The Numbers Are In: The U.S. is Biking All Over the Place

The League of American Bicyclists releases new analysis on the amount of bicyclists per state in the U.S.

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Bicyclists in Washington, DC

Photo by Elvert Barnes

Every year the U.S. Census Bureau studies the commuting habits of Americans. While bicycle commuting is not the main focus of the census, The League of American Bicyclists makes use of the data to assess the numbers of bicycle commuters in cities across the country. Their latest analysis has certainly provided valuable insight into how different communities are stacking up in their transportation choices and, moreover, which cities in the U.S. are the most bicycle commuter friendly.

As a nation, the U.S. saw growth of 67% in bicycle commuters in 2014. That said, there are a few things to remember when looking at the numbers. Nationally since 2005, states have seen an average of 46% increase in the share of people biking to work.

However, an average is just that. Talking numbers, the places with the largest amount of bicyclists reflect the population – so cities like New York and Los Angeles have the most bike riders in the U.S. As well, there are smaller cities like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis that have seen enormous growth in bike commuting due to years of dedicated investment in cycling infrastructure and culture. But many other states have seen tremendous increases  in bicycle commuters in the past few years. Many of them are states you wouldn’t expect, such as Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Kentucky, all of which have seen a growth of over 100% since 2005 in the amount of bicyclists.

As can be expected, some of the most bike riding friendly cities in America are college towns like Berkeley, Palo Alto, and Cambridge. This is perhaps due to the fact that these cities built extensive biking infrastructure early on with student population in mind. Still, those bike lanes are now critically relied upon by locals of all professions. Davis, CA, home to the University of California, has long been on the top of the list for  cities with the highest share of bicyclists  boasting bike lanes on 95% of its major streets.

A noteworthy collection of data on the analysis is the fifty large cities where bike commuting is growing the fastest. At the top of the list are Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Portland – all of which scored over 300% in growth from 2000-2014. Moreover, and importantly, all have begun investing in cycling infrastructure steadily in the last few years and have plans to continue expanding.

In terms of a regional race, the average mode share for each region depicts clearly that The West is definitely coming in 1st with 6.3%, and the East in last place with only 2.3%.

While the percentage of bicyclists is less than 1% of commuters overall, the current direction is clear: commuting by bike is on the rise. Its modal share has grown by 67% since 2000, and while fast growth is obvious when starting from a small sum, it’s still an extremely positive beginning of a bike-friendly future for the United States, and not just in New York City or Berkeley, but everywhere.




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