2008 City commuting trends are in: How does Pittsburgh stack up nationally?

Commuting to Downtown Pittsburgh

How workers get to their job in the 60 most populous cities

For the past three years, we’ve extracted the data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create this nifty chart that shows the commuting data of the 60 most populous cities in the United States.  This year, we’ve added a second chart that breaks the bicycle commuters down by gender.

The important thing to remember when reviewing the chart is that the data that we are using comes from workers who live in their city, and how they get to their job, wherever that may be.  It’s also important to realize that in order to even be counted in the commuting survey, you need to have a job to commute to, so cities with higher unemployment rates will have a smaller representation in their lower income bracket.  Also, the survey doesn’t take multi-modal transit users into account very effectively.  If you ride a bike to a subway station, which mode are you using?

Still, despite it’s faults, we feel that this survey provides a snapshot into our city’s commuting trends, and really, it’s the best data out there.

Women as an indicator of a bike-friendly city?

This survey created waves recently with an interesting Scientific American article that analyzes the data based on gender.  Since women tend to be represented significantly less on the roads, they surmise that the ratio of women to men cyclists is an indicator of a city’s bike-friendliness.  According to the article, “in the U.S., men’s cycling trips surpass women’s by at least 2:1. This ratio stands in marked contrast to cycling in European countries, where urban biking is a way of life and draws about as many women as men—sometimes more. In the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made by bike, 55 percent of all riders are women. In Germany 12 percent of all trips are on bikes, 49 percent of which are made by women.”

The article goes on to say that “in the U.S., most cycling facilities consist of on-street bike lanes, which require riding in vehicle-clogged traffic…[and] when cities do install traffic-protected off-street bike paths, they are almost always along rivers and parks rather than along routes leading ‘to the supermarket, the school, the day care center.'”

Sound familiar? Fortunately for us Pittsburghers, we have three rivers, giving us six river banks that have been (and continue to be) outfitted with bike trails.

Their conclusion: to boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want.

A very interesting and surprising point that arose from this survey is how consistently high Pittsburgh ranks for walking to work, and how low we rank for percentage of workers who drive alone (as in very few, relatively). If that doesn’t call for an increase in the budget to make the “walking” experience better for our residents, I don’t know what does.

Without further ado:

2008 Commuting Trends by City

To toggle between the different modes, click on the tabs at the bottom of the chart

Bicycle Commuting Trends by Sex

You can sort by Overall, male, and female using the tabs at the bottom

If you want to compare the past few years, you can find the data here:

Not a member of Bike Pittsburgh? Join today! We need you to add your voice! Bike Pittsburgh works to protect cyclist’s rights and promote the vision of making Pittsburgh a safer and more enjoyable place to live and to ride. For more info, check out: www.bike-pgh.org/membership


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