Monday, September 23, 2013

Philadelphia's Bicycle Commuting Rate Rises Significantly In 2012 Census Data

The US Census Bureau has released the 2012 One Year American Community Survey figures. Amidst that whole heap o' data is information about bike commuting. The data confirms our anecdotal knowledge: bicycle commuting in Philadelphia is still increasing. Between 2011 and 2012, bicycle commuting rates in Philadelphia increased by 28%, from 1.8% to 2.3%.

See how Philadelphia compares to other notable cities in the chart below:


Philadelphia retains its title as the top bike commuting city among the country's ten largest cities. We actually increased our lead over number two Chicago. That may change, however, as Chicago launched a new bike share program called Divvy this year. After just 2.5 months of operation, that program is now the third most popular in the country. Combined with Chicago's aggressive construction of protected bike lanes, we expect the Windy City's bicycle commuting rate to continue to rise.

The news at the suburban county level for our area is not as rosy. Bike commuting levels remain stubbornly low, with all the PA counties each reporting just a 0.2% bicycle commute mode share. Our nearby New Jersey counties are more diverse. Gloucester County registered the lowest rate in the region, at 0.1% or one in a thousand, and zero female bike commuters. Only Mercer County, NJ reported a bicycle commute share that was above the national average of 0.64%.

The American Community Survey conducts its research via telephone surveys. They call residents and ask what his or her "primary mode of transportation" to work was the previous week. Biked to the bus? You're counted as a bus commuter. Biked two days a week and drove the other three? You're a vehicle commuter. If they happen to catch a county the week after terrible weather, bicycle rates can be under-reported. So this data is certainly not without its qualifications, but it's one of the best pictures we have at the moment of the state of bicycle commuting in the country.

Oh, and Portland? Their bicycle commuting rate fell fro 6.3% to 6.1%. Not that we're counting.

3 comments:

Don said...

Why hasn't the BCGP updated the bike count statistics since 2008? How long does it take you to compile the data from the bike counts? Certainly not five years.

Nicholas Mirra said...

Our most recent publishing of our bike count data was 2011, when we used it in our Mode Shift report: http://www.bicyclecoalition.org/files/MODE%20SHIFT%20REPORT.pdf

Doug S. said...

Looking for a little feedback on a recent project...collecting some stats. Check out this quick survey related to bicycle commuting. Thanks!
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/77LCFWV