Our progressive commute

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


Transportation statistics from the U.S. Census show Pittsburgh ranking 16th among the largest 60 U.S. cities in the percentage of people who commute by bike.

With 10.7% reporting walking as their means of commuting, we beat the bike-leader Portland in the walking category by more than double.

BikePGH explains that Pittsburgh lost some ground in the biking category “most likely due to other cities making much larger strides in bike infrastructure.”

When walking, biking and transit are figured together, Pittsburgh ranks seventh.bikeACS2011

Release of the American Community Survey coincides with the announcement that Pittsburgh was chosen as the host city for the 2014 Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference.

Incidentally, we have more car-free people than the top three biking cities — Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis — and we rank eighth in percentages that use transit at 18. New York is the hands-down winner in that category with 56.3%.

“Although many miles of bike lanes and sharrows were installed in 2012,” BikePGh writes, “you may remember that there were zero miles of bike lanes installed in 2011, with only a couple of miles of new sharrows installed in November of 2011. Bikeway networks, especially of the physically separated variety greatly increase the percentage of bicyclists in a city.”

Chris Briem, Walkabout's go-to demographic data guy at Pitt, has created a graphic that I have reproduced here to show comparisons since 2006. 

He writes on his blog  under the heading "Where did the Bikers Go?" to point out the dip in 2011: "The data here, like most bicycle usage data you see collected by the census is for 'commuting'.  Commuting is by definition a mode of transportation to employment.  If you use a bicycle for your primary transportation to school, shopping, recreation, or any other purposes it is not supposed to be reflected in this data.  

"So in no way do these numbers reflect the full number of people who use bicycles each and every day.  In fact I think the Bike Pittsburgh folks have collected their own data on the full spectrum of biking in town here and quite honestly I would trust those numbers more than the ACS estimates above. 

"The BikePittsburgh folks are great folks, do great things and the state of biking in Pittsburgh is far improved because of them.  In fact Pittsburgh is gaining quite a Bike profile nationally likely as a result of their efforts."

Photo courtesy of BikePgh, taken at the 3rd Avenue garage

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