Thursday, July 10, 2008

We have our work cut out for us

While Googling about for links and such, I bumped into a blog called Bike Commuter Tips Blog, which, well, sounds like something this blog and its readers should link to. Done.

Anyway, over there appears this post from last year that lists and discusses the U.S. Census's list of the ten best and worst cities for bike commuting, as measured by the percentage of folks who do so. Have a look:

The top ten U.S. cities for percentage of bicycling commuters:

City / Percentage
Portland / 3.5
Minneapolis / 2.4
Seattle / 2.3
Tucson / 2.2
San Francisco / 1.8
Sacramento / 1.8
Washington DC / 1.7
Oakland / 1.5
Honolulu / 1.4
Denver / 1.4

The bottom 10 U.S. cities for bike commuting:

City / Percentage
Dallas / 0.2
Nashville / 0.2
Oklahoma City / 0.2
Charlotte / 0.2
San Antonio / 0.1
Omaha / 0.1
Wichita / 0.1
Indianapolis / 0.1
Memphis / 0.1
Kansas City (MO) / 0.0

Be sure to note Paul's comments on undercounting of cyclists and the trips they make via bicycle.

The comments section contains a fair amount of discussion on why, in general, cities in the Midwest and South dominate the Bottom Ten list. But the larger point remains: Portland is at the top of the list in large measure because it consciously creates space on its streets to safely accommodate both cyclists and drivers. Wichita does not: here, so far, cycling is seen, at the level of city planning, as predominantly a recreational activity. To be fair, the city could make the argument that there just aren't enough riders to justify modifying infrastructure, but that begs the question of whether the lack of such accommodations has contributed to keeping people off the streets who would otherwise consider cycling to work and elsewhere on a regular basis. Another factor to consider--and I'm just speculating here, is that because Wichitans have one of the nation's shortest average commute times--an average of 16.5 minutes--perhaps the cost of gas (which is also around .30/gallon cheaper than the national average right now) doesn't (yet) hurt people enough to consider riding bikes to work.

Anyway. Some things to contemplate.

No comments: