Biking to work nearly doubles over 5 years in the region

Between 2006 and 2010, the number of people who biked to work in metropolitan Chicago increased substantially, according to new survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Region wide, bike commuting increased 89 percent, with the largest percentage increases in the counties of Kendall (172 percent), Kane (138 percent), Lake (114 percent) and Cook (98 percent). Eighty percent of the bike commute trips are in Cook County.

According the Census Bureau’s estimates, 22,703 people in the region bike to work, but this number doesn’t capture many of the people who bike to a train, bus or carpool.

That’s because you have to choose only one transportation mode when answering the Census Bureau survey, and people who bike to transit will probably choose transit as their means of getting to work.

Many more people walked to work in 2010 (123,226), but this was only a 3 percent increase from 2006. The bureau found a 5 percent increase in transit commuting, which is fairly consistent with overall ridership trends on Metra, Pace and CTA.

Unfortunately, the Chicago region lacks good data on the number of people walking and biking for non-work trips, but I have no doubt that biking has increased substantially for those trips, too.

Regularly updated information about when, where and how people use active transportation in the region is enormously helpful as we carry out our work. As we help communities throughout the region with active transportation planning, it’s essential to have hard numbers on ways people get around.

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Transit and cycling or walking

The reason that trips by bike or foot that are to a train or bus will have a lower count is quite simple. The American Community Survey asks this question:

"How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK? If this person usually used more than one method of transportation during the trip, mark (X) the box of the one used for most of the distance."

A person will probably travel a longer distance by bus or train than they will by bike or foot.

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