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Bike commuting almost doubles over past two decades, according to report

Published May 20, 2021

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Bike commuting is the third most popular U.S. transportation mode, increasing 61% nationwide from 2000 to 2019, according to a new report published by the Bike Adviser.

The report, coming a day before Bike to Work Day on Friday, measures what U.S. states and cities have the most bike commuters and the gender breakdown. In 2000, there were 488,000 regular bike commuters, according to the report; in 2019, there were 786,000.

While there was an increase over the 2000-2019 period, the peak occurred in 2014, and there was a 5.9% drop from 2010-2019. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown, data wasn’t available for 2020.

The data comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, along with input from The League of American Bicyclists, PeopleForBikes, American Public Transportation Association, and National Household Travel Survey. 

The proportion of bike commuters peaked in 2014 — with pandemic-times figures unavailable.

Other findings include:

  • Nationwide, men make up 77% of bike-to-work trips, and women 23%. However, bike commuting is more popular for women in Alabama (53%), Maine (52%), and New Mexico (51%).
  • Oregon leads among all 50 states, with the highest percentage (1.90%) of bike commuters in proportion to the total population of workers.
  • Montana (1.22%), Colorado (1.12%), Wyoming (1.05%), and Washington (0.87%) complete the top five with the largest percentage share of bike commuters.
  • Portland, Washington, and Minneapolis are the cities that appeal the most to bike commuters.

The percentage of workers using a bike as their primary travel mode was calculated by dividing the number of bike commuters by the total population of workers.

“Thanks in large part to Bike to Work Day, bike commuting has changed from a fringe activity performed by only the renegade few to a more commonplace means of transportation, surging its way through ever-wider circles and increasing its appeal in today’s generation,” according to the report.

Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Washington have consistently ranked high by avid cyclists because those states value infrastructure, advocacy, education, and bike law enforcement, according to the report. At the other end, Mississippi (0.08%), Tennessee (0.12%), and West Virginia (0.13%) have the fewest workers commuting by bike.

The U.S. Census American Community Survey is conducted yearly by the Census Bureau to track commuting patterns and transportation choices. The bike-commuting data measures employees older than 16 and younger than 64 who use a bike as their primary mode of travel for their commute to work. It doesn’t count commuters who use a short bike ride to a transit stop, use a bike fewer than five times a week, or use a bike for non-commuting purposes, like for recreation or a workout

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