Latest Census survey shows decline in Seattle bike commuting, especially by women

Bike commute trends, from the American Community Survey.

The latest Census survey does not look great for bike commuting, at least as the primary mode that people use to get to work on an everyday basis. The data is especially harsh for women biking to work, a count that has seemingly plummeted compared to recent years.

The annual American Community Survey asks residents which mode of transportation they used most to travel to work “last week.” So this is not a measure of total biking, only bike commuting. And there is no accounting for mixed trips, where someone bikes (or uses bike share) to connect to transit or for people who bike some days but not others. And by asking “last week,” a response will be very weather dependent. So, for example, many of the people who started biking to UW Station when it opened in 2016 would be filed under public transit, not biking.

The survey comes out annually, and the data released this week is from 2017. The data can vary quite significantly from year-to-year, so it’s typically not a good idea to take a single year of data too seriously until you see a multi-year trend. For example, we had a very positive survey in 2012 that, after looking at the trends, was probably an overestimate (perhaps 2015 as well).

I am similarly a bit skeptical of the 2017 numbers, which seem almost impossibly low and don’t seem to match up with the Fremont Bridge numbers. Those counts — which include all bike trips, not just commute trips — have been fairly steady:

Fremont Bridge annual bike trip counts are much less variable than the Census survey. And the promising news is that 2018 Fremont Bridge counts are way up compared to 2017.

But the 2017 drop is statistically significant. So while I suspect the extent of the change is a bit exaggerated, it can’t be ignored. This is especially true for women (note that the survey only includes a binary gender response, an issue the Census Bureau needs to address).

In recent years, the apparent growth in Seattle bike commuting came mostly from women. There was such an increase that our 2016 American Community Survey story was focused on how women were leading the city’s biking boom. Well, the latest survey shows a dramatic reversal of that trend. But I don’t believe there are truly half as many women biking to work today as there were in 2015 because transportation modes rarely ever shift that quickly. I suspect the 2015 numbers were a bit inflated and the 2017 numbers are a bit deflated, perhaps exaggerated thanks to the wettest winter in recent history as the Seattle Times’ Gene Balk suggests (the Fremont Bridge counts show a big decline during the winter of 2017, but counts bounced back up in spring and summer). The ten-year trend line is still positive, and Seattle’s position on the list of big U.S. cities with the highest bike commute rates remains the same: 5th.

But any downward movement should be cause for concern and a wake-up call for the city, bike organizations and communities. Whatever happened in 2016 and 2017 didn’t work. Obviously, city leaders need to stop delaying work to build connected and comfortable bike routes. But Seattle also needs new ideas, new voices and new energy to help grow communities that bike and create exciting and inviting ways for more people to plug in and learn the ropes of bike commuting.

Biking in Seattle, especially in the dense employment centers downtown and in South Lake Union, has gotten less comfortable in recent years, not better. Major bike routes have become construction zones that almost never include separated bike lane detours. 7th Ave has been a complete mess, and there is no good alternative route for this vital connector street. Both Dexter Ave and 9th Ave have been stressful construction zones for years. The waterfront has been a stressful mess of freeway construction hell, which significantly impacts anyone headed from Interbay, the Duwamish Valley and West Seattle. And Southeast Seattle, well, those routes have been as bad as ever.

The result of all this is that biking to and through downtown feels less safe and comfortable than it did in 2015 and maybe even earlier. And plans to improve these conditions came to a screeching halt in 2016 and 2017, prompting protest at City Hall and concerns that bike commuting cannot grow if the city does not connect neighborhoods to and through our city’s biggest employment centers.

The 2nd Ave protected bike lane remains an unconnected oasis of reasonably comfortable biking, but you still need to travel through some tough construction site detours and streets lacking adequate bike infrastructure to get there. There are a lot of people who have founds ways to make it all work, but Seattle cannot reasonably expect that closing bike routes would not negatively impact the number of people biking. If the axiom “If you build it, they will come” is true for building good bike routes, then “If you block it, they will stop coming” is probably also true.

Recent additions to the downtown bike network, like the extension of the 2nd Ave bike lane through Belltown and bike lanes on stretches of 7th Ave, are not reflected in the 2017 data, since they opened around the 2018 New Year. And bike share is only somewhat represented, since private companies did not start operating until July and didn’t reach significant numbers of bikes on the streets until later in the year and into 2018.

The 2017 data is overall a continuation of a good trend in Seattle transportation, even if the biking numbers aren’t great. Drive alone trips continued to fall as a percentage of all commute trips, reaching a modern low of 47.2 percent. Transit registered its biggest year yet at 22.9 percent, perhaps accounting for some of the decrease in biking (that could be a good topic for further study).

The remainder of work trips happen by some other mode, including telecommuting, taxis and carpooling. Data from the American Community Survey.

There may also be a larger force impacting bike numbers: The economy. For example, there seemed to be a boom in biking during the recession as people looked for cheaper ways to get around, and that trend may be reversing or stalling nationwide. But Seattle’s economy has been growing much faster than most places in the country, and median income and the cost of living are both rising fast. Nationwide, people in the lowest income bracket are the people most likely to ride a bike. So it could very well be that bike commuters are getting priced out of the city or out of the city’s more bikeable neighborhoods faster than new bike commuters are added (this is also a good topic for further study).

This feels like a turning point for biking in Seattle. Lots of projects are in political limbo due to lackluster excitement for them in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office, there are major changes underway at Cascade Bicycle Club and an anti-bike lane backlash seems to be getting more organized (one group has even formed a political action committee).

At the same time, the city has had some wildly exciting experiments with private bike share that has made bikes much more easily accessible and affordable to more people, and SDOT has both the funding and the plans to build a lot of game-changing bike routes if they can just get their shit together and get some political cover.

If you have been sitting on the sidelines, now might be a good time to get involved. Start a new group or organize a new event. Find some friends and start biking together. Help your interested neighbor bike to work. Organize a bike train that serves your neighborhood. Join your local chapter of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and get involved. And if you do start something, be sure to let me know. Seattle Bike Blog is here to help folks doing cool things spread the word.

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49 Responses to Latest Census survey shows decline in Seattle bike commuting, especially by women

  1. Gary Yngve says:

    I’m skeptical too. I don’t recall ever being surveyed, and multi-modal or flexible work hours/days should not be ignored. My anecdotal observations is more cyclists on the street. Fewer cyclists when stormy or smoky.

  2. Southeasterner says:

    Aren’t the results based on the commute survey from last October which covered October 16-20? I bike almost every day but even for me the crazy rain and wind that week drove me to taking the bus…along with pretty much every cyclist in my office.

    Check out the Fremont bike counter that week and you will see the numbers are awful, almost half the riders from the week before.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Can you point me to where you found that info about October? I tried to figure out when the survey was conducted, but couldn’t.

      • Gary Yngve says:

        Exactly. They need to person-up and show their melon-farming methodology. How did they distribute the survey? How did they resolve multi-modal commutes or flexible work-from-home? Did they sample on a rain day or smoke day? Again, my gut feeling is there are way more cyclists (to the point of my anti-social self desiring a fierce winter storm to empty the roadways).

      • Southeasterner says:

        My bad. I thought the source was the Washington State Commute Trip Reduction Data, but looks like that was a completely different survey…would be interesting to compare with the census data.

        Skimming all the bike counter data I’m not seeing any drops outside of the Fremont Bridge…so highly suspect that overall numbers are declining as much as the census data indicates.

      • Dave W says:

        From the official presentation “Understanding Multi-Year Estimates from the American Community Survey” here: https://www.seattle.gov/opcd/population-and-demographics/american-community-survey

        It looks like they sample monthly over the whole year (quote below).

        > a one-year estimate includes information collected from independent monthly samples over a 12-month period

        However, that page and presentation were last updated in ~2013 so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  3. West Sea Commuter says:

    Wow. I was never surveyed either, and I commute by bike to Interbay from West Seattle every single day. This seems like a very flawed survey.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      The census survey is not the same as the 10-year census where they try to connect with every household. The survey is like any other survey where they only ask a small percentage of people, then extrapolate that into an estimate.

      • West Sea Commuter says:

        I understand that, but it would still seem to result in a very non-representative, and fundamentally flawed, survey.

  4. Peri Hartman says:

    I, too, am skeptical. Intuition is highly flawed. But, with all the bike share rides, the increase in e-bikes, more traffic and traffic jams, these figures need some more scrutiny.

  5. Jimbo says:

    Good, now we have hard data empirical evidence that bikes suck. SDOT and the mayor have their heads on straight, and are going to zero out bike funding and bike lanes as soon as it’s politically expedient. Get off your kid’s toy or have fun inhaling my exhaust.

  6. James says:

    I thought this article was also very informative about issues with how counts are taking place:. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/what-we-can-learn-from-seattles-bike-counter-data/

  7. Jack in Othello says:

    I believe the numbers. In most parts of the city, biking is probably worse than it was 5 or 10 or 15 years ago.

    We can quibble w/ the numbers or methodology of the survey. But the counter at Fremont Bridge is down despite the lovely new W Lake Trail.

    The primary reasons for the decline are two: One, Seattle is more snarled w/ traffic and peds than when I started riding here in 2005, so there’s less room and more close calls, which scares people off their bikes. Women are more scared, maybe because they are smarter.

    Two, growth has made Seattle meaner. I don’t remember getting honked or yelled at by a driver or a ped 10 or 15 years ago. Now it happens to me almost every month.

    Seattle is growing up, a fact w/ pros and cons. But Seattle is almost certainly a worse place to ride a bike, as a result of all that growth.

    • Low says:

      I would definitely say that I see more bikes out now than before, so it is hard for me to accept the survey data.

      However, I agree with many of your points. The anti-bike rhetoric is overwhelming and has sometimes deterred me from riding if I am feeling even slightly low and don’t want to deal with crappy drivers yelling, honking or punishing me with close passes.

    • Law Abider says:

      We can quibble w/ the numbers or methodology of the survey. But the counter at Fremont Bridge is down despite the lovely new W Lake Trail.

      Wait what? A quick glance at the Fremont counter not only shows counts up, but also some record setting months this year! The exception is August, which got pretty bad with the smoke, but even then was only 8,000 off the highest August count, in 2017, which hit about 120,000.

      • Jack says:

        I was looking at the blue graph published in the story above, year over year data from Fremont Bridge.

        Looking at the data in the article, it’s hard to make the case that biking has increased on Fremont Bridge, despite big investments in W Lake. Sadly, the Fremont data seems to reinforce w the citywide data.

        Cherry picking a single month or ones observations your local bike lane aren’t particularly valid data sources.

      • Law Abider says:

        I was looking at the blue graph published in the story above, year over year data from Fremont Bridge.

        Looking at the data in the article, it’s hard to make the case that biking has increased on Fremont Bridge, despite big investments in W Lake. Sadly, the Fremont data seems to reinforce w the citywide data.

        Cherry picking a single month or ones observations your local bike lane aren’t particularly valid data sources.

        I don’t think I could have caveated my anecdotal observation any more. It’s based on a very narrow commute window on a very specific, safe, flat bike route, which doesn’t reflect the reality of the rest of Seattle’s bike infrastructure. I noted that my observations there appear to buck the trend of declining bike commuting and female bikers. Nothing more.

        Also, I’m not cherry picking months. You can look at a live graph of the Fremont Bridge bike counter and see that at least on the Fremont Bridge, months are up over 2017 and some months are even setting records. That’s not cherry picking.

        http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/bike-program/bike-counters/fremont-bike-counters

        You can even download the data and mess with it yourself. Even with the slight downturn in August, the Fremont Bridge was on track to have its best year ever as of the end of August. Although September hasn’t been as great, again partially due to the lingering smoke followed by a wet middle of the month.

        But we’ll see!

  8. Esteban Bastone says:

    It seems that riding in town is getting more hazardous with the hassled, pissed off cell-distracted drivers in traffic – that’s can’t be helping.

  9. Max G says:

    Anecdotally, this fits with what I have noticed riding over the West Seattle bridge every day. Far fewer women are riding in the last couple of years. Also, many of the other commuters have become more manic, less careful, and frankly, more dangerously impatient. I do not think these are independent variables. There is a noticeable shift in the riding culture and it is not entirely due to cars.

    • Max G says:

      Just to be clear, in my original comment, above, I meant to say “…many of the other *bicycle* commuters have become more manic, less careful, and frankly, more dangerously impatient…” Of course, this is also true of motor vehicle operators in this city, but I think as people who ride bikes and who hope to encourage others to do so, we need to take some responsibility for improving the riding culture in this city, by which I mean riding more respectfully and carefully around other riders.

      • West Sea Commuter says:

        I’ve seen a lot of this as well. Very disheartening. I’ve called people out on it in the past, but receive pretty aggressive responses. I tend to adjust my work hours so that I can ride early in the morning in order to avoid the traffic as much as possible.

  10. Apu says:

    Nice analysis Tom. One thing I wonder about: we know that commute distances have increased in recent years owing to the housing affordability crisis. I can easily see how this could depress the percentage of commuters who use a bike.

    On the other side of this argument, you would expect the young new professionals who have recently arrived to the city to ride bikes to work and apparently this is not happening a lot (per the survey numbers).

    • Gary Yngve says:

      One thing that has happened is some larger companies now have private shuttles, which at least gets cars off the road. The other thing that has happened is Uber/Lyft, which unless they are carpooling, isn’t helping reduce the number of cars on the road… (and Uber/Lyft drivers illegally stop in the bike lanes to wait for passengers, argh). Curious how many riders of Uber/Lyft would have instead driven a car vs instead biked/bused.
      Also, with RapidRide routes getting better, it doesn’t bother me if some cyclists transitioned to bus ridership. Goal should be reducing number of car trips.

  11. mjd says:

    I am one of the women who used to bike commute, but stopped due to constant construction zones and increase in cars.

  12. Roberto says:

    Anecdotally, I do see a ton more cyclists on the road…way more than when I started paying attention in 2011 (when I started biking). But after doing a lot of heavy-duty bike commuting between Seattle and Redmond, I can observe a lot of things that would turn off cyclists:
    1. I’ve dubbed the stretch of the Burke between Stone Way and the UW Stadium as “Nitwit Alley”…it’s a horror show during rush hour as LAWBEs (Lance Armstrong Wannabees) practice their time trials at high speed and don’t call out “On your left!”, clueless parents teaching their 4-year olds how to bike in rush hour (who does that?!), pedestrians who think they’re in the UK (walking on the left), and the confusing pedestrian/bike lanes on a blind curve near Gasworks. I wouldn’t blame anyone who gave up on cycling dealing with that on a daily basis.
    2. Still no connection to the CD.
    3. Really no connection to Capitol Hill unless you want to square dance with cars on Pike, Lakeside, and Harvard.
    4. Going downhill on the Interurban into Fremont is a terrifying experience. Should be a major bike corridor, but the bike lanes disappear when you need it most, near 34th. Not to mention the confusing signage.
    5. I tip my hat to all the cyclists and motorists who somehow make Lake Washington Blvd work, despite zero bike infrastructure. But for the beginning cyclist commuter, most would say “forget it!” Good signage there, I would say. Pity there are no bike lanes.
    6. 15th ave to and from the Ballard Bridge should also be a major bike corridor. I tip my hat to the daredevils who go that route.

    Anyway, this is a litany you’ve all seen before. I didn’t even get into Rainier, Denny, and other cyclist disasters. My hypothesis is that a lot of people read that cycle commuting was “in” and “green”, so they gave it a shot. Our disjointed cycle roads and our insufferably rude and dangerous cyclists turned them off, particularly women.

  13. Law Abider says:

    My anecdotal study, which consists of me commuting daily Ballard to SLU via BGT and Westlake, seems to show an increase of cyclists, especially women. The Fremont bridge counter corroborates at least the increase in cyclists. Of course, that’s my one pigeon-holed, narrow view along one of the flattest, safest routes in the City.

    I just don’t trust this survey and I unfortunately think that this will be used by Dori Monson and other car-thumpers to dissuade Seattle from building out our bike network.

  14. Ragged Robin says:

    Numbers look about right to me. I remember when I had to basically freewheel the entire length of the i90 bridge on my way back from work from the Eastside because there were so many cyclists on it in the summer. That was around 2014-2015. These days seem to have only a handful at a time.

    • Gary Yngve says:

      Your observations about I-90 are interesting.
      I-90 is less pleasant now with the breakdown lane gone, and now the 520 Bridge is a legit alternative.
      I wonder how many people have no changed to a same-side-of-lake job, commute on flexible hours, or work from home occasionally.

  15. Alex says:

    Transit service has improved substantially in the past two years. CHS and UW station opened in 2016 and Metro has added a lot of additional bus service. There is a +1.9 point bump in 2017 transit share vs. 2016 while cycling and walking are both -0.7 points.

    I think it is easier to mode-shift from walking / cycling to transit than it is to stop driving. First, the walk/bike group is probably more likely to live and works near transit service already (or else they couldn’t walk/bike). Second, a lot of the drivers probably have long / unusual commutes that can’t be easily converted to another mode.

    • John says:

      Yes, I bet it’s really just the switch to light rail/bus. If I had a train station near me, I would definitely take it part of the time. They will need more/better bike trails (or packed trains) to get more people on bikes.

  16. Rainier Rider says:

    Perhaps nationwide people in the lowest income bracket are the most prolific bikers, but the data in Seattle is clearly opposite that showing 34% making less than $35,000. Seems the notion that biking in Seattle is a rich white guy thing might not be too far off the mark. Perhaps now they’ll reconsider spending $30 million for 1 mile of trail in Ballard and invest that in neighborhoods that need sidewalks, curb cuts, and bike lanes instead of rich white Ballard.

  17. Meredith says:

    I know I’ve adjusted my commute from UW to the ferry terminal, while I ride in the morning, SLU has become such a nightmare that I always take the train in the evening. I was just missing the ferry too often fighting my way through snarled traffic and clueless pedestrians.

    The construction zones at least on one side of Dexter did actually try to include a bike lane, but pedestrians ignore the signage and walk in that lane forcing cyclists suddenly out into traffic, as it’s too narrow to accommodate both.

  18. Al Dimond says:

    It really would depend exactly which week (in each year) was surveyed. Much of the year had exceptionally bad weather. Bike counters in early 2017 were recording counts about 15% below usual; if the survey was taken between January and April then it’s reporting exactly the same thing as the bike counters. Those have generally recovered with better weather this year.

    • Tristan says:

      I’m interested in their methods also (when was the survey conducted, how do they contact people… is it my address? by phone? landline? cell phone?)
      I can easily imagine newer transplants to the city would not have landlines and stick with their (out of area code) cell phones.

      Anyone know where to find this information?

      • Al Dimond says:

        ACS is a mail survey. According to Wikipedia ACS surveys are conducted continuously and aggregated yearly. Its year-to-year fluctuations in bike-commute rate are larger than the year-to-year fluctuations at the Fremont or West Seattle Bridges. It wouldn’t surprise me if the number of people riding over these counters is in fact more stable in the face of weather than the number of people riding overall. That’s because people commuting across these counters (especially Fremont) will tend to have regular conditions favoring bike commuting more than average (i.e. these locations have better-than-average biking conditions and, being fairly close to downtown, worse-than-average driving/parking conditions, while transit is a mixed bag of high frequency, low speed, and sketchy reliability).

  19. Don_Brubeck says:

    Annual data from the Spokane St Bridge bike counter as well as the Fremont Bridge counter does not show such a precipitous drop in actual absolute numbers of riders, looking at 7-day or weekday data. The bridge counters provide better data on absolute numbers of bike commuters than the annual census sample survey. What the counters do not show is the percentage of c0mmuters using bikes as primary comute mode, and that may be lower if a high percentage of our recent population increase is using transit or walking to get to work. It is also entirely possible that this year’s annual census survey sample is not very representative for this question. As Tom says, it takes a few years of data to smooth out the noise in the data.

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  21. Paul B says:

    Impact on smokey summers at the night of summer? I stayed off the bike for more than week. Also, correlates to increase in ride share. The car free have option.

  22. Pingback: After Millions of Dollars Spent and Hundreds of New Lane Miles Built, Bike Ridership Is Down Across America – Michigan Standard

  23. Clint says:

    I agree that the construction issues downtown probably play a large part in the decline, but there are two other factors I haven’t seen mendtioned:

    1) We’ve had record increases in property crime over the last 2 years. I have one female friend who stopped commuting by bike when her wheel was stolen off a bike locked up on 5th Ave in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny Sunday. She didn’t have anywhere safe to part her bike near her work and couldn’t be bothered carrying multiple locks around when she could just take the bus instead.
    2) The homeless encampments around the city often intersect with or are adjacent to bike facilities. I (an above-average sized man) feel unsafe biking on some of the trails in the city, particulrly after dark. I imagine I’d be put off it entirely if I were a woman.

    Point is, this is not just about making the streets feel safe for people riding in traffic. People have to be able to park a bike safely and they have to feel safe on the dedicated trails we already have.

    • Gary Yngve says:

      “2) The homeless encampments around the city often intersect with or are adjacent to bike facilities.”
      “I feel unsafe biking on some of the trails ”

      Yes. Riding the Burke-Gilman between Phinney and 6th Ave W is awful right now. And a jogger was just sexually assaulted this morning near the I-5 P&R at Ravenna (police believe that assailant hangs around the camp there, hopefully an arrest and ultimate conviction is coming)

      We can show empathy for the homeless while still preventing those in unsanctioned camps from trashing our parks/trails/sidewalks and preventing us from traveling or recreating safely.

    • Jeik says:

      I am a woman and never feel unsafe riding by homeless people (unless they are literally on the trail, i.e. a physcial barrier). I’m sure some folks do, but I’m fine. I’m much more worried about general traffic, aggressive/clueless drivers, and even aggressive bikers, which was the cause of my most recent bike accident. I experience more sexual harrasment walking one block to my bus stop downtown then I ever do biking.

  24. RossB says:

    >> Transit registered its biggest year yet at 22.9 percent, perhaps accounting for some of the decrease in biking (that could be a good topic for further study).

    It could account for all of it. Seriously, the increase in transit ridership is greater than the decrease in biking. Maybe all of the people who used to bike to work are now taking the bus (or the train, or some combination). Regardless, if there are people who switched from biking to driving, then there are more who have switched from driving to transit.

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Transit has really gotten a lot better in the last few years. The buses are just a lot more frequent, while the train helps eliminate some of the worst congestion.

    Biking has gotten better — but it still has a lot of holes. Downtown is the biggest problem, and we are still working on building a safe path around Lake Union. Some of the improvements probably weren’t reflected in the survey, either.

    Personally, I think you can read too much into a survey that is focused on commuting. Lots of people commute to downtown, and transit is often excellent to downtown. There seems to be this silly attitude that biking is for getting to work or just to have fun. But lots of people ride a bike to get to the store, drop their kids off at daycare or visit friends. That is often where biking really saves a huge amount of time, but it wouldn’t show up in this survey. You would need to dig into the details more (e. g. figure out how many of your trips are via bike) to see if there is any trend there. It is also where the city could really improve things. Seattle is full of hills, and most of the bikes in this town don’t have electric motors. For a lot of people, it is just too much work to pedal to work. But if they have safe options for getting around within their neighborhood, then it changes the dynamic. A bike becomes a big part of their daily life, even if they take the bus to work.

    • JB says:

      Good points, RossB. This is an annoying statistic, but I would say five years is a more meaningful trend line given all the construction and the pace of change in technology and transportation options in Seattle right now. I just enjoy seeing all the obviously non-hard core cyclists doodling around enjoying themselves on Lime bikes and it’s pretty obvious that there are a whole lot of people riding bikes in Seattle these days who were not riding a year or two ago. I can’t imagine anyone commuting five miles to work on a Lime bike, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important part of the equation these days, even if these numbers wouldn’t pick it up. Unfortunately bike infrastructure is such a precarious political proposition that our uncourageous mayor and status-quo oriented transportation agencies are all too eager to seize on any data that will justify continuing to give us the same old schtick that no one rides bikes in Seattle. I hate to say it, but blowhards like Dori Monson know how to make a compelling and emotionally resonant case in a way that us quiet policy wonks do not.

      • asdf2 says:

        The electric lime bikes are perfectly fine for 5 mile commutes. The problem is cost. Riding them more than a mile or two is comfortable enough, but expensive, and a 5 mile commute on them each way may not be any cheaper than driving to work and paying for parking.

        This is the problem with the pricing model. In order to avoid leaving money on the table from tourists, and people in a pinch to get somewhere that’s less costly than Uber, they have effectively priced out their service from being a relevant part of one’s daily commute.

      • Gary Yngve says:

        “a 5 mile commute on them each way may not be any cheaper than driving to work and paying for parking.”

        A 5-mile commute to downtown should be about $4 by e-assist bicycle. Parking downtown is probably $20/day if not more? And that’s not counting cost of gasoline or car maintenance.

  25. Bryan Willman says:

    I just was directed to the link below. I suspect it’s based on the same or similar survey data, with the same problems, and echos some ideas above, but also adds a couple of new ones.
    (Electric cars filling a “virtue signaling” role that biking may have filled before being one example – many people working from home, or working flex time, both of which would reduce the odds of cycling to the office.)

    I also wonder if there’s a concentration effect – some part of the young techie up scale demographic who might have commuted by bicycle to say MSFT are now working at amazon, and also living in the priced-out-for-everybody-else close in apartments. And they walk (I’ve met one who does.) So a pool of people who might have been cyclists have become walkers instead – but only a part of the population.

    (And I agree that bike route interconnects are often a disaster – a point oft repeated above.)

    http://www.davemabe.com/2018/09/30/commuting-by-bicycle-is-down

    Things he seems to suggest that don’t seem to have been discussed above:
    a. gas prices are low, but the economy as a whole is up
    b. electric cars may be a “substitute virtue signal” and are of course much easier
    c. telecommuting, flex time, working from home. (If you only need to run into the office for 30 minutes, you will likely drive…)

    And here’s one more from me. What fraction of the population is working/commuting consistent daylight hours? People who often end up working until very late (dark, cold) are much less likely to ride (because of the dark, cold) and also to take a bus (because of the limitations of the bus schedule.)

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