Biking, walking to work are on the rise, locally and nationally

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2014 - 6:24 AM

The number of bike commuters in Minneapolis has doubled since 2000.

Just in time for Twin Cities Bike Week comes a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau that says the number of people who pedal to work rose by 60 percent over the past decade.

Minneapolis, with an estimated 8,300 bike commuters, saw a significant jump in the number of people who said they usually ride to their jobs, from 1.9 percent of all commuters in 2000 to 4.1 percent as of 2012, according to the “Modes Less Traveled: Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012” report released Thursday.

The City of Lakes ranked second among cities with a population of 200,000 or greater behind Portland, Ore., which has a bicycle commuting rate of 6.1 percent.

Nationwide, the number of bike commuters jumped from 488,000 in 2000 to 786,000 in the four-year period of 2008-2012 covered by the Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey.

The report found that the overall rate for bicycle commuting in the 50 largest U.S. cities rose from 0.6 percent in 2000 to 1 percent between 2008 and 2012.

Minneapolis joined Portland, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Boise, Idaho, Washington, D.C., and Madison as the only cities which had a 3 percent or greater share of commuters who get to work by bicycle. In 2000 no American city had more than 3 percent of workers commuting by bicycle.

The Twin Cities region as a whole did not fare quite as well as Minneapolis. In the entire seven-county metro area, the biking rate was 0.9 percent, slightly below the national average, the report said.

The Met Council said Thursday that about 17,000 residents in the Twin Cities and suburbs usually ride to work. Minneapolis and St. Paul, with 1,600 riders, were the only cities with more than 500 riders. Bloomington, Edina, Golden Valley, Plymouth, Richfield, Roseville and St. Louis Park each had between 150 and 500 riders.

In context, 81 percent of metro area commuters drove alone, 9 percent carpooled, 5 percent took public transportation and 2 percent walked. In Minneapolis 65 percent of commuters drove alone, 15 percent took public transit and 9 percent carpooled.

About two-thirds of metro area bike commuters are men; 14 percent are people of color. The average ride time is 21 minutes, while the average non-bike commute time is 24 minutes, the Met Council said.

Minneapolis ranked 13th in the percentage of people who walked — 6.6 percent. Boston came in first with 15 percent.

Not surprisingly, those in core cities were more likely to walk to work than those in the suburbs, with 4.3 percent vs. 2.4 percent. Those with high school degrees or who did not finish high school walked the most (3.7 percent) while graduate degree holders walked the least, at 2.7 percent. People who made less than $10,000 a year had the highest rate of walkers with 8.2 percent.

 

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768

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  • As part of the annual Bike to Work Day celebration, food, music and free bike repair were available at the Hennepin County Government Center plaza in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday.

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