Friday, May 9, 2014

A Look Behind The Numbers: US Census Reports That Bicycle Commuting in Chicago has DOUBLED.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report on the prevalence of non-motorized transportation in the daily work commute of thousands of Americans. The report, authored by Brian McKenzie, points to a nationwide increase in the amount of individuals opting to bicycle to work rather than use motorized transport. 

The Census Bureau’s report is based on data collected by the American Community Survey (ACS) from 2008 to 2012, gathered from a questionnaire sent to approximately 3.5 million addresses countrywide. This is the first U.S. Census Bureau report to focus entirely on commuting by bicycle and walking.

The ACS is conducted annually to provide one of the largest sources of information on bicycle commuting in the country. Here are the details on the Survey:

  •  The ACS is geared towards workers 16 and older who work outside their home.
  •  The questionnaire asks what the respondent’s primary method of transportation was for their previous week’s work commute.
  •  For commuters relying on multiple transportation methods for their daily commute, only the method used for the longest distance of their commute will count.
Here's the most interesting fact to come from the ACS: The number of bicycle riders in America's urban centers skyrocketed in the past decade. The number of bicycle commuters in the country’s 50 largest cities increased by 60% from 2000 to 2008-2012, up from 0.6 percent of the commuting population in 2000 to 1.0 percent in 2008-2012. Raw data shows an increase from 488,000 people in the year 2000 to 786,000 in 2008-2012. Even though the overall share of workers commuting by bike remains relatively low—1.0% of the population—this drastic increase represents the single largest percentage increase of any transportation method in the country.

The increase in bicycle commuting may be the result of many of the country’s most prominent cities investing heavily in non-motorized travel-based projects. Many of these projects are critical improvements to the infrastructure that can greatly reduce the risk of a collision involving a pedestrian collision or a bicycle accident or simply provide easier access to bicycling. Examples of these infrastruce improvements are as follows:

  • Sidewalk modifications;
  • Protected bicycle lanes; and
  • Bicycle sharing programs, such as Chicago’s popular Divvy program .
Chicago has more than doubled its rate of bicycle commuters. 1.3 percent of Chicago workers—about 16,000 people—used bicycles as their primary method of commuting from 2008 to 2012. This is a staggering jump from the less than 6,000 Chicago workers reporting bicycling as their primary method for commuting in 2000.

As the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers have previously reported, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020” has gone to great lengths to make bicyclists a top priority in Chicago. Chicago's bicycling plan is to build a network of over 645 miles of on-street bikeways. The Plan is well underway. Here are some details:

  • Chicago already has over 200 miles of on-street bike lanes;
  •  Chicago has about 50 miles of protected bike lanes;
  • 19 miles of protected bike lanes were added in 2013;
  •  Another 50 miles of protected bike lanes will be added by 2015
Finally, the report listed a few notable, nationwide trends among bicyclist commuters that make for interesting bicycles facts. For example:
  • There are more than twice as many male bicycle commuters as there are female;
  •  Large cities have the highest rate of bicycle commuters;
  •  Americans are more likely to commute via bicycle the closer they work to their residence;
  •  The average cyclist commute is 19.3 minutes;
  •  Bicycle commuting is most prevalent for commutes between 11 and 14 minutes long;
  •  Workers aged 16 – 24 are the most likely to commute by bicycle.
The most important takeaway is that bike are here to stay. Contrary to the assertions of many in the "anti-bike camp," bicycling is not a fad. Bicycling is an integral part of the transportation plan in any modern American city and Chicago is at the forefront of this movement. 

As bicycle attorneys in Illinois, we are proud to have been a part of the collective effort to support and advocate for bicycling throughout Illinois. We remain steadfast in our commitment to fight for the rights of bicyclist and adhere to our mission of providing legal advice to any bicyclist injured anywhere in Illinois at anytime. 

-Ride Safe