How Does Your City Get To Work?

More commute rankings than you can shake a walking stick at.

There’s a heap of new Census data out, showing that Seattle is the Northwest’s clear leader in commute-trip alternatives. I thought it was interesting so I ran the commute-by-mode numbers for every city there’s data for in the Northwest states—and I bring it to you now for your reading pleasure.

So how did the residents of Northwest cities get to their jobs in 2009?

If you’re a two-wheeler, the real action is in Eugene, which puts every place else in the shade, likely owing to a big university and a stellar network of bike paths:

commute_bike

If you want to go by sidewalk, on the other hand, you’ll find more compatriots in Bellingham than anywhere else.

That’s thanks in part to a centrally-located college campus, as well as an urban landscape that never fails to tug at my heartstrings:
commute_walk

When it comes to public transit, on the other hand, the big cities in King County, Washington are way out in front:

commute_transit

If you’d rather work in your PJs, you’ll have more cyber-company if you live in Oregon, home to 6 of the top 7 cities in the region for working at home:

commute_carpool

Carpooling tells another story, however. As a general matter, driving-centric cities tend to do better in this category, and none better than Kennewick in Washington’s Tri-Cities region:

commute_home

*** Please also see this county-by-county ranking of commuting habits ***

 

Cool update: My blog post inspired the Center on Wisconisn Strategy (COWS) to do a little commute trend analysis for Madison. Here are the findings they emailed to me:

  • The number of bike commuters is up 40 percent compared to the 2006-8 period, from 4,867 to 6,826. That raised the share of commuters using bikes from 4.0 percent to 5.1 percent.
  • Walking to work increased from 9.6 percent to 11.6 percent.
  • Transit use went up from 8.3 percent to 9.3 percent.
  • Bike-walk-transit total share went up from 21.2 percent to 26.0 percent.
  • Drive alone went down, from 66.7 percent to 64.8 percent, and carpooling declined from 10.7 percent to 8.0 percent.
  • For comparison with other cities that aspire to multimodalism, in Portland, bike share in 2009 was 6.2 percent and bike-walk-transit was 24.4 percent. In Minneapolis, bike was 4.0 percent and bike-walk-transit was 24.5 percent.
  • Note that you may see slightly different numbers elswhere, because I removed “work at home” from the pool of commuters, to calculate the share of those who actually traveled.
  • Note also that because the single year ACS has a high margin of error, the change in biking from 2006-8 to 2009 is within the MOE, so we need to see whether next year’s survey confirms a trend. And finally note that MOE works both ways—the increase in biking could have been much greater than 40 percent. In any case, it’s the best estimate we have, for the moment, so three cheers for us.

Notes: All data come from 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, table “S0801. Commuting Characteristics by Sex,” here. Keep in mind that the figures here are “residence-based,” which means they refer to the residents of these places (regardless of where they work), not to the workers who work in these places. Also, the figures refer to the “usual” mode of travel during a specific reference week. There are other limitations too, and you can find them all starting on page 86 of this pdf.

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Comments

  1. Rob Harrison AIA says:

    It would be interesting to see these numbers plotted against total funding for each mode.

  2. Dave H-W says:

    If the link Eric included doesn’t work for you (like it didn’t work for me), try this one: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DatasetTableListServlet?_ds_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_&_type=table&_program=ACS&_lang=en&_ts=305054301521Select S0801 and then your geographic area of interest.Note that Benton County, Oregon (home of Corvallis) has a bike commute rate of 8.4%. As in past surveys/censuses, I would surmise that Corvallis has an even higher bike commute rate than Eugene, but the ACS doesn’t break out Corvallis as an MSA or Place or the like.A Corvallis bike commuter

  3. Joseph McKinney says:

    For a look down the road, including a proposal which seeks to reduce transportation related greenhouse gas emissions in our region, read THE END OF THE ROAD: The Transition to Safe, Green Horsepower.http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1450032362/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1_rd_t=201_rd_i=B003BNZ8LO_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER_rd_r=0ZY39BDY52VYVPJGVHVJ

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