Do you live in a bike commuting hot spot?
The Seattle Times’ Gene Balk (AKA: FYI Guy) published an interactive map today displaying bike-to-work rates according to neighborhood.
Unlike the map we posted last spring showing BikeScore’s bike commuter map (see attached), the Times map attempts to organize the data by neighborhood segment. “North University” comes in at the top on their map.
Interestingly, distance from downtown seems to play a double-sided role in bike commute rates: The neighborhoods furthest away from downtown are also the least-bikey. But neighborhoods in downtown, where everywhere is easily reachable by walking or transit, also had very low bike commute rates.
Clearly, there are many more factors at play than just distance from downtown. Far out neighborhoods like North Aurora and the south end of Rainier Valley also have poor bicycle facilities, and neighborhoods are divided and boxed by very busy streets that discourage bicycling. Biking in West Seattle faces a lot of challenges, such as safe routes connecting neighborhoods to downtown.
Interestingly, people who live along the Duwamish—where a flat and better-than-average bike route (almost) connects to the West Seattle and First Avenue bridges—are among the most likely West Seattleites to bike commute.
Also of interest: The Central District (where I live) is actually more bikey than Capitol Hill.
It’s also telling that, by all other measures, Lower Queen Anne should have very high rates of bike commuting. It’s flat and close to, but not part of, downtown. But it is also completely isolated from safe bike routes, with Denny and the downtown grid on one side and Aurora on the other. In fact, people on the north side of the hill, which is further from downtown but better connected to safe cycling facilities, are more likely to bike to work than those on the south side of the hill.
With the W Thomas Underpass now open, plans to reconnect Thomas and Harrison as part of the deep bore tunnel project (among the only good parts of that project) and plans for a cycle track on Mercer and downtown, Lower Queen Anne is on the verge of a cycling boom.
What do you notice in the map? Any surprises? What can the city do to address some of the barriers to cycling in neighborhoods with lower rates?
One caveat: The figures used in these maps comes from the Census’ American Communities Survey, which has several flaws. For one, people are asked via a phone survey to tell surveyors which mode they used most for commuting in the past week. If you combine biking and transit, but most of your trip’s distance was on transit, then you would not count as a bike commuter. If you only bike to work some days, you would also not count. And, of course, the data in no way considers all the other trips people make on bike (to the grocery store, the park, a friend’s house, out to eat, etc). So it is safe to assume that these numbers are a low-end estimate of cycling rates.