Census: Minneapolis bike commuting remains steady, transit grows

New American Community Survey 1-year estimates are out for large places, which means we can check in on commuting information for our #1 bike city, Minneapolis.

  • Bike commuting seems to be remaining steady (within the margin of error)
  • Transit is up beyond the margin of error
  • Carpooling continues it’s descent
  • Working at home continues to increase slowly
The above chart is courtesy of the City of Minneapolis.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul downtowns grow as city-wide population stays flat


This week, the US Census released 2010 data for Minnesota.  I haven’t had much time to dig into the data, but I did check a few things.  First, I checked the health (in terms of population) of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, our core cities.  We seem to have bucked the trend, being seen in many midwestern core cities, of population decline.  Minneapolis is down 40 people since 2000 and Saint Paul lost 2,083 (-0.7%).

Although our core city population growth seems to be flat or declining, Minneapolis and Saint Paul also seem to be experiencing the “downtown renaissance” being seen in other parts of the country.

Using Census tracts that approximate the areas of each downtown (Minneapolis: south of Plymouth Avenue, inside the freeway belt, south of the river; Saint Paul: inside the freeway belt, north of the river) I compared population from 2000 to 2010.  The results are shown in the table below.  Both downtowns seem to be healthy and growing.

[table id=4 /]

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. Continue reading

ACS Data Dive: Twin Cities Mode Share Changes

New 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey are out, which give everyone the first update of Census tract-level data since the 2000 Census.  If you haven’t explored the New York Times Mapping America tool for some of the broader trends (race, income, housing and education), make sure to check it out.

I pulled out some journey to work data (mode and travel time) for the seven county Twin Cities area since the New York Times didn’t include any transportation information and I was curious.  I’ll be sharing some interesting things I find over the next week.  You can download my raw data set here.

The first thing I looked at was simply the change in mode share for travel to work for the metro as a whole.  Mode share increased for working at home (which could be telecommuting) and bicycling.  Mode share for telecommuting rose almost 3/4 of a percent, while bicycling was up a little less than 1/2 of a percent.  However, if you look at change in total commuters for each mode, the number of cycling commuters increased over 90% since 2000, while the number of telecommuters increased 25%.  Driving alone, carpooling and walking all lost mode share, noticeably, carpooling was down over 1 percentage point.  Transit stayed nearly static.

Next time I’ll dive a little deeper into these changes in bike and telecommuting mode share and map how changes are happening across the metro.

Bicycle Commuting in Minneapolis is way up (but also down a little?)

Showing Steve The Greenway

According to new Census data from the American Community Survey, commuting to work by bicycle in Minneapolis has more than doubled since 2000.  However, the data also show that between 2008 and 2009, Minneapolis saw a 10% decline in bicycle commuting.  This trend does not mirror national trends in bicycle commuting, but does mirror the trend of our arch rival in all things bicycle, Portland (they were down 2% since ’08).  The actual percent of commuters bicycling to work in Minneapolis in 2009 was 3.8%  (Portland was at 5.8% and the nation as a whole was 0.55%).

The League of American Bicyclists has crunched the numbers on the 70 largest US cities, and has concluded that nationwide bicycle commuting rates have held steady since 2008.  However, large gains have been made since 2000 and since 2005.  Non- “Bicycle-Friendly Communities” (as defined by the LAB) actually saw large gains since 2000, with a 71% increase, while Bicycle-Friendly Communities only saw a 48% increase.

So why the big drop in Minneapolis since 2008?  It’s hard to say exactly.  Perhaps lower gas prices have lured some folks back into their cars.  Another possibility is that it’s not a trend at all, but a fluke of the data.  The League of American Bicyclists page does a good job of explaining all the limitations of the ACS, including a couple big ones like the fact that ACS is an estimate, not a true count and the fact that ACS asks respondents only what the principal mode of travel the worker usually used to get from home to work in the previous week.  From the LAB page:

Workers were asked to list only the means of transportation they used on the largest number of days in that week. This means that if the respondent rode a bicycle to work two days but drove three, they would not be counted as a cyclist. Likewise, workers were asked only for the means of transportation used for the longest distance during the trips. If someone biked one mile to a bus stop and rode the bus for two miles they would not be recorded as a bicyclist.

The League of American Bicyclists is also quick to note that bicycling’s share of all trips is three times larger than it’s share of commuting travel.  Meaning you are more likely to choose a bicycle for a trip to the store or soccer practice than you are for a trip to work.

Census 2010 data, which will give us information down to the neighborhood level, will be available sometime next year and should give a more accurate accounting of commuting habits.  The City of Minneapolis is also in the midst of a new bicycle and pedestrian count, which actually counts bike riders at many locations throughout the city.  While this doesn’t break down commute versus non-commute trips, it will give us another indicator of overall bicycle use in the city.

Minneapolis is #2 in bike commuting in 2008

Bike Pittsburgh has done some data mining on the American Community Survey data to develop commuting data separated by mode from the 60 most populus cities.  To display the information, they created a nifty dynamic spreadsheet in Google Docs that allows you to sort by mode. Also check out their table on commuting trends by gender. New research says we need to figure out what women want if we want to increase bicycle commuting.

Number one bicycle commuting city?  Portland, of course.  But number two?  Minneapolis.  In 2008, 4.3 percent of workers who lived in Minneapolis commuted by bicycle.  We beat out (by a good margin) warm and sunny places like San Francisco, Sacramento and Oakland. We also rank in the top ten in walking to work and are 12th in public transit. Good work Minneapolis, and look out Portland, we’re gunnin’ for you.