The League of American Bicyclists annual analysis of commuter biking trends is out and it shows mixed results for Wisconsin.
The good news: Wisconsin ranks 14th overall and second only to Minnesota in the Midwest for people commuting to work by bike. The bad news: while commuting by bike has grown here – up 25 percent since 2000 – the Badger State has fallen behind. The number of people commuting by bicycle surged a whopping 46 percent nationally since 2000. So, Wisconsin risks being outpaced by other states.
Our major cities are doing well. Madison ranks first among American cities in the 200,000 to 300,000 population range and eleventh overall with a 5.3 percent bicycle commuter mode share. Meanwhile, Milwaukee ranks ninth among the nation’s 70 largest cities for growth in commuting by bike – up an astounding 203 percent since 2000. Interestingly, the city with the fastest growth in bicycle commuting is Detroit, with a 400 percent increase.
These numbers are probably conservative. They are based on the American Community Survey, an annual survey sent by the Census Bureau to one in 38 American households. The survey question asks how a respondent “usually” got to work in the last week. So, with the survey going out in the spring and spring being what it is for weather in the Midwest, chances are that the percentages would be a lot higher for Wisconsin had the results been taken in, say, July.
The leading city in the nation for bicycle commuting by far is Davis, California where the rate is 23 percent and the average temperature is 74 degrees. Just sayin’.
The only thing really concerning in the report is Wisconsin’s overall growth rate in commuting. While 25 percent is healthy, it’s almost half the growth rate of the nation as a whole. The state legislature’s repeal of our complete streets law and cut in funding for bike infrastructure is not going to help.