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Modes Less Traveled—Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008–2012

Report Number ACS-25
Brian McKenzie
Component ID: #ti1623292844

Bicycling and walking make up a relatively small portion of commuting activity in the United States, but these nonmotorized travel modes play important roles within many of the nation’s local transportation systems. Infrastructure that supports bicycling and walking expands transportation options and may complement other forms of transportation by supplementing segments of trips. Several state and local agencies have taken steps to promote pedestrian and bicycle travel. Strategies to accommodate nonmotorized travel vary across communities, but may include sidewalk modifications, pedestrian-oriented commercial centers, or bicycle lanes to name a few. In recent years, the number of cities with bicycle sharing programs has increased considerably.1 These efforts reflect ongoing changes in infrastructure and travel options across the nation’s dynamic transportation systems. Such changes influence decisions people make about their trip to work. The American Community Survey (ACS) is an important tool for tracking how the nation’s travel patterns change across time and places.

Among other questions on work-related travel, the ACS asks respondents how they get to work. Respondents may choose from among several transportation modes, including bicycle or walked (Figure 1). The ACS commuting questions have served as the basis for several U.S. Census Bureau reports, but this is the first report to focus on bicycling or walking.2 This report provides a national overview of commuting by bicycle and walking in the United States. It highlights differences in rates of nonmotorized travel for selected social and economic population characteristics and across geographic areas.3 The report uses the 5-year 2008–2012 ACS data to take advantage of its large sample size relative to the 1-year data, thus reducing margins of error of estimates for small subpopulations.4

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1 Bicycle sharing programs include networks of bicycles available for short-term public use with designated pick-up and drop-off bicycle locations.
2 For more Census Bureau reports on specific commuting modes, see <www.census.gov/topics/employment/commuting.html>.
3 All comparisons presented in this report have taken sampling error into account and are significant at the 90 percent confidence level unless otherwise noted.
4 The analysis is limited to workers 16 years and over who worked during the ACS reference week, the calendar week preceding the date respondents completed their questionnaire, and who did not work at home.

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