A lot of people ask me how many people are out there bicycling.
“Not a lot”, I tell them.
And I explain why: the primary source of data is the American Community Survey, which is a questionnaire that asks people questions about how they got to work in a specific week. (More details on how it does this below.) We don’t have data, except in rare “Household Travel Surveys”, about trips by bike to school, shopping, and social activities.
It’s comparable across the country – you can get this data for any city.
- Visit the “legacy” American FactFinder and select American Community Survey, operated by the United States Census Bureau.
- Select 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (or the latest 5-year estimate). This is the most accurate data.
- In the right-side menu that appears, click on “Enter a table number”.
- In the new window, input the table number ” S0801″ (“Commuting Characteristics by Sex”) and submit the form. The new window will close and the other window will go to that table.
- Now it’s time to select your geography. In the left-side menu, under “Change…” click on “geography (state, county, place…)”
- In the window to change your geography, select “Place” as your “Geographic Type”.
- Then select the state.
- Then select your city and click “Show Result”.
- This data shows all modes people take to work, who live in that city. It’s highly probable that people are leaving the city to their jobs on these modes. For example, someone who lives in Rogers Park may ride their bike to work in Evanston.
- The URL is a permanent link to this dataset. Each city has a unique URL. You should save these as bookmarks so you can easily reference the data later.
- The question on the survey doesn’t allow multiple choices: “People who used more than one means of transportation to get to work each day were asked to report the one used for the longest distance during the work trip”.
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
The best value taillight. It has three red LEDs that alternate and provide extreme brightness. I have two of these.
So far my longest trip was 40 miles on this saddle. It molds to your butt like Birkenstock sandals mold to your feet. The springs make the bike ride a little more comfortable and more fun (weird, because you bounce up and down on them). It also looks gorgeous. Comes in 3 colors - I got black.
The Practice of Local Government Planning (Municipal Management Series) by
You could basically design and administer a new town kind of effectively after reading this huge and boring textbook.
Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep
I reviewed this book that the publisher sent to me.
Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Resilient Communities (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design) by Jeffrey Tumlin
I was sent a review copy. I'm really excited to open it up and start reading because I've been disappointed with textbooks in the past that don't focus on bicycle and pedestrian planning.
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet by Mia Birk, With Joe (Metal Cowboy) Kurmaskie, Joe Kurmaskie, Jim Moore
I met Mia Birk in October 2011.