Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bike Commuting Remained Flat in 2017

BikePortland has a good survey of the recently released census numbers on bike commuting. They write
American bike commuting rates seem to have entered a post-recession skid in 2017. Here in Portland, meanwhile, they once again stayed about the same, according to Census estimates released this month.
That's a good reminder to check on Salem's numbers.

Last year, the 2016 numbers were flat, and within the margin of error, there's nothing new in 2017. It's still flat.

Unfortunately, I can't navigate my way to the exact same dataset I used in that post, so here's a new set. (There's at least three ways to slice it: Salem City; the Salem Metro area, the three-county area; and the principal city in the metro area. This group is Salem City only. Not being a census jockey, it is a little confusing.)

From 2010

From 2012

From 2013

From 2014

From 2015

From 2017
The decline from 2014 to 2015 is remarkable, but may just be statistical noise. These are small samples, and that means big swings in year-to-year variation that makes discerning real trends difficult. (See, for example, the swings in "taxicab" commutes to work! That's certainly noise, not a trend.)

From the 2007 RTSP
The important conclusion is that we are not moving the needle. The "drive alone" rate in 2017 was 78%. That number is totally moving in the wrong direction from the late 20th century!

The new 2017 number for biking is about 0.7%. Historically you can see the bike commute rate has remained stuck around 1%, sometimes down, sometimes up, but around that center, and if we are serious about improving that, we will need more serious measures. (See last year for more discussion of this. All notes on bike counts are here, including hand counts at intersections earlier this decade and automated counts on the Union and Minto bridges.)

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