The Office of the City Auditor released its 23rd annual Community Survey today and the results reveal yet another sign that the amount of people riding bicycles in Portland has reached a stubborn plateau.
The survey asked Portland residents to gauge a number of different city functions, from the quality of tap water to the smoothness of streets in their neighborhood. 9,800 surveys were sent and the results were taken from the 3,352 valid surveys (or 36 percent) that the Auditor’s Office received back. According to the City Auditor, “The purpose of our community survey is to provide the public and policy makers with information regarding resident satisfaction with City services. We encourage Council and bureau managers to study differences in community perceptions included in the survey and to consider where improvements in services are needed.”
The two questions we look at most carefully in this survey ask residents what their primary mode of transportation is to work and for all trips. In this year’s survey, 7 percent of respondents said they use a bicycle as their primary mode for work trips. That number hasn’t budged since the question was first asked in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of people who said they drive alone to work went up three percentage points from last year to 64 percent. The only mode that saw a decrease was public transit. 12 percent said they took transit last year, compared to just 10 percent this year.
On a neighborhood level, inner northeast had the highest rate of bicycling to work with 14 percent. The lowest bike-to-work number was a meager 1 percent in east Portland.
When the survey asked about all trips (not just work trips), bicycling went down to just 4 percent of the total. Only 1 percent of southwest Portlanders and zero percent of east Portlanders surveyed said they use a bicycle as a primary mode for all trips. The drive alone number is the highest it’s been since 2010 at 70 percent.
This survey reflects what is becoming a commonly accepted phenomenon: That bicycling in Portland has stagnated. As we reported last month, U.S. Census data showed that biking in Portland has stalled for the fifth year in a row.
We’ve heard from PBOT sources that there is an effort underfoot at the agency to figure out what is causing this plateau and what can be done to get over it. We have some thoughts on that topic; but we’ll save them for a separate post.
Delve deeper into the latest City Auditor Community Survey here (PDF).