01/01/10

Biking Walking & Blogging: Bicycling and Walking Report CardBiking Walking & Blogging: Bicycling and Walking Report Card

From Joan Pasiuk, Director, Bike Walk Twin Cities

Time for the national bicycling and walking report card. The latest commuter results from the American Community Survey are out and Minneapolis holds onto its #2 position in the rankings of cities with the largest share of individuals bicycling to work (The survey ranks the nation's 70 largest cities.)

In 2009, bicycle trips in Minneapolis comprised 3.86% of all trips to work. The Minneapolis "mode split" vastly outperforms the big city average of 1.02% and the overall U.S average of 0.55%. But, we can gain so much more, especially if we consider European travel behavior, where in the city of Copenhagen, for example, 37% of residents travel to work by bicycle.  

Those who monitor transportation data the way traders track the Dow Jones will note 10% drop from the Minneapolis commute share in 2008. In that year, our share of residents bicycling to work topped 4%, possibly spurred by gas prices exceeding $4 per gallon. The 2009 figure is very close to the 2007 figure (3.86% versus 3.8%) and provides a strong indication that the jump from the 2006 figure of 2.5 was real. 1 St. Paul data is reported also.

Walking is still the commute of choice for more than 6% of people working in Minneapolis. When we add this to bicycling numbers, we find that a hearty one out of 10 (10.26%) residents commute to work exclusively via human power.  More importantly, the number of people driving alone to work in Minneapolis continues to fall, dropping yet again to just over 62%.  Perhaps the rebound of somewhat more affordable gas has not caused a return to old habits.

Minneapolis Trips to Work Estimated in ACS Survey

 

2009

2008

Change 2008 to 2009

Change 2005 to 2009

Bicycle

3.9%

4.3%

-10.6%

60.8%

Walk

6.4%

6.1%

5.6%

10.3%

Transit

13.1%

14.4%

-9.9%

4.8%

Automobile

62.2%

62.7%

-1.9%

-5.6%

 St. Paul Trips to Work Estimated in ACS Survey

 

2009

2008

Change 2008 to 2009

Change 2005 to 2009

Bicycle

1.3%

1.2%

14.0%

92.9%

Walk

5.1%

4.9%

4.0%

45.7%

Transit

8.9%

10.2%

-13.0%

4.7%

Automobile

79.4%

79.4%

0.0%

-2.8%

The ACS data from the Census has a limited sample size and so can introduce a margin of error of a whole percentage point for bicycling and walking. It is important, therefore, to back up the Census data with other data. Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) has been collecting "live" data on the street since 2007, with help from the City of Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, St. Paul Smart-Trips and other partners. We have just completed our annual community-wide count of walkers and bicyclists at more than 100 metro locations. BWTC also conducts intercept surveys to gain insight about travel behavior (trip purpose, length, alternative travel option).  These results are reported annually as a part of our program measurement to demonstrate the impact of Bike Walk investments on travel behaviors over time. The 2010 data will be out at year end; the 2009 report provides additional evidence that bicycling and walking is growing in the Twin Cities. http://www.bikewalktwincities.org/evaluation/bwtc-2009-count-report

Over the next two years, we will see an expanded network for bicycling and walking take shape across the metro area. Bike Walk Twin Cities infrastructure investments totaling more than $16 million will add nearly 90 miles of new sidewalks and bikeways. Education and outreach investments of more than $3 million will support and augment the infrastructure investments. We are looking forward to monitoring the growth of bicycling and walking as these new transportation options open the door for more people to get where they want to go with a healthy, happy walk or ride on a bicycle. The League of American Bicyclists calls for the the two-wheel share of transportation to be 20% by 2020. This ambitious goal is not only achievable, but also  essential if we want to continue to see a better tomorrow.

 

1 The American Community Survey produces estimates based on samples of the population collected through questionnaires and interviews. Results include only the longer leg of multi-modal trips (for instance, not counting the walk leg of a walking-to -transit commute). The figures here represent only trips to work; 2000 Census data calculates commuting to be only .34% of all bicycle trips. Bicycle and walk trips also may be undercounted ibecause the survey asks for the principal mode of travel the worker used to get from home to work during the previous week.