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Nice new online maps show biking rates by neighborhood

Posted by on May 8th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

In the darkest tracts mapped here, more than 20 percent of the working population gets to work mostly by bicycle.
(Image captured from Census Explorer’s new Commute Edition)

Certain less geeky news outlets we might mention are reporting today on a report about biking and walking to work (PDF), just out from the Census Bureau.

We haven’t jumped on the news, since we covered this data when it first became publicly available last fall. (We love you, though, OPB.) But one thing that is new on the Census site is a very nice interactive map that quickly plots 22 years of commuting data to the neighborhood level.

Until this site went online, this tract-level data had been trapped inside endless databases and the American Factfinder’s ancient mapping software. This web-friendly presentation (only nine years after the release of Google Maps!) is far superior — and it’s especially easy to flip to the 1990 and 2000 Census data to watch changes over time.

Above is a map of bike commute rates for various tracts in the Portland area as of 2012. In the darkest sections, at least 20 percent of the working population gets to work primarily by bicycle. The region’s bikingest tract is the west half of Ladd’s Addition in Southeast Portland and the area just to its west, where an estimated 25.9 percent of workers commuted by bike as of 2012.

If that’s not impressive enough for you, here’s a similar snapshot, using the same scale, of where things stood in 1990:

And (just because it’s been on people’s minds lately) here’s a map of the 2012 bike-commute rates in Minneapolis:

And Seattle:

Chicago:

New York City:

Careful observers will notice that in none of the above cities do any tracts exceed 15 percent bicycle usage, let alone 20.

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Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
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kiel johnson

yeah, we are still the bike capital of north america

Clarence
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Clarence

Interesting to see that dark tract in Brooklyn in Red Hook! I lived there. No subways. Buses sucked. No wonder it is darker than the spots around it.

Gerik
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This further reinforces the impression that mode choice is driven by land use density and co-location of housing and employment as much as it is by transportation facilities.

Justin
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Justin

The census map lists exactly zero people biking to work in the census tract between what looks like Holgate and Division east of 82nd avenue. Not just rounded to zero percent, but zero people.
I’m going to ask for a recount.

Matthew Rogers
Guest

Neat data! It looks like we’ve got a fairly high percentage of public transit users and walkers in Portland proper, too!

It’s really interesting that the average commute time is pretty constant at 20-30 minutes, as well.

John Landolfe
Guest

The bike community spends a lot time thinking about bikes in motion but I hope this kind of data helps us think more about where bikes live. The east side could really use better bike parking to combat the east side theft epidemic.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

Nice! 3 tracts with rates in excess of 20%.

I also noticed that Boise has two tracts in excess of 10%, and several more at 7% or better. Go Idaho Stop Law!

Christopher Sanderson
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Click through that map, and check out the category “Drove Alone.” Yikes.

Dan
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Dan

The ‘work from home’ numbers have increased a lot over the years. Those should continue to grow.

John Liu
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John Liu

Very cool visualizations!

Just noting, in many of the inner west side neighborhoods where bike mode is surprisingly low (2% to 5%), the offset is that walk mode is high (20% to 48%).

Joseph E
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Surprisingly, even though Corvaillis has an overall bike commute rate of 11.8%, almost twice the rate in the whole Portland city limits, the highest rate is “only” 18.7%: about the same as the overall bike commute rate in the city of Davis, CA.
Portland has 5 census tracts that beat this, and 3 more that statistically tie. They are all in N/NE portland along Vancouver or in inner SE west of 28th and north of Powell. A new city that included just inner N, NE and SE Portland would be 3rd place in the nation after Davis and Corvaillis (or perhaps tied with the later?), and ahead of Eugene and perhaps Boulder (8.7 and 10.5%), while still having a higher population that any of those cities.

Joseph E
Guest

Eugene does have 1 census tract, just west of the University, which beats our highest rate: 31.2% vs 25%
Davis has a max rate of 46.6% on the UC Davis campus, and 7 census tracts have over 20% rates, out of only 16 tracts

Joseph E
Guest

12 out of 24 census tracts in Boulder, CO have over a 10% bike commute rate, but only 2 have over an 18% rate

Key west has 4 out of 10 census tracts over 20%, not surprising with a 17.8% overall bike commute rate. Not really comparable to Portland or even Davis, due to the subtropical island location.

Joseph E
Guest

Madison WI is the closest mid-sized city to Portland. It is half as large as Portland (the metro area is much smaller), and it is both a state capital and a university town. But it does have over 200,000 people, and 11 census tracts have over a 10 percent bike commute rate, out of about 50 total (the city limit is hard to match with the census blocks). Over half the census tracts have over a 5% bike commute rate.
Madison is constrained with the downtown on a narrow penninsula between two lakes. But there is a lot of land to the east and west.

By comparison, Portland has 26 census tracts over 10%, and 41 more over 5%, for a total of 67 tracts over 5%; almost everything between 82nd and the West Hills. There are only 23 census tracts between 82nd and the west hills with less than 5%, and most are in the parts of NE and SE Portland that were annexed by the city, the areas without sidewalks. Ther rest are in St. Johns (a long way from Downtown), NW Portland in right at PSU (where commuters walk).

Unfortunately, the bike commute rate drops like a rock east of 82nd and at the west hills: In this area there are 30 census tracts with less than 1% bike commute rates, which really drag down the city average. Madison WI doesn’t spawl that far; the low-density areas around it are suburbs in different cities. If Portland had not annexed East Portland, it’s bike commute numbers would look better too. (I’m not suggesting this as a solution!)

Joseph E
Guest

Versus Minneapolis:
6 Census tracts above 10% (Max: 15.6%), another 28 between 5 and 10%.
Minneapolis’s numbers benefit from the small size of the city limits vs the metro area: Only about 3 miles east to west and 6 miles north to south. The limit is just west of those 3 lakes on the west and at the north-south stretch of river on the right; at the north and south the city ends right where the bike commute rate drops. The suburbs stretch for many miles farther in every direction, and have much lower bike commute rates. If their city limits included as much land as Portland, they would not be in contention for #1 among “large” cities, but would be behind Seattle and San Francisco.

Dennis Hindman
Guest

Los Angeles has 2 tracts above 15%.

One is located just above USC at 19.7%. LA’s first cycle track will be on Figueroa St, next to USC, and should be completed in 2016.

The other tract is in the west end of the San Fernando Valley at 17.7%. There was a 16-ft wide bike path that opened in mid 2012 which runs next to the Orange Line BRT extension and abuts this tract.

I would expect both of these areas to get a significant increase in bicycle commuting mode share due to these bikeway installations.

Los Angeles will be raising a few eyebrow for the percentage of increase in bicycle commuting in the next few years. By July 1st, LA will have installed almost 200 miles of bike lanes in only three fiscal years. A big jump up from 2009, when there was only 147 miles of bike lanes.