Members of the United States Navy participate in Bike to Work Day 2013.
Members of the United States Navy participate in Bike to Work Day 2013. (NAVFAC/Flickr)

Happy Bike to Work Day!

Commuting by bicycle reaches 0.6 percent

Members of the United States Navy participate in Bike to Work Day 2013.

It’s not quite a two-wheel takeover, but a recent watershed census data release revealed a 60 percent increase in American bicycle commuting during the past decade—the largest increase in use of all forms of transportation. How’s that for cool news on National Bike to Work Day

The bike-to-work crowd makes up only 0.6 percent of commuters countrywide—786,000 people—but a closer look shows that some places have seen veritable cyclapocalypses. Owing in part to its cycling vanguard status, Idaho (yes, Idaho) saw a 110 percent increase in cyclists, and, to the surprise of no one, Portland’s cycling crowd blew us all out of the bike lane with its cycling population exploding from 1.8 percent of residents in 2000 to 6.1 percent. 

The report also looked into walking trends, coming away with the sobering statistic that we’re not getting more ambulatory by commuting standards. As with biking, some cities broke from the pack with outstanding numbers. Boston leads the way with 15.1 percent of residents beginning their mornings on the right foot.

Census data was collected through the American Community Survey, which asked respondents to comment on the mode of their commute as well as length in time and distance. Internet users can explore the data in a new commuting edition of Census Explorer, the U.S. Census’s interactive map program.

For some, biking to work is a means of emphasizing personal fitness. Others prioritize more efficient use of natural resources. If you’re someone for whom being green isn’t easy but is necessary, certain environmentalists argue that ridesharing, public transportation, and telecommuting are better choices than cycling. But at Outside, the cyclists have spoke-n: Wheel continue pedaling (or possibly ElliptiGO-ing), thank you.

More Outside coverage of bike commuting:

Strava Data Helps SF Cyclists Bike Better

Bike Commuters Are the Happiest Commuters

L.A. Introduces Bike-Friendly Business Districts

Get Paid to Bike to Work

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: NAVFAC/Flickr