture

If you want to learn more, here's a 1-hour Google+ Hangout about the data from the League of American Bicyclists, with participation from Brian McKenzie of the US Census Bureau:

Tags: Biking | Walking

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