Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 28th, 2010 at 2:15 pm
The U.S. Census Bureau released results of its annual American Community Survey (ACS) today. The survey found that 5.81% of Portlanders used a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation to work in 2009.
According to an analysis of the data by the League of American Bicyclists, that figure is down from 5.96% in 2008, a decline that’s within the margin of error. Overall, the percentage of bike commuters in Portland has increased 230% since 2000.
Andy Clarke, President of the League said this about Portland’s numbers. “I’d say that a plateau after rapid growth in 2008 is perfectly understandable. The margin of error is a couple of thousand cyclists out of 16,500 in Portland, so that may easily explain the difference.” It’s also worth noting that Portland’s own bike counts were also down in 2009.
Portland retained its lead as the U.S. city with the most bike commuters. Rounding out the top five are Minneapolis (3.86%), Seattle (2.99%), San Francisco (2.98%), and Oakland (2.53%). The League also reports that the number of Americans biking to work remained steady at 0.55%, “Despite predictions that the number… would fall after gas prices returned to ‘normal’ in 2009.”
It’s important to keep in mind that while the ACS is the largest survey of its kind and it gives us a great view of trends over time (since it has asked the same question for years), it historically undercounts bicycle commuting levels. As we’ve reported in the past, here’s the question they ask…
How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK? If this person usually used more than one method of transportation during the trip, mark (X) the box of the one used for most of the distance.
Because of the way this question is worded, the League reminds us to keep in mind that, “the ACS bicycle commuter percentage should not be interpreted as equivalent to the proportion of all trips.” Read a more detailed analysis of the survey results and download a comparison of the 70 largest U.S. cities from the League’s blog.
By way of comparison, the same Census data showed that 70% of Portlanders used a car, truck or van as their primary mode of transportation to work (61% of which drove alone), 11.5% used public transportation and 5.6% walked. See the data here.