Fun With Data: How Workers Commute

driving_alone.jpgImage: Census Bureau via Economix

Bike Pittsburgh has posted some great, sortable data about how commuters get to work in major American cities, drawn from a Census Bureau report. San Francisco ranked near the top of cities with a high percentage of walkers, transit riders and cyclists, and a relatively low percentage of people who commute alone in a car. Only New York City at 23.3 percent and Washington D.C. at 37.2
percent had fewer solo drivers than San Francisco’s 38.4 percent. San Francisco also had a high percentage of car-free residents, at nearly 20 percent of the population.

Kansas ranks as the place with the highest percentage of drivers: 85.1
percent of commuters use a car to get to work. The unfortunate national
median for commuting by car is 74.15 percent.

There’s also an interesting chart on bike commuting trends by gender, in response to a Scientific American article,
which asserts that cycling needs to be made more attractive to women in
order to boost overall urban cycling numbers. The argument seems to
check out: according to Bike Pittsburgh’s data, even in cities with
relatively high levels of bike commuters, men cycle to work
significantly more than women.

  • a

    “a relatively low percentage of people who commute alone in a car”

    Man that’s hard to believe… check out the Bay Bridge in about three hours.

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

    This is what I want:

    –secure bike parking so that my bicycle isn’t missing or parts stripped from it while I’m gone
    –physically-separated bike lanes on quiet, clean, non-traffic sewer streets where the cars that politely share the road go less than 20mph. Trees and plants along such routes would be nice. (Love the panhandle but the number of non-bicycle users is beginning to make it dangerous.) No cars interfering with bike lanes by dooring or by swerving across lanes in order to park. And no evil double-parking trucks making me swerve into traffic!!!
    –traffic circles and yield signs instead of stop signs. Speed limits on traffic circles 7 mph.

    That’s it. That’s really, really, really what I want.

  • Richard

    One of the most notable things about this map is how narrow the scale is- to get a roughly even division of states, you simply set the cutoffs at 70, 75, and 80% drive-alone commuters- pretty consistent numbers, over all.

    a- the Census numbers for mode share are for people who LIVE in SF, so all those peak-direction Bay Bridge commuters aren’t included.

  • I live in San Francisco and don’t own a car, and I’m actually surprised at how few people do the same, at least of those I know. Both of my roommates have cars (and often drive 6 blocks to catch the train), and I think I can count the number of people I know who live in the city and don’t own a car on two hands. Though that’s better than the number of people I know who live in the suburbs and don’t own a car: One.

  • Evan, I’m with you in that club. I’m carless and bike/MUNI to Caltrain and my wife walks to the FiDi, but I think I know one other person who is carless. If people can’t/won’t do it in SF, one of the most walkable cities in the country, then data like this doesn’t give me all that much hope.

    40% isn’t that good, but I guess when you look at 75% national average….

  • HFA

    The map reminds me of a CDC map of obesity trends in the US:

  • velocycling

    It is all about who pays for parking. If it is public or companies then yes there will be a lot of solo drivers but it the solo driver is paying for parking then he will drive less. Just look at the cities will very low drivers, they have very high costs for parking.



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