ACS: Minneapolis Neighborhoods See Big Gains in Bike Mode Share

On-street bike parking at the Birchwood Cafe in Seward

New American Community Survey data is out, which gives us the first look at Census Tract-level data since 2000.  I pulled out some transportation data for the Twin Cities metro, and previously looked at trip-to-work mode share changes for the region.  Cycling and telecommuting showed gains, carpooling and driving alone showed losses.

These small changes don’t seem that interesting, until you start to dive into the data.  Since cycling gained mode share, it’s worth exploring in more detail where these gains are happening.  Are the gains happening uniformly across the metro, or in specific areas?  What places have the highest bicycle mode share?  What do the changes mean for infrastructure and transportation planning?  Attempts at answers are after the break.

From previous ACS surveys of large communities (including Minneapolis and Saint Paul), we know that bicycle commuting in Minneapolis rose by about 2 percentage points between 2000 and 2009 (or over 100% increase in bicycle commuters).  The new ACS 5-year estimates show exactly where these changes are happening.  This may be useful for understanding commuting patterns, making decisions about new infrastructure or targeting areas for outreach that may not have high cycling rates.

Using the 2000 and ’05-’09 estimates data, I put together a map tool to explore the changes.  One caveat before we begin, many of these tracts have high margins of error for bike mode share, so make assumptions with caution.

My initial observations from the maps:

  • You can just about draw a circle with a radius of 2 miles around downtown Minneapolis and see large gains in bike mode share.  Most tracts on this circle saw three to four percentage point increases in bike mode share, with some like Phillips and Seward seeing a full eight point jump.  Given the increased popularity of cycling in Minneapolis, it isn’t a surprise that these neighborhoods are the ones that should see big gains.  They have high population densities and very high access to work locations (short distances and high densities of jobs).
  • New infrastructure probably helped.  Many of the tracts that saw the biggest gains are close to the Midtown Greenway, which opened in phases between 2000 and 2006.  This segregated cycling facility could be providing a major advantage for people who wish to bike to work.  Other projects completed since 2000 include the trails along Hiawatha (with bike bridge) and the Minneapolis Diagonal Trail.
  • The Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, followed closely by Prospect Park and Como, seems to have the highest bike mode share in the metro, at close to 13 percent.  If you’re going to open an upscale bike/coffee shop, do it there.
  • Portions of the Marcy Holmes neighborhood in Minneapolis lost bike commuters.  This is surprising given what I assume are large populations of students in these areas.
  • Saint Paul is not doing as well.  There is no corresponding ring around downtown Saint Paul that shows bike mode share increasing.  Many areas of Saint Paul show flat or decreasing amounts of bike commuting.
  • Some areas of the suburbs stand out.  Roseville, Apple Valley, Edina and even Chanhassen had some tracts with 2 to 5 point increases in mode share.  This is interesting and encouraging, but also may not be real given the large margin of error in these tracts (generally greater than the increase).

6 thoughts on “ACS: Minneapolis Neighborhoods See Big Gains in Bike Mode Share

  1. Great map! It’s great to see this in visual format. I agree with your caveat that we should be careful about the assumptions we make from this data. I don’t trust this data enough to make any conclusions about any tract in particular. I am highly doubtful, for example, that Marcy-Holmes or Lyn-Lake are losing mode share. However, the distribution strongly suggests that downtownish Minneapolis generally is seeing an increase.

  2. “The Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, followed closely by Prospect Park and Como, seems to have the highest bike mode share in the metro, at close to 13 percent. If you’re going to open an upscale bike/coffee shop, do it there.”

    Cedar-Riverside/West Bank is the exporting neighborhood of bicycle related services in this case. So many bike related thingys going on there.

  3. What might have happened to student travel between 2000 and 2009? If a universal transit pass was introduced, it might have boosted transit at the expense of cycling/walking. In Vancouver, when UBC introduced the UPass (obligatory/universal transit pass for the year, as part of tuition), driving went down, but so did cycling/walking, as transit use increased.

    Nice map tool…


  4. The University of Minnesota has a deeply discounted transit pass called “U-Pass”. I’m not sure when it was introduced, but it was before I started attending in 2003.

    I’m curious whether the large student populations in these areas could have any effect on the survey results. I assume they factor this in to the methodology, and I haven’t dug in to the 5-year estimate methodology enough to make any speculations.

    • The U-Pass was introduced when I was in college, within a few years of 1997. Google seems to indicate the year 2000, though I thought it was a little before then.

      It’s currently $97 per semester and is optional. I used it for about two semesters/quarters back when I was in college, but I walked most of the time and could hardly justify it even with the heavy discount. I appreciated that I didn’t have to worry about correct change, so I was really happy when I finally got my Go-To card for Metro Transit years later.

      The University of Minnesota has a pretty good zero-fare campus shuttle system (it carried 3.9 million riders in 2009), so a lot of people might have been predisposed to using transit even before the U-Pass came along.

  5. Pingback: More Evidence Cycling is Increasing in the Twin Cities, Increases follow Investments | Net Density

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