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Map of Suburban Bicycle Commuter numbers and changes from 2016

Suburban Bicycle Commuter numbers and changes from 2016

Last week we looked at the 2017 American Community Survey data, which showed that the number of bike commuters in Philadelphia increased by 20 percent. This week we reviewed data for the suburban Counties. In December, the Census Bureau will release 5-year data, which will enable us to drill down to bike commuter rates in every municipality.

In contrast to the City, the numbers are lower, but appear to be rising considerably. At the county level, about 0.4 percent of all commuters bicycle to work. Or more precisely, 0.4 percent of the survey recipients reported bicycling to work at least three times in the previous week.

If you bike and ride to transit and your transit route is longer than your bike route then it counts as a transit trip, and not a cycling trip. Biking to or from work isn’t even the most popular type of trip.

The 2009 National Household Travel Survey found that biking to or from work accounts for only about 11 percent of all bicycle trips.

Its no secret as to why bicycling to work is less prevalent in the suburbs: Distance between work an home, high traffic stress roads, the lack of bike parking at work, and even the cultural acceptance of biking to work.

Even with the high margin of error, the general upward trend of cycling in the suburban counties is a good sign that people are choosing different ways to get around. If we build the infrastructure to support bicycling, people will bike even more often.

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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