Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Search Challenge (5/13/15): Bike to work? How many?

With Bike-To-Work day
coming up tomorrow... 

it occurs to me that it might be useful to know how many people actually DO bike to work.  Any ideas?  

Before you go any farther in this Challenge--make a guess and write it down:  What fraction of people who commute to work actually ride their bike to work more than half of the time?  

my commuting bike

Getting to work is a big part of many people's day.  For me, I usually start work at home in the early morning (which is when I write my blog posts), and then commute to the Googleplex.  I often ride my bike, although not as often as I'd like, usually because I have to carry a bunch of stuff or be someplace distant late in the day.  

Still, I always think of riding my bike to work as a small but noble thing to do.  Since my work is only 5 km from my house, it's usually a really nice ride.  

But this entire discussion makes me think: 

1.  In the whole of the US, what fraction of people ride their bikes to work at least half of the time? 
2.  In your state or province, how do the commute modes (car vs. public transit vs. bike vs. walk) break down?   Can you tell us your local transportation modes use?  

Can you find definitive data on this?  

(Before you start your research, think about this:  Where would such data be kept?  Any ideas?)  

I'll tell you what I find on Friday.  

Be sure to let us know HOW you found your data, and what percent of your local population (in your city, state, or province) ride their bikes to get to work!  

Search (in a bicycling way) on!  


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [transportation agency united states] Federal Transit Administration.
    [people ride bicycle work]
    [riding bike to work everyday statistics]

    Interesting facts: Links to Walking and cycling in the United States, 2001-2009: evidence from the National Household Travel Surveys. to

    BIKE DATA BREAKDOWN 2014 Results for state and many more details.

    [uso de bicicletas en mexico]

    0.9% de los viajes en el Distrito Federal se realizan en bicicleta (2007)

    The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey collects data on bicycle commuting in 375 cities in the United States.

    [bicycles to work worldwide statistics]

    Bicycle Statistical Data Links to 1995 data. Not good enough.

    [State of the World 2001, World Watch Institute, Washington DC USA]
    Worldwatch Institute.

    [Percent of Trips by Travel Mode]

    less than 2 percent of trips in North America and the United Kingdom are by bicycle.

    [Percent of Trips by Travel Mode World Watch Institute]
    Cycling rates vary dramatically around the world, from 1 to 25 percent of trips at the national level (see figure) to nearly 40 percent of trips in some cities Survey data from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that half of all trips in the United States are 3 miles (5 kilometers) or less in length, a distance widely regarded as bikable for most adults. Yet 72 percent of those trips are made in cars; less than 2 percent are made by bicycle. Even for trips of a mile or less, private vehicles account for 60 percent of trips in the United States.

    [percent of trips by travel mode transportation quarterly]

    [percent of trips by travel mode in Rita (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)


    1. In the whole of the US, what fraction of people ride their bikes to work at least half of the time?
    A: From 2000 to 2013, bicycle communting has seen 62 growth. Davis, California, is the city with the highest % of residents biking to work.

    Bike and ride trips account for 3% of all public transport trips.

    Source: links founded while researching.

    2. In your state or province, how do the commute modes (car vs. public transit vs. bike vs. walk) break down? Can you tell us your local transportation modes use?

    Table 4: Percent of Trips by Mode for One Way Travel Distance


  2. USA Results

    Query [USA bicycle commuters] in Google Fusion Tables

    SERP Results

    Here’s a more detailed report (2011) but the headings are non-descript, strange so leaves me in doubt about authenticity

    So I went to the source website search/Data

    Now we can see an interactive maps and the data table with appropriate headings so a good site after all. Commuters map gives good indication of growth in bicycle use.

    Link to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing results of 2012 compared to 2002

    Canada Results for 20 11

    Calgary Results > 2014 Presentation to Council

    Unfortunately Calgary doesn’t have a good track record. Victoria’s average temperatures influence the number of commuters. There are other factors as well but the city is doing a good job trying to promote bicycle use. That’s not without opposition by car-loving commuters.

    I did ride my bike on our “Ride to Work Day” May 1 2015. I rode to the gym to do a killer spinning class. It had been promoted but as it turned out I was the only one in the class that took up the challenge. We have a long ways to go.

    Data can be found at the various government levels from their individual websites or doing a search with Google Fusions for public data tables.

  3. I searched [bicycle commute statistics] and found a number of non-profits advocating for more bicycle usage, many of which cited the US Census Bureau American Community Survey for figures. I used American Fact Finder for the United States and Montana, looking at Commuting Characteristics by Sex to find the following figures for 2013.

    1. United States: 0.6% of people commuted by bicycle.
    2. Montana: 1.5% commute by bicycle (second highest in the US, thank you very much! - 85.5% by car, truck or van; 0.8% used public transportation; 4.9% walked, 1.1% used other means, and 6.3% worked at home.

    1. Hi Jessie -- Can you tell me the link where you found 0.6%?


  4. 1. In the whole of the US, what fraction of people ride their bikes to work at least half of the time?
    2. In your state or province, how do the commute modes (car vs. public transit vs. bike vs. walk) break down? Can you tell us your local transportation modes use?

    First thought was to see what good links Wikipedia could provide. Good or not I don't know but here is a lengthy listing of bicycle songs to listen along to:

    Not seeing what I wanted I then did this [bicycle stats USA] and up popped

    which in turn links to

    which appears to be exactly what we are looking for: Where we Ride / Analysis of bicycle commuting in American cities / Report on 2013 American Community Survey Data by the League of American Bicyclists. Analysis data from US Census.

    I see Palo Alto and Mountain View have high rates of cycling commuters: about 8%. Most places cited in the various analyses show rates of well under 1%. But not as high as Davis with 24.5%

    Studying the guide to American FactFinder (census data) I make a disturbing discovery: It’s important to note that the bicycling data in the ACS records only “journeys to work,” or commuting. The ACS only counts the “primary” mode. It does not count commuters as bicyclists if they rode only part of the week, or rode their bicycle to transit and the transit portion was longer, etc. In short, the ACS mostly captures the regular, everyday bicycle commuters.

    Now what ?

    [bicycle commuting work USA] which finds which leads to

    National Center for Transit Research leads to

    Dept of Transport [bicycle]

    [bicycle commute] at provide lots of tantalizing close

    But I am out time...


  5. Anne and I did a search for biking to work data and the first result was a report done by the US Census bureau called Modes Less Traveled—Bicycling and Walking to
    Work in the United States: 2008–2012 Lots of interesting data. Found out that the West has the highest percentage of bike riders and the northeast the highest percentage of walkers (interesting note when Anne lived in Palo Alto she biked to work and now that she lives in NJ she walks to work - I never imagined her to be such a conformist!). The report it states that Portland OR has the highest percentage of workers who bike to work at 6.1 percent. Biking to work showed a huge increase from the year 2000 to the years 2008-2012. It was the largest increase for any mode of transportation. This report states that 2.8% of workers walk to work and .6% bike. Cars had the largest % of users at 86% trailed by mass transit 5% and work at home at 4.3%. This report broke out numbers by large cities. While several NJ cities showed up on the walking list (with the city closest to us Newark having a walking rate of 8%) no NJ city showed up in the biking list. The site did break down the walking and biking rates by state and for NJ those are: .40-.59% and for walking the rate is: 3.0-3.9%.
    We also thought that a place like AAA might have data on car vs. bike usage but we will have to do that search another time.

    1. That's more-or-less what I did as well. Nice job, Debbie and Anne!

    2. Thanks. This was a fun challenge, especially since a friend of ours runs Bike/Walk Morristown and is interested in all things related to biking. We were able to share our results with her.

  6. Dan, somebody stole your bike… or, at least, its visual representation avatar… until the faithful Marin is returned…