Bicycle mode share up to 11 percent in MinneapolisBicycle mode share up to 11 percent in Minneapolis

By Prescott Morrill, Nonmotorized Transportation Research and Evaluation Specialist


As transportation planning continues to evolve and include the consideration of multi-modal transportation, many planners, engineers, and advocates are turning their attention to a factor called mode share on our urban streets. Mode share is an analysis of the different types of users on a given road, or network of roads, where each mode constitutes a certain percentage of the total traffic volume. For example, on any given day on road X, there are 10 bicyclists that use the road and 40 automobiles that drive by. As such, bicycles make up 20 percent of the 50 total vehicles that use road X (10/50 = 0.2, or 20 percent), and automobiles constitute the other 80 percent, in this example.

Data collected by Bike Walk Twin Cities in September 2012 observed that bicyclists constitute 11 percent of people using the roadway at on-street count locations in and around Minneapolis. While 11 percent does not rival the Copenhagens and Amsterdams of the world where bicycle mode share is estimated to be as high as 40-50 percent (according to Copenhagenize, an international bike and pedestrian consultant firm), it does add credence to Minneapolis as one the healthiest cities in the US (according to the American Fitness Index, by the American College of Sports Medicine). An estimated 11 percent bicycle mode share also indicates the City of Minneapolis continues to make progress toward its bicycle mode share goal of 15 percent by 2025.

How do we know the mode share in Minneapolis?

BWTC bicyclist and pedestrian count data is collected annually at a total of 43 annual benchmark locations across Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Falcon Heights, and St. Louis Park (the full 2012 Count Report can be found at the BWTC website). The count data for bicyclists was then calibrated to Minneapolis specifically. To calculate mode share we compared data collected at locations common to both BWTC counts and the most recent Annual Average Daily Trips (AADT) estimates from the City of Minneapolis. The AADT tells us the average of the number of vehicles that pass a given location on a given day across the year. This data pairing in Minneapolis shows mode share for bicyclists and motor vehicles is 11 percent and 89 percent, respectively.

Why does mode share matter?

While bicyclists and pedestrians have been observed for traffic analysis since approximately 2006 (with some isolated counts in previous years), data on motor vehicles have been collected since before the 1950s. The positive trend happening now, however, is that, with growing knowledge and awareness of nonmotorized transportation in recent years, and as bicycle mode share continues to rise, the term transportation is starting to mean much more than the movement of motor vehicles. In conjunction, elected officials, agencies, companies, and organizations are starting to give greater consideration to all modes of travel, from Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School legislation, to expanded bike and pedestrian facilities on more roadways. Such considerations can both help meet and foster demand for nonmotorized transportation, while ensuring this growing number of bicyclists gets around safely.



B&C riders

But how do we get those folks that may have a bike but don't ride in traffic? I'd argue a network of Bikeways for Everyone - a connected network of protected, separated bike lanes known as cycle tracks. If cities like Chicago and New York can do it, why can't we?

It's true that separated

It's true that separated facilities would help to promote bicycling for those with a lower risk tolerance, but a completely comprehensive network of separated facilities would be very expensive and take time.  In the interim, there should be a focus not just on building-out new facilities, but retro-fitting existing facilities, educating both drivers and bicyclists in an effort to promote health and safety.  While not a separated facility, bike boulevards are starting to change the way people see our streets, and have been effective in attracting new riders and improving roadway safety.