Northwest Urban Areas Among Trendsetters For Commute Transportation

Dec 4, 2013

If urbanites’ behavior is any indication, American workers are driving less and biking more. A new transportation study of the biggest U.S. urban areas shows a decline in driving and an increase in biking to work.

The report, Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities, comes from consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group. The report looks at government data for the country’s 100 most populous urban areas, which account for more than half of the U.S. population.

The authors of the report give this background on U.S. driving trends:

They attribute the recent decline in driving in part to the recession, but also a saturation in driving, changing demographics, the rising cost of gas and availability of other modes of transport.

Here are several stats I thought Northwest readers would especially appreciate:

Seattle and Portland’s urban areas were in the top ten for decline in private vehicle commuters:

Portland’s urban region rose to the top for one data point -- largest increase in percent of workers who biked to work:

The U.S. PIRG report notes between 2000 and 2007-2011, Portland’s bike commuters increased from 6,800 to 21,800 residents.

The news is probably not surprising to anyone who’s been to Portland, with rush hour crowds in bike lanes and an official city bike plan. A fact sheet on the city website says 6 percent of the city’s commuters go by bike, the highest of any U.S. city, and much higher than the national average of .5 percent.

Have you changed your commuting habits in the past decade? What precipitated the change?

-- Toni Tabora-Roberts

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