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American Community Survey vs Philadelphia Bike Counts 2007-2019

The U.S. Census Bureau has just released the first 2019 update to the American Community Survey (ACS). 

The ACS is an annual survey that only samples about 3 percent of the population and supplements the better known Decennial Census.

The One-Year ACS data for Philadelphia found that 2.1% of all commuters traveled primarily by bicycle.

The numerical estimate was 14,908 with a margin of error of +/- 2,375. Up from 12,276 +/- 2014 in 2018. An estimated increase of 21 percent from the previous year.

The ACS data tracks fairly well with our annual bike counts over the Schuylkill River Bridges, and it confirms that the dip in bike traffic during 2018 was real.

The survey and our annual bike counts showed that 2017 has become the high water mark for bicycle use in the City. More detailed Census data that will be arriving in the coming months with the Public Use Microdata Area giving us neighborhood-level data due in October and the more statistically accurate 5 year ACS data which will allow to drill down to Census Tracts will be coming online in December. 

Speaking of bike counts, we still have several AM bike count slots available. 2020 is a year like no other and observations from our early counts are showing significant changes in bike traffic. Help contribute to the 2020 data by signing up for bike counts here

John Boyle


John has been a commuting cyclist for more than 20 years. In 1994 he began working as a volunteer for the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley after attending a volunteer night, and later served as a board member in 1997-98. In 1999 John left Philadelphia for Charlottesville, VA, where he helped establish the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation (ACCT), a bicycle and walking advocacy group.

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